Features: How to Speak Philadelphian: Wooder, Wooder Everywhere

You say “potato.” we say “wooder.” How stupid is that?

It’s the most infamous phonetic glitch in the Philadelphia lexicon: “Wooder.” And we wondered, “Why? Sweet Jesus, why?” So we scoured the city’s neighborhoods for the source, bottles of Dasani in hand, asking the indigenous folk to answer, please: “What is this?” We were surprised because, in fact, there is wooder, wooder everywhere. And we were shocked — not ­because so many people said “wooder,” but because so many said “water.” Stranger still, we unearthed a little-known hybrid pronunciation: “Whudder.” Rhymes with “shudder,” which is exactly what it made us do. Our poll results:

CENTER CITY: In Rittenhouse Square
43% “Water”
32% “Wooder”
15% “Whudder”
9% “Vodka”
1% “If it’s not vodka, I’m not interested”

SOUTH PHILLY: Between Pat’s and Geno’s
67% “Wooder”
31% “Water”
1% “Whudder”
1% “I’m Canadian”

THE NORTHEAST: At Chickie’s & Pete’s
77% “Wooder”  
12% “Water”
9% “Whudder”
1% “You tell me”
1% “It’s a bottle. And it looks like you just ripped the label off”

53% “Water”
29% “Wooder”
17% “Whudder”
1% “Get out”

SOUTH JERSEY: At the Cherry Hill Mall
80% “Wooder”
11% “Water”
8% “Whudder”
1% “I have absolutely no idea”

MAIN LINE: In the Wooden Iron, Wayne
71% “Water”
26% “Wooder”
1%  “Whudder”
1% “I work very hard not to have a Jersey accent”
1% “Are you gonna ask me ‘Coke’ and ‘hoagie’ next?”