Welcome to the United Slang of America. The map was created with a layered, multistep approach. First, the author called up some linguists who helped develop an initial list of unique words that are in one way or another associated with a particular state. Next, he researched online message board discussions about zany terms that have gained popularity in different states, and then also surveyed friends and colleagues on the words they most associate with their home states, as well as polling Slate readers on Facebook. Ultimately, each state had five to 10 viable options, narrowed down by a mostly scientific yet primarily argumentative process.
The interactive elements were composed by Chris Kirk, and what can be seen started as this digital drawing I made below, later converted into vector art for publication.
Article by Matthew J.X. Malady, published by Slate Magazine, Sept. 2 2015