If you're new to town in northern Ontario, getting directions to the nearest Tim Horton's for a cup of coffee is usually a top priority.

University of Toronto linguistics professor Sali Tagliamonte had a few double doubles this past spring as she took a group of her students with her on a trip up Highway 11.

It was part of a study called the Tim Horton's Project.

Tagliamonte says she wanted to show people how interesting and varied Ontario dialects are.

"Everybody knows how to get to Tim Horton's," she said.

"But the words you use to give directions can vary from place to place."

In each town along the highway, Tagliamonte tried to find a place that was furthest away from Tim Horton's.

Then she dropped four students off in four different places.

Sali Tagliamonte

Lingustics professor Sali Tagliamonte travelled around northern Ontario studying how people describe the best way to get to Tim Hortons. Tagliamonte, who hails from Toronto, was curious about the dialect of northern Ontario. (individual.utoronto.ca)

'Make a right'

But not everyone wanted to be recorded as part of their study.

"Occasionally there was some crankiness going on," Tagliamonte recalled.

"My students had to be very brave."

How did the dialect vary?

One may say "you make a right" in Toronto, but in northern Ontario the same direction came out as "take a right."

Men in the north were more likely to use "you hang a right," Tagliamonte said.

"How we give directions tells us a lot about the place we live in," she continued.

There are plenty of cardinal directions in Toronto (people use terms like north, south, east and west) thanks to the city's grid pattern.

But in Kapuskasing, it's much different, as the community is not laid out in such an orderly fashion.

To hear more about Tagliamonte's study, listen to her interview on CBC Sudbury's Up North radio show.