When in Rome, do as the Romans do … and when in Milwaukee, ask for a bubbler by name.

Speaking the native tongue when visiting any new land helps – even when that “new land” is on U.S. soil. But without insider information, who would know that in Milwaukee, a drinking fountain is called a “bubbler?” Or that if you order a “coffee regular” in Philadelphia, it will come with both cream and sugar?

Before heading on a summer road trip, do your homework ahead of time with a quick visit to CityDictionary.com – a web site devoted to local “-isms” from around the country. The site features more than local dictionaries, including fun polls and information about lesser-known local attractions, events, and idiosyncrasies.

The website was launched in May 2008, according to Thomas Carmona, one of the site’s co-founders (an amateur linguist who also writes a blog on Costa Rican Spanish) who attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and decided to stick around.

Madison’s unique culture was the original impetus for the site.

Carmona, along with his brother John, sister-in-law Colleen, and web developer Sam Kimmel, originally set out to create a Madison dictionary that would capture the eccentricities of the city’s language and culture, he explains. But the team decided to venture beyond Badger territory, and expanded their coverage to include cities of all sizes from around the country.

“Our goal is to capture the local subtleties of American cities that other resources might be missing,” Carmona says. The site relies on input from “citizens,” or registered users who contribute words with local flavor or share information about lesser-known local attractions.

Thanks to a loyal MuniNet visitor for letting us know about this site. If you come across an interesting or unique website with a municipal slant, please let us know!