Interesting "test" designed to tell you where you reside (not that you didn't know)


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Interesting "test" designed to tell you where you reside (not that you didn't know)

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Dez 26, 2013, 11:52 am

I don't know that this is "right on" topic, but it's too interesting to hold on to and not share. The New York Times has a linguistic/accent test designed to zero in on you and where you were raised or live.

My wife and I got plunked in Chicago, which is accurate, although my wife was pegged for Chicago & Toledo, Ohio(???). The test is designed for the United States. I did notice that, when my wife went through the test, her questions varied from mine after the first few questions.

Dez 26, 2013, 12:03 pm

I've taken the full version before and it was very accurate, like my deep red spot was incredibly distinctly localized, far more than nearly everyone else's maps I've seen, haha.

Dez 26, 2013, 12:37 pm

I was surprised that it put me in New York City (or Yonkers or Jersey City) because most of the answers for individual questions gave me the blue "least similar." I think it was because I call shoes you wear at the gym "sneakers."

Dez 26, 2013, 12:53 pm

It thinks I'm from Alabama, which is not the case. I passed through once in 1968.

Dez 26, 2013, 12:59 pm

Well, it ballparked me close enough: Yonkers, Jersey City and Newark/Paterson are all a stone's throw from NYC. It didn't quite get me in NYC though.

Editado: Dez 27, 2013, 11:09 am

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Dez 26, 2013, 1:13 pm

Placed in Boston.

Editado: Dez 26, 2013, 1:22 pm

One of the problems I faced was whether to answer based on the phrases I used growing up, or the ones that I have adopted more recently. The first time I took the test, I went with the former, and it zeroed me in nicely to Colorado, where I grew up (with a big red spot on California, which likely reflects the influx of Californians to Colorado in the '80s and '90s, as I've never been to California myself).

Going with the latter, however, and you begin to see the influences of the various places I have lived since, including Boston, the midwest, and now southeastern Kentucky -- the map gets much more complex.

(I grew up with "you guys" for the 2nd person plural, but later switched to "y'all" under the influence of my grandmother and the necessity of teaching a foreign language {in this case, Latin} in which one needs different 2nd person pronouns for singular and plural.)

Editado: Dez 26, 2013, 2:38 pm

I tried it and found it interesting although as I'm from UK didn't expect too much. I'd like to see something similar for UK. I do have An Atlas of English Dialects which maps the distribution of words but not really the accent in which they are spoken. So not really equivalent.
PS. For what it's worth I ended up around New York.

Dez 26, 2013, 3:01 pm

It nailed it for me, Santa Ana/Irvine area. The most distinctive word being freeway.

The question that had me scratching my head though was about the pronunciation of crayon. Two of the choices were "cray-ahn" and "rhymes with dawn". Aren't those the same?

Dez 26, 2013, 3:02 pm

>10 jjwilson61:: I believe "ahn" is supposed to rhyme with the name, "Ann".

Editado: Dez 26, 2013, 3:20 pm

#10, 11 "ahn" is like "on" and "dawn" is like "fawn" or "lawn" -- at least the way I speak!

I must have breezed right through the "freeway" question (although we certainly don't call them that) because I don't remember it.

ETA I just took the test again because I was scratching my head because I couldn't remember the "freeway" question and I got several different questions this time, including the "freeway" question but not the "sneakers" question. So it seems to vary the questions it asks people.

#13 I just discovered that, Monkey! I still came out New York, Yonkers, and Newark.

Dez 26, 2013, 3:15 pm

>12 rebeccanyc: It gives different questions depending what you choose, to try to narrow it down. There's a full long version out there a well, but I don't recall the address of it.

Dez 26, 2013, 3:23 pm

>12 rebeccanyc:: ""ahn" is like "on" and "dawn" is like "fawn" or "lawn" -- at least the way I speak!"

While to me, "on", "dawn," "fawn," and "lawn" all rhyme!

Dez 26, 2013, 3:35 pm

>14 nathanielcampbell: "On" definitely does not rhyme with "awn" in my world!

Dez 26, 2013, 4:48 pm

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Dez 26, 2013, 4:57 pm

It had me pegged for Santa Rosa, Santa Clarita or Minneapolis/Saint Paul and the red colour distribution was spread over half of the US. It was fun to play with because I'm from Aus.

Dez 26, 2013, 5:01 pm

Here are some pertinent links if you're interested:

Harvard Dialog Survey, including links to maps, questions, etc. Apparently the site no longer maintained.

Bert Vaux's non-Cambridge site.

Bert Vaux's University of Cambridge site.

#9 above. Somewhere, and where has leaked out of my brain, there was information on possibly expanding the Harvard Dialog Survey technique elsewhere in the English speaking world.

Dez 26, 2013, 5:46 pm

It put me in Philadelphia, Newark-Paterson, and Yonkers(!?). I live in a suburb of Philadelphia.

Editado: Dez 27, 2013, 1:51 am

Decided to try this out of curiosity depsite not being American or native speaker of English...and it put me in New York - Yonkers - Jersey City (with additional red areas all across New England, around Miami and in California and Hawaii).

Possibly from being influenced mostly by popular culture and not actual people :)

Dez 27, 2013, 7:06 am

it places me in both Yonkers, NY and Modesto. Probably because I'm from North Yorkshire and have lived in Switzerland for 40+ years.

Dez 27, 2013, 7:30 am

You can take a new survey of "World Englishes" here, but you have to register and it doesn't tell you your results.

Dez 27, 2013, 9:58 am

#18 bookblotter Somewhere, and where has leaked out of my brain, there was information on possibly expanding the Harvard Dialog Survey technique elsewhere in the English speaking world.
That would be a great resource to have even if there were separate tests for India, UK, Australia etc. And if all combined with N America into one, even better though that is probably not easy to achieve or would need too many questions.

Dez 27, 2013, 10:17 am

English is not my first language and my "accent" is British English. I was all over the place at first but I ended up in South Florida and the very north of the east coast - hmmmm

Dez 27, 2013, 6:09 pm

Boston/Worcester/Providence. Close enough.

I guess asking how the 2nd city is pronounced would have been too much of a give-away. lol

Dez 30, 2013, 6:31 am

Chattanooga, Little Rock, Modesto. Modesto is OK, I have lived most of my life within 60 or 70 miles of it in various directions. There seem to be a number of people being placed there, however. It doesn't seem like a big enough town to set an accent standard. I have never been near Little Rock or Chattanooga but am relieved to know that if I should relocate to either in my old age I have a chance of being taken for a native, with my Modesto accent. :-)

Dez 30, 2013, 3:05 pm

It wants to stick me in California, particularly Bakersfield, which I guess is not that far away. The second time I took it, answering y'all instead of you guys, it offered me Lubbock, Texas, as well. (I suppose "you guys" would be more likely to come out of my mouth in an unaffected way, but y'all is certainly part of my active vocabulary.) 18-wheeler, semi, tractor trailer, or even big rig was also one I wavered on, as they all seem in free variation for me.

Also, I'm confused; by "gym shoes" = "sneakers" / "tennis shoes" / etc., do they mean the universal pieces of shoewear that I would basically call shoes versus boots or fancy shoes? I think they do, in retrospect, but it certainly confused me to limit them to gym or athletics.

(I kept wanting to answer tonic, but even in Massachusetts that would have been an affected word for me to use; out West, I'll stick to my native "soda" to be understood.)

Editado: Dez 30, 2013, 3:15 pm

>27 prosfilaes:: "(I suppose "you guys" would be more likely to come out of my mouth in an unaffected way, but y'all is certainly part of my active vocabulary.)"

Ditto for me. (Indeed, I agree with all the points you make in this post, except for "tonic" -- I grew up with "pop" but switched at some point in young adulthood to "soda".)

Editado: Dez 30, 2013, 3:29 pm

27> I had trouble with the truck question too. I wasn't sure exactly what type of truck they were referring to. I guessed they were talking about the kind that has a separate cab and trailer but it wasn't at all clear from their description.

ETA: And where in the US do they call it a lorrie?

Dez 30, 2013, 7:18 pm

>27 prosfilaes: Regular shoes with laces that you'd wear for a decent stretch of time on your feet, yeah. They're called by all those names, depending on location. I grew up, in the Chicagoland area, with them being "gym shoes," but I've heard them referred to as "sneakers" and "tennis shoes" by other people over the years.

Jan 2, 2014, 10:21 pm

I was given three choices: Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, MN, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All three are incorrect, though Mpls is the closest city to where I was born and raised. Nevertheless, I've lived in Metro-Phoenix, AZ for the past 50 years.

Abr 12, 2014, 5:00 pm

> anthonywillard, I instantly thought of 'Grapes of Wrath'. I doubt Little Rock & Chattanooga were greatly affected by the dust storms, but might there have been a migration of people from that region--what would you call it, the Central South?--to your part of California during the depression?

Editado: Abr 12, 2014, 5:44 pm

>32 bluepiano: That's a good point. Some of the Dust Bowl emigrants were from Arkansas. They were known as "Arkies" but in California today I never hear that term. "Okies" is used to refer to all Dust Bowl immigrants. One still hears the deep Okie accent in the Central Valley, mostly from old people. But the immigrants had many descendants, quite a few of whom live in or near Modesto.

Abr 15, 2014, 5:38 am

Totally off for me - it put about 1,000 miles north east of Colorado where I have spent my entire life.

I wonder what effect a broad reading history and/or association with people from other places has on the results. For example, although I do not say "lorry" for a truck, I do say I was "in hospital" rather than "in the hospital" due to the influence of both British friends and books.

Abr 15, 2014, 1:25 pm

Bert Vaux, the professor who heads the effort at identifying language use by geographic location, is apparently now at Cambridge in the UK. He is running a (I think it's relatively new) new survey called 'The Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes.'*

Although the term "World Englishes" would lead you to believe that he is aiming the survey at countries where English is generally spoken, after you take the survey you can look at maps that just cover the US and southern Canada for the most part. There are a very few colored dots in Mexico, Cuba and what appear to be in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico near Cuba (swimming linguists???). Perhaps there is not a sufficient data base to cover, say, New Zealand as yet.

If you would like to help out, you might consider taking the survey; see the link above.

* I don't believe that I've ever seen or heard "English" made into a plural; spell check doesn't like it either. However, it seems practical and maybe appropriate if one is trying to ID language usage in parts of the USA, UK, Australia, etc. It might lead to some interesting words if one was surveying Siouxes or Romanshes. :)

Abr 15, 2014, 2:31 pm

>35 bookblotter:: Just done the survey but the dynamic maps are not working at present so need to come back to see where I live.

Abr 15, 2014, 4:12 pm

>35 bookblotter: I took the test. Looking at the distribution maps for the USA for each question, I think they need a lot more responses for meaningful analysis. I will try to remember to check back in 6 months. Right now they seem to be picking up educational levels more than location. I hope they are including some more rigorous sampling techniques.

Abr 16, 2014, 3:29 am

I was looking at some of the maps of previous studies that are shown and it strikes me that part of the reason that this sort of test misses my dialect is that there is a very low rate of response from the Rocky Mountain region in both the US and Canada, and that the few responses they have are very diverse. As a result, we get lumped in with whatever area is most similar.

Response bias is going to be a significant issue for this study.

Abr 16, 2014, 10:42 am

I show a double concentration, one in Northeastern New Jersey and the other in southern Florida. I live in Long Island presently and have lived three times in Jacksonville, Florida (the redness of my map is only a shade lower for North Florida). So, I take this to mean I have a northeast dialect with many Floridian expressions, which is not far off the mark. I have also lived in SE Michigan and in SE Massachusetts, and was born in Rhode Island (but moved to Tennessee as an infant).

Abr 16, 2014, 10:57 am

The distributions for Australia aren't working at the moment, but on the previous version of this survey, I was surprised to see "crawfish" as used in Melbourne for "yabbie".
I can't recall ever hearing "crawfish" here, except for a local blues radio programme "Son of crawdaddy". I wonder if it's an import (there's no quarantine on words alas), or if the respondents were from somewhere else.

Abr 16, 2014, 12:34 pm

I'm a native Brooklynite also showing up as triangulated between New York, Yonkers and Newark.

Abr 16, 2014, 1:31 pm

I took it. Dead on.

Abr 17, 2014, 12:25 am

New York, Yonkers & Newark for me. I left the NYC area in 1965. Once a New Yorker...

Editado: Abr 17, 2014, 2:14 am

>30 .Monkey.:

"Regular shoes with laces?" Interesting.

Where I grew up they were canvas shoes with rubber soles and laces meant for playing outdoors; introduced in the 1950's. My siblings and I started wearing them when we had "playtime," not yet "gym class" at school.

And the survey was correct for me.

Abr 17, 2014, 6:52 am

>44 Diane-bpcb: So...what is it you're saying they're called?

Abr 17, 2014, 10:13 am

>30 .Monkey.: Etc... It's interesting how many folks in this "conversation" talk of the local names of casual shoes. I was raised in Chicago proper and gym shoes were the name at the time and, for me, still the same. We went to gym class. No free form playing, no kid democracy on what to do.

Abr 17, 2014, 11:18 am

My mom is from Michigan, born in the 40s, and she also calls them gym shoes, for what it's worth. :)

Jun 8, 2017, 6:51 pm

Man, I just took the test again, and the darkest red area was centered on the entire State of North Dakota, where I was born and raised. Crazy.

Meanwhile, while conducting tours at a tourist destination in Scottsdale, Arizona, I was asked by several people about my "accent". Curious about the question, I asked them where they thought I was born and raised. Three people guessed Boston, New York, and Britain.

Jan 24, 2018, 10:22 pm

For me the darkest red area was centered on Oakland and Fremont. I was born in nearby Albany, lived in Oakland and Richmond (CA) as a child (with a brief hiatus in South Carolina), spent my teen years in San Leandro (which is Oakland's neighbor to the south), and now live in beautiful Berkeley. Interestingly enough, I have been told that I don't sound Californian! I think that's because I don't use a lot of slang--or maybe because I don't sound like someone from southern California.

Mar 9, 2019, 4:54 pm

I've taken this test twice a few years apart, and my red spots end up in West Virginia and North Carolina. Not me.

I spent most of my first ten years in Pittsburgh (also, both my parents and regularly visited relatives are from Pittsburgh), so I have a residual Pittsburgh accent -- dahn for down, worsh for wash, spicket for spigot, yins for plural you (depending on who I'm talking to), etc. But I've lived for over 50 years in the Maryland suburbs of Washington (aka Worshinton) DC so I also say y'all, and soda instead of pop, etc. My Pittsburgh cousins think I have a Southern accent. (No Southerner would think so.)

So my language markers are a confusing mix, and I guess WV and NC is the best the test can come up with.