I Will Float Until I Learn How To Swim

For this week’s Friday Lounge post I’ll be sharing a fun quiz that’s been floating around on my Facebook for the last few weeks.

You may have already heard about it (and possibly taken it yourself), but if not, don’t worry … You will now have the opportunity to check it out!

The quiz is from The New York Times Sunday Review online and was published on Saturday, 12/21/2013.  It’s titled “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” and it can be found here:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html.

The purpose of the quiz is to determine where you sound like you’re from based on the terms/phrases you use and how you pronounce certain words.  It contains 25 questions, and the questions may differ between individuals taking the quiz (Eric took it and was asked a few questions I wasn’t).  Many people find the quiz to be freakishly accurate, but I think my results were kind of weird.

Here’s the thing … I don’t really have an accent.  This isn’t an issue of denial, it’s a fact.  I started actively trying to lose my West Virginian accent (I grew up in the southwestern part of the state and there’s definitely a noticeable accent in that region) when I was only 8 years old.  And I succeeded!  Most people are either surprised when I tell them where I’m originally from (if they’re familiar with the area) or are surprised when I tell them that my friends and family from that area have fairly heavy accents (if they’re not familiar with the way people usually speak in that area).  That being said, my dialect isn’t really indicative of the area I’m from.

After taking the quiz, I got the following results:


If you don’t want to click on the link, I’ll share that I speak most like someone from the following areas:

  • Fremont, California
  • San Jose, California
  • Santa Clarita, California

I’m obviously not from California.  The results aren’t really that surprising to me in some ways, though, since most Californians don’t have a “true” accent.  Although dialect is a slightly different concept than accent, the ideas are similar.  For example, the way you pronounce a specific word could be an influence of both accent and dialect (although dialect could also simply refer to the specific word used).

Interestingly, when Eric took the quiz his results were pretty spot on.  His top three areas were Omaha, Nebraska (where he was born and we currently live), Lincoln, Nebraska (he lived there for a few years), and somewhere in Illinois (I can’t remember the exact city name, but it’s obviously still a Midwestern city).  We definitely pronounce several words differently and also use different words for the same thing, so it was kind of cool to see the impact that had on our results.


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