« Any Lessons For Chicago Politicians? | Main | Same-Sex Marriage Statistically Associated With Lower Mortality Rates »

Friday, December 27, 2013



Here's what I got. http://nyti.ms/KatAz5.

Rockford, Baltimore and San Antonio. I grew up in the midwest, attended school in the south and have lived in the florida mixing pot for some time.

Liza, well I'd say that pretty well maps your movements. Impressive, huh?

My results were puzzling to me. I grew up in Colorado/N Mexico but have spent all my adult life between Dallas TX and Shreveport LA.

My results (took the test twice, so I got slightly different questions) are consistently central AL, specifically Montgomery/Birmingham. I have spent less than a week of my life in either place and more than half of that time was driving thru or around Birmingham as fast as I could.

The only reason I can think of for this is that the area's dialect is sticky through generations. Most of my mother's and a few of my father's direct ancestors were in north central Alabama from the 1790s through the 1860s.

Interesting, Donna. Are you aware of your accent or your use of certain regional words changing over the course of your life?

Yes... and no. On words the test mentions, "y'all" and "you guys" has changed the most, but I still prefer "you guys" and use it unless I'm specifically using "y'all" for effect (and that's done mostly in writing). I answered "you guys" on the test.

My accent is certainly more Southern now than it was in my early years, but I still get asked "Where are you from?" fairly often because I don't quite sound like a native... unless I want to.

Other terms that I can identify where I picked them up are "service road" and that was in the Dallas area. Frankly we didn't have them in the parts of Colorado/NM I was in.

"Freeway" (and, importantly, what it meant) entered my vocabulary in Southern California when I was 12 and my Mom got stopped trying to get on one. The CHP officer kindly educated the entire family.

Until I visited the UK, I used "traffic circle", but found out I like saying "roundabout" better.

"Garage sale" has changed to "yard sale" over the years. I think I use "car-ml" and "carramel" interchangeably because it was hard to decide on that one. Either answer got me the same geographic result.

"Crawfish" entered my vocabulary as an adult. I didn't previously have a word for those creatures.

I just took the test again, and kept my answers pretty much the same except for choosing "y'all". That gave me Shreveport, Jackson MS, and again... Birmingham.

According the little maps, it's my pronunciation of "lawyer" like "flawyer" that is my most distinctive answer for Birmingham when I choose "you guys". When I choose "y'all", it's "y'all" for all three cities. "Service road" is listed for Mobile and Montgomery. I have driven through Mobile AL exactly once, didn't stop.

I'm going to ask the cousins I grew up with that stayed in Colorado to take the test and see where they're "from". Also, my sister's answers should be interesting since she's been in the UK for almost 20 years.

Fascinating. Do report back on your sister/friends if they take it and share their results.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that accents in general have softened. My grandparents lived in the South during my childhood (SC and Roanoke) and accents seemed more pronounced back then. But maybe that's just my memory of it. Same with New Yorkers. At one time, I'd visit and really notice the preponderance of thick NY accents. It doesn't seem quite as strong today. Effects of shared mass media and increased interstate migrations?

I agree about accents softening. I think shared mass media has a lot to do with it, interstate migrations somewhat less.

One of my daughters came up Montgomery/Little Rock. She's the one I spent 3 days with in Montgomery last summer, partly because neither of us had ever been there. Must have influenced us both a lot. She's been in Virginia & SC since high school.

My sister, who has been in Scotland for the past 10 years, Bristol for 5 years before that registered Mesa/Tempe, Chandler/Gilbert AZ and Albuquerque. Albuquerque makes sense for her since she was there for several years as an adult, but I can't remember her ever being in that part of Arizona. I've spent quite a bit of time visiting that area and it didn't "register" for me.

None of my Colorado cousins have responded yet. One of my Arkansas cousins reported Little Rock/Shreveport, ie right on the money.

We'll see, but my working theory is that my cousins on my Mom's side (never in Colorado) will be a lot different than those on my Dad's (lots of Colorado and Arkansas/NE Texas). That will lend some credence to the stickiness through generations... I think. Either way, I'm going to add the results to my genealogy file.

Dr X,

As you know my folks moved me all over the US as a kid, but I have spent almost half of my life in the Illinois/Michigan/Indiana area.

I have been told many many times by various people, from bank tellers to people on the phone, that I sound like a TV or radio announcer. I attribute this to the fact that during my early nomadic years the TV was the only constant dialect I was exposed to.

I have read that the TV networks chose the Indianapolis dialect as a model for broadcasters due not only to its central location in the US population but also due to its "bland" and non-regional sound.

Thus it is ironic that I have settled here in Indy.

The results of my survey did show a reddish orange area that smeared from California across the Mid West (getting redder around Chicago and Indiana) and into the eastern seaboard (reflecting my diverse linguistic influences)

The odd thing is that it also showed a very red area in Florida. It actually highlighted the cities of Orlando, St.Petersburg and Jacksonville.

This startled me since I was born in Jacksonville but moved far north before I was two years old! Also none of my relatives have ever lived in Florida or the South except my mother and father during that less than two year period.

I wonder if I somehow formed speech patterns from that area even though I could barely speak when we moved away never to return. In fact I have never set foot in Florida since,


The comments to this entry are closed.