Last Saturday, the New York Times published an online quiz called “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” that asked twenty-five questions about certain terms and pronunciations used across the United States. Your answers to these questions would then be used to develop a “personal dialect map” charting which parts of the country have a speaking style that is most similar and least similar to yours. This quiz ended up spreading to many of my friends on Facebook and it reminded me a lot of what we went over dialects in my cultural geography class. The United States is a large country, both by population and by area, so naturally, different regions have their own ways of speaking.
I didn’t really plan on going too much into the intricacies of speech in the United States, but it is a really interesting subject and I bet there are probably many sources available out there on the subject. Instead, I just want to share my results and see what others have wound up with. The quiz does not ask the same twenty-five questions each time you take it, so the maps may look a little different each time you take it. I decided to just screen cap one set of answers and then take the quiz several more times to get a general idea of what cities pop up more often. As long as most of your answers to the questions remain consistent, there shouldn’t be drastic changes between your results each quiz.
– Most Similar Dialect Cities:
Los Angeles, CA; Glendale, CA; Anaheim, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Clarita, CA; Fremont, CA; Corona, CA; Honolulu, HI
This list seems very accurate. It looks like my speech is heavily influenced by California in general, but there are quite a bit of cities in SoCal that were singled out to have major similarities. Los Angeles is pretty obvious because it is the city in which I live, but I was particularly surprised to see Santa Clarita show up a few times because I lived there prior to moving to the valley after 2nd grade.
– Least Similar Dialect Cities:
New Orleans, LA; Shreveport, LA; Akron, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Buffalo, NY; Rockford, IL; Detroit, MI; Toledo, OH
According to these results, I speak the least similar to many cities in the South and Midwest. I’ve never been to any of the cities that I listed above, but I think it would be interesting to visit and see what kind of differences are out there and whether people there would be able to place me as an outsider because of the way I speak.
The questions used for this quiz and the maps showing where certain terms and sayings are more popular or less popular come from a study called the Harvard Dialect Survey that concluded ten years ago in 2003 by Bert Vaux and Scott Golder under the Harvard University Linguistics Department.
Have you done this quiz? If so, what did you think of your results? I’m especially curious to see the answers of those people who did not grow up in the Untied States and learned how to speak English elsewhere. Leave a comment and let me know!