As part of our ongoing exploration of American dialects—a journey with stops, thus far, here and here and here—we now hereby direct you to perhaps the funnest site yet on our trip. Everyone loves a quiz, at least when it’s not a surprise and doesn’t count too much toward your grade, and this one is free. You might be surprised at the outcome—at how well it “knows” you, how it can peg you on the map. (See the link below for the dialect quiz.)
Dialects are regional varieties in spoken language—akin to accents but a bit deeper. They involve habits and figures of speech, pronunciation (phonology), and vocabulary (lexicology)—all of which can stay with you even if you move geographically or otherwise lose your original accent. Those who study such variations or quirks of language are displaying their findings in increasingly sophisticated and interesting ways, such as the “heat maps” designed by North Carolina State researcher Josh Katz.
Almost like Google Maps pinpointing your exact location with a tiny blue moving dot, linguists can pick you out of a virtual crowd and tell you where you’re from, by analyzing your answers to a selection of tailor-made multiple-choice questions. The quiz and maps are based on responses to the Harvard Dialect Survey, a project begun in 2002 by linguists Bert Vaux and Scott Golder.
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- How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk
Follow this link to the dialect quiz (still available) created by Josh Katz for the New York Times.
(Source: New York Times, December 21, 2013)
- Harvard Dialect Survey
This website contains all 122 of the survey questions and their response data that went into the creation of the dialect quiz/map.
(Source: University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; accessed January 3, 2014)
- Bert Vaux: Dialects
Bert Vaux’s website discusses the dialect survey of phonological and lexical questions he created that forms the basis of the dialect “heat maps”; includes new research on dialects of English outside the United States.
(Source: sitekreator.com; accessed January 3, 2014)
- Beyond “Soda, Pop, or Coke”: Regional Dialect Variation in the Continental US
This web page displays a “dialect poster” created by Josh Katz of North Carolina State University, with his findings and explanations of his statistical methods.
(Source: ncsu.edu; accessed January 3, 2014)
- IDEA: International Dialects of English Archive
This website is the first online archive of primary-source recordings of English dialects and accents as heard around the world.
(Source: IDEA; accessed January 3, 2014)