What is your generic term for a sweetened carbonated beverage?
December 23, 2013 7:52 PM   Subscribe

In 25 questions, it will tell you where you are from (in the US), using results from the Harvard Dialect Survey [prev, now closed]. Don't peek, but this is an answer key of sorts, showing the full results of the survey. Come for the highly accurate maps, stay for the interesting variations - apparently, over 6% of people call a sunshower "the devil is beating his wife," and a small group calls it a "fox's wedding."

You can copy links to your own map as well. I am from Milwaukee, and the quiz nailed it (or I could have been from Yonkers).
posted by blahblahblah (334 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was wicked accurate. I grew up in the center point between the three cities it identified as most similar.
posted by suelac at 7:57 PM on December 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


This put me right in the center of Utah. This quiz did not nail it.
posted by Danf at 7:57 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I took it earlier. Twice. The system could not figure out where I'm from, so both times it picked Yonkers, presumably despite my admission that a group of people is "y'all."

Are there any two words more dissonant than y'all and Yonkers?

Or am I mistaken? Is "y'all" a Yonkersism?

If you think "Yonkers" is fun to say, you should try "Yonkersism."
posted by Elsa at 7:57 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I took lthis awhile back thinking I would get the same result I always get which is some generic you're from the mid-atlantic somewhere between Connecticut or Philadelphia thing - but this was no you're from New Jersey specifically central New Jersey and nowhere else ..and it was right
posted by The Whelk at 7:58 PM on December 23, 2013


which is weird cuz I don't think I sound particularly central New Jersey at all
posted by The Whelk at 7:59 PM on December 23, 2013


This quiz placed me in my town directly, and it's a small town. I wonder what questions were the biggest tells?
posted by sourwookie at 7:59 PM on December 23, 2013


Did it nail me exactly? No.

But it did bracket me. I'll accept that. At least for this north side Chicagoan who spent a lot of time in his youth in North Carolina.

(Toronto? Okay)
posted by eriko at 8:00 PM on December 23, 2013


I got a weird middle ground between the West Coast and Pacific Northwest, putting me in San Jose or a couple towns in Arizona. It's a little weird, but I noticed I usually fell in line with what people say in the western US.
posted by mathowie at 8:00 PM on December 23, 2013


Huh. One of the cities I got, Arlington, VA, is less than twenty miles from where I grew up, and the other two are in inland California. I always did think there were a lot of similarities between NoVa English and Californian.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:05 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, I am so not from Yonkers, nor from the two other NY locations it suggested. I grew up in northern New England and in Texas, with stretches in the suburbs of Boston and in Chicago. I suspect this means I have a scattershot lexicon that stretched the test's diagnostic regionally-distinctive terms too far to be accurate.
posted by Elsa at 8:06 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am from either Seattle, San Jose or Honolulu.

(I'm from Toronto.)
posted by chrominance at 8:07 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Took this the other day and was annoyed that it showed me no maps or results at the end. It acted like it was showing results--"click to see more/less"--but there was nothing to click, and nothing to see.

Couldn't even get my money back, as it was free. Zero of five stars, would not talk funny again.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:07 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Told me I was from New York, which I am not. I think because I call gym shoes "sneakers." I did it again, denying I say "sneakers," and got DC/Baltimore, indeed my home metroplex.
posted by escabeche at 8:07 PM on December 23, 2013


Can properly pronounce "we'll all be making merry when I marry Mary Mac," am better than most of you.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:08 PM on December 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


Took this the other day and was annoyed that it showed me no maps or results at the end

Same here, but it literally took about five minutes for a map to come up with no indication it was still loading. I just happened to leave it running in a tab and switched to something else (because I was pissed at no map or results) only to find it finished many minutes later.
posted by mathowie at 8:09 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It got Boston, but that's because they asked about Rotaries. The unenlightened plebes from outside of the Boston area tend to refer to them as Roundabouts or, if they are truly ignorant, traffic circles.

When I changed my answer for that one, I'm suddenly in Utah or California.
posted by Hactar at 8:09 PM on December 23, 2013


dang. this thing gave me the city I've lived in for the past seven years, plus the city I lived in the two years before that.
posted by xbonesgt at 8:10 PM on December 23, 2013


Apparently I picked up my mother's Sacramento accent.
posted by Shutter at 8:10 PM on December 23, 2013


Wow -- only folks from NY pronounce Mary, marry, and merry differently?
posted by blurker at 8:10 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got as far as the does the first syllable of lawyer rhyme with boy or flaw when I realized that I needed somebody else to listen to me talk and answer for me if there was any hope of my giving accurate answers.
posted by Meeks Ormand at 8:11 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I resent the lack of "devil strip" as a choice for the appropriate option.
posted by Sequence at 8:11 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Apparently there are more than 25 questions and you get a subset...I could do this all night.
posted by Shutter at 8:12 PM on December 23, 2013


Wow -- only folks from NY pronounce Mary, marry, and merry differently?

Marry and Mary are the same, obviously.

Merry is different.

Other answers are obviously by the crazy people who call a sunshower "the wolf is giving birth"
posted by blahblahblah at 8:12 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Marry Merry snd Nary are alk DIFFERENT WORDS what the hell people
posted by The Whelk at 8:12 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This might hold the record for the most double non obituary posts in a calendar year
posted by elizardbits at 8:13 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think because I call gym shoes "sneakers."

My end results pinned the (incorrect) result of Yonkers to "sneakers," but my friend and childhood neighbor from Houston also answered "sneakers" and it tagged her pretty close to home.

It got Boston, but that's because they asked about Rotaries.

I SAID "ROTARY" AND IT STILL SAID YONKERS

YONKERS
posted by Elsa at 8:14 PM on December 23, 2013


There's a different vowel stress in Mary vs. Marry and a slightly elongated r sound.

look I'll admit it"s subtle but it's there
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 PM on December 23, 2013


Apparently from the entirely blue map for that question, nobody knows what a pill bug is in America?
posted by jason_steakums at 8:15 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Honolulu, surprisingly.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:15 PM on December 23, 2013


elizardbits: This might hold the record for the most double non obituary posts in a calendar year

Well, in my defense - the old link is no longer active, so all of those doubles are mere history, wiped away like dead things in a casket/coffin that had been dragged/drug from the pool.

This is the only true post now. The others must be deleted for reasons of purity.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:15 PM on December 23, 2013


NORTH BRONX WANTS TO CLAIM YOU ELSA
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


golly I love saying "YONKERS"

It's even more fun in all caps

posted by Elsa at 8:16 PM on December 23, 2013


Seems like a shockingly small percentage of people call the grassy strip in the middle of the road by its rightful name, a median.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:16 PM on December 23, 2013 [28 favorites]


HAVE AT ME, YONKERS, I DARE YOU
posted by Elsa at 8:17 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


it literally took about five minutes for a map to come up with no indication it was still loading.

Huh. Okay... I'm still feeling bitter and resentful about it, but maybe I'll try it again after I've had time to heal. :)

Anyway, I'm not sure what the utility of it is. I already know where I'm from.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:17 PM on December 23, 2013


This is one of our most evergreen previouslies . MeFi has followed it at every step since it began and moved through various kinds of publication. This interface is particularly nice.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am tickled at their extremely specific and totally correct choice "rubbernecking is the activity (slowing down and gawking) that causes the traffic jam, but I have no word for the traffic jam itself".
posted by jason_steakums at 8:18 PM on December 23, 2013 [34 favorites]


No, I was specifically referring to this previously, not the many others preceding it.
posted by elizardbits at 8:18 PM on December 23, 2013


I resent the lack of "devil strip" as a choice for the appropriate option.

For the grassy piece of land, for the access road, for the strip of sun when it's raining, or for the day before Halloween? So many possibilities. THIS RAISES QUESTIONS.
posted by Elsa at 8:18 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whipping shitties?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:19 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


And yes frosting and icing are different things I mean come on man
posted by jason_steakums at 8:19 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


LETS GO BACK TO YELLING ABOUT WORDS
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bubbler.
posted by usonian at 8:20 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


From Montana, and I sound like Yonkers? The NYT at work, joining us all together. Not. And lookie lou's hang around movie shoots, not accidents.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:21 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frosting is what you put on bare cake surface. Icing is the sugary decorative stuff ontop of fristing.

this isn't freaking rocket science people
posted by The Whelk at 8:21 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ha! I'm an Army brat; I laugh at your regional differentiation because I grew up incorporation all of them. Ugh. Life was confusing for a while.

And the final regional placement was thousands of miles off from where I spent most of my time in the US, so ... poor us. :(
posted by barnacles at 8:21 PM on December 23, 2013


What gives NYT, I get some awesome hyper-detailed choice for rubbernecking but don't get the option of "yard sale or garage sale depending on whether or not the sale takes place on the lawn or in the garage"?
posted by jason_steakums at 8:21 PM on December 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


This quiz (and none of the previouslies, apparently) caused me to do some earnest soul-searching: do I actually pronounce "Aunt" that way, or do I only aspire to pronounce it that way?

Oddly enough, it was mere days ago that I asked The Fella "Hey, do you know the name for that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street? Not the median, not between the roads. The narrow one parallel to the sidewalk." Neither of us knew of any such name.
posted by Elsa at 8:22 PM on December 23, 2013


Icing is also that translucent stuff on donuts.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:22 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the future, every online functionality will be some different visualization of the Harvard Dialect Survey.
posted by threeants at 8:22 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm from Eastern Connecticut, have lived in New York City for 20+ years, and most of my extended family now lives in Cape Cod and I have an aunt from Texas.

It still managed to pin my map down to Connecticut for the most part - and the cities it picked for me were New York, Yonkers, and Springfield, MA. Which sounds chaotic but is probably a really good stab at it.

Although I bet if they asked "what do you call those multicolored bits of candy that you use to decorate cakes and ice cream sundaes" that would really have had an interesting affect on the results.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:22 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, completely didn't even come close to my southern NM, raised by parents from Ohio roots at ALL!

They should have asked if I pronounce the t in "often". That seems to be something pretty singular to where I was raised.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


...and as usual, it had me pegged as a native Masshole. The mary/merry/marry split is a killer tell, I think.
posted by threeants at 8:23 PM on December 23, 2013


Big lesson so far: Everyone is from Yonkers. Everyone.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:23 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


A boulevard is a road that has a median, no? I mean, as long as it's inside a city or town, not like the Interstate is a boulevard or anything.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:23 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm from western Canada - the three cities I've lived in are Victoria, Vancouver and Calgary. It guessed Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland. Pretty good I guess. See where that semi is parked? Kitty corner to us? Run over there in your running shoes and buy me a pop and a sub. Don't trip on the median. We'll get back on the highway soon.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:24 PM on December 23, 2013


LETS GO BACK TO YELLING ABOUT WORDS

YONKERS!
posted by Elsa at 8:24 PM on December 23, 2013


Apparently from the entirely blue map for that question, nobody knows what a pill bug is in America?

I know, right?? This is definitely one where I was confident that I was in the dialectal majority, only to feel so, so alone upon viewing that map.
posted by threeants at 8:25 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


No I'm not from Yonkers and this proves it! Got me to within 150 miles each way.
posted by tamitang at 8:25 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm from rural Ontario and it begs me as Buffalo or Boston, so I guess that's close?

Can someone who pronounces "merry" and "Mary" differently explain the difference in detail. I can imagine saying "marry" differently (if I put on an absurd fake-generic-UK accent), but I can't even think of a possible difference between the other two.
posted by 256 at 8:25 PM on December 23, 2013


A boulevard is a road that has a median, no?


No. A median is in the middle. The boulevard is the portion of road right-of-way on the edge of the road that's grass and/or sidewalk.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:26 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mary: involving a dipthong: Ma-yer-ee, "a" can be long or short depending on regional accent.
Marry: a as in "cat."
Merry: e as in "berry."
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:27 PM on December 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


"What do you call it when the rain falls while the sun is shining?" - options include "the wolf is giving birth," "the devil is beating his wife," "monkey's wedding," and "liquid sun" - well I didn't call it any of those things because I didn't know they even existed as concepts but geez now I kinda want to. That wolf birth one is kinda gross when you think about it though. Refreshing summer amniotic fluid showers!
posted by jason_steakums at 8:27 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, how do you pronounce "bay"?
posted by 256 at 8:28 PM on December 23, 2013


How did it peg me to the Midwest? I told it I say "soda" and all three syllables of "caramel"! Witchcraft.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:29 PM on December 23, 2013


Can someone who pronounces "merry" and "Mary" differently explain the difference in detail.

in IPA (for me):

merry is mɛri

Mary is (approximately) mæ̃ri
posted by threeants at 8:29 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


We always called that strip of grass between sidewalk and road 'the easement', or, if we know the homeowners, 'their easement'.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:29 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Goosy night? Really? Goosy night?
posted by jason_steakums at 8:30 PM on December 23, 2013


Wasn't 'foxes wedding' in Kurosawa's Dreams?

This nailed me in New Orleans but I'm convinced it was the 'neutral ground' center of a boulevard that did it. Otherwise, I'm pretty generic Southern.
posted by Anitanola at 8:30 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course they are called "sneakers". Its so we can sneak around while you're not looking.
posted by cazoo at 8:31 PM on December 23, 2013


We always called that strip of grass between sidewalk and road 'the easement', or, if we know the homeowners, 'their easement'.

I grew up calling it the "devil's strip". That wasn't even an option!
posted by hippybear at 8:31 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


it literally took about five minutes for a map to come up with no indication it was still loading

maybe that's what happened with me, because I just gave up, assuming it knew I was secretly Canadian and thus f***ing with it.
posted by philip-random at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wasn't quite sure what I was supposedly doing in Santa Clarita, but the test also correctly stuck me in Los Angeles (my place of birth) and Irvine (where I went to college). Apparently, living in the midwest and upstate NY since 1992 has done nothing to my accent or usage.

(I have been taken to task by students for calling Coca-Cola "soda" instead of "pop.")
posted by thomas j wise at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


At least for me, it gave a rundown of the strongest tells for specific regions. I thought it was just the places I work/live being weird, but apparently I come from a people with plentiful garages from which to sell things.

Garage sales for life! Yard sales belong on a yard!
posted by pwnguin at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


ẽ? Really?
posted by 256 at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013


"What do you call it when the rain falls while the sun is shining?"


I call it a Credence.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sand shoes if yourer obnoxiously archaically affected

thankfully I am noxiously affected
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013


From Montana, and I sound like Yonkers?

Neighbor! Where'bouts in Yonkers are you? I'M RIGHT HERE IN YONKERS PROPER*.

*You know you want to say it out loud.
posted by Elsa at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, I was specifically referring to this previously, not the many others preceding it.

I hadn't even seen your comment when I made mine. Just noticing how often this has come up over the years. The HDS is cited now and then in AskMes, too.
posted by Miko at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2013


Okay, on the raining while sunny bit, Wikipedia is intriguing:

"Additionally, the phenomenon has a wide range of sometimes remarkably similar folkloric names in cultures around the world. A common theme is that of clever animals getting married or related to the devil, although many variations of parts of this theme exist."

Here is a Linguist List discussion. Some choice options:
In Bangladesh, the Fox is getting married "shial mamar bia hosse"
In Eritrea, the traditional belief is that the hyena is giving birth.
In France, it is called "le mariage du loup" or "the wolf's wedding"
In Korea, a male tiger gets married to a fox. This seems very specific.
In Mazandarani language, in north of Iran, it is also called "the jackal’s wedding".
In the Netherlands they say that there is a "funfair going on in hell".
In St. Kitts and Nevis, when rain is falling and the sun is shining, it is said that 'D devil a bang he wife'.
In Liberia, it is said that "the devil is fighting with his wife over a chicken bone."

Seriously, there is a mediocre conspiracy theory book to be written about this....
posted by blahblahblah at 8:33 PM on December 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Weirdly it pegged my current location pretty good despite almost every one of my answers being totally blue maps. Weirder, it pegged my current location pretty good despite not moving to that area until later in life, with all of my answers in the questionnaire firmly ingrained whilst living elsewhere.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:34 PM on December 23, 2013


The quiz put me in the Phoenix area, which is off. I grew up in the SF Bay Area but have spent the last four years in Tucson.
posted by Noms_Tiem at 8:34 PM on December 23, 2013


which is weird cuz I don't think I sound particularly central New Jersey at all

Hm. I think that is the thing that sounds Central NJ. It's the thing that causes people, for the rest of your life, to tell you that "you don't sound like you come from New Jersey."

I feel like it has to come down to two or three variables that can triangulate a person as Central NJ but not NY: mischief night being one, merry/mary/marry maybe being another, and...? Not sure.

I don't know if anyone has tried taking the test twice, but it does offer you a different sampling and order of questions if you do.
posted by Miko at 8:35 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


ẽ? Really?

oops, sorry, I amended this to æ̃ within the edit window. I'm having trouble pinning the vowel down. For what it's worth, I pronounce "Mary" exactly the same as the word "mare" (as in horse) + ee.
posted by threeants at 8:37 PM on December 23, 2013


Can someone who pronounces "merry" and "Mary" differently explain the difference in detail.

The first syllable vowel in "merry" is the same as the first vowel in "herring".
"Mary" rhymes with "airy", or "contrary" like in the nursery rhyme.
posted by Thing at 8:37 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Woah different questions the next time. I wanted to try again on a VPN that puts my IP in Canada just to see if there are any shenanigans afoot, but they switched up the questions. Including an incredibly annoying one, because the correct answer is clearly "dinner is later, lunch is earlier, supper is a weird word."
posted by jason_steakums at 8:38 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Do you want a coke?" "Sure!" "What kind?" "Orange."
posted by hippybear at 8:38 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


The first syllable vowel in "merry" is the same as the first vowel in "herring".
"Mary" rhymes with "airy", or "contrary" like in the nursery rhyme.


Heh, this is making me chuckle, because the discussion pretty much inevitably breaks down without IPA or some other sort of standard-- I think that for someone without a merry/Mary/marry split, the vowels in "herring", "airy", and "contrary" all sound the same anyway and thus this explanation leaves them completely scratching their heads.
posted by threeants at 8:39 PM on December 23, 2013 [18 favorites]


I have never been to Yonkers and yet
posted by rtha at 8:39 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"What do you call the game wherein the participants see who can throw a knife closest to the other person" ... uh?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:40 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the grassy piece of land, for the access road, for the strip of sun when it's raining, or for the day before Halloween? So many possibilities. THIS RAISES QUESTIONS.

Grass between road and sidewalk is the devil strip in one tiny place. Hippybear's parents are from--what, Summit or Portage County? I don't even think it gets as far north as Cuyahoga, and I'm unsure about points south. And yet here it's so ubiquitous that I did not know that there was another name for it until fairly late in adolescence.
posted by Sequence at 8:40 PM on December 23, 2013


Got it right.

And where I grew up, we say: "The devil is beating his wife with a frying pan."
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:40 PM on December 23, 2013


Not an American (southern Ontario born and raised) but tried it anyway. During most of the questions, it gave me "most similar" answers that were literally all over the map (except for a few that were totally blue/least similar). But as soon as I got to the carbonated beverage question, I knew that would provide a pretty good clue where I was located.

In the end it put me in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Rockford. The first two were because of the pop answer. The third was because of the diagonal on the street questions (the other one I thought would really narrow the field down) I answered as "kitty corner"--although to be fair, I've heard a lot of people in my geographic area use "katty corner".
posted by sardonyx at 8:41 PM on December 23, 2013


merry = MEH-ree
Mary = MARE-ree
marry = MAH- ree

who even are you linguistic savages
posted by elizardbits at 8:41 PM on December 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Hippybear's parents are from--what, Summit or Portage County?

My father is from rural Coshocton County and my mother is from Columbus.
posted by hippybear at 8:41 PM on December 23, 2013


I don't know if anyone has tried taking the test twice

I took it twice. Would you like to guess where it thinks I'm from? Both times? Even with different questions?
















I'm going to say it, y'all, I'm pretty excited



YONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNKERS!
posted by Elsa at 8:42 PM on December 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am from either Seattle, San Jose or Honolulu.

(I'm from Toronto.)
Same here! Torontonian being mapped to Seattle, San Jose and Honolulu. Which is weird, I'd thought I would map to the East Coast not all the way west.
posted by tksh at 8:42 PM on December 23, 2013


With the different set of questions (answering the questions from last time the same) I am now pegged as being from Florida. Which is actually more accurate since I spent a few formative language-learnin' years there, but I don't think I ever thought about stuff like medians and service roads in those years so eh.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:43 PM on December 23, 2013


There's something about San Jose and Honolulu. I was mapped to those two plus Arlington, which is damn close to my actual hometown, Washington DC.
posted by googly at 8:44 PM on December 23, 2013


I don't know if anyone has tried taking the test twice.

I did. The first time, it placed me in Phoenix on the basis of having drive-through liquor stores but not having a word for them (they exist in Tucson but not in the Bay Area, at least not to my knowledge). The second time, I told it I didn't know what those things were, and it placed me in LA.

This is patently false, as no one in southern California has the good taste to use "hella" as an emphasis word.
posted by Noms_Tiem at 8:44 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh, this is making me chuckle, because this discussion pretty much inevitably breaks down without IPA or some other sort of standard-- I'm pretty sure for someone without a merry/Mary/marry split, the vowels in "herring", "airy", and "contrary" all sound the same and this leaves them completely scratching their heads.

I can put it in IPA if you want:

Merry has the vowel [ɛ].
Mary has the vowel [ɛː].
posted by Thing at 8:45 PM on December 23, 2013


I have lived all over the US, but somehow, this picked 3 cities within an hour of where I lived from the time I was born till I was 10. Crazy.
posted by KGMoney at 8:45 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That drive-through liquor store "they have these in my area but I have no special term for them" answer is a dirty cheat.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:45 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It pegged me at either Miami or Honolulu, which is weird because there's a tiny little blip on the heatmap in those places, whereas the entirety of Massachusetts (where I grew up) and New York (where I live now) and Vermont and New Hampshire (where I spent a lot of time skiing in the winters) were bright-ass red. Or bright ass-red. Whichever.

Wish I knew IPA (and I don't mean the beer) well, because this stuff is actually pretty interesting to me.

Anyway, the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road is called "stupid thing is hard to mow...", Mary, Marry, and Merry are three different words, and

"What do you call the game wherein the participants see who can throw a knife closest to the other person"

Saturday.

It never asked me if I use "wicked". A little disappointed, here.
posted by mrgoat at 8:45 PM on December 23, 2013


Did anybody here ever refer to soda or pop as "tonic"? Because I did when I was growing up in SE Mass back in the 1970's, but then we stopped calling it that and started to refer to it as soda. And now I never hear anybody call it tonic. Ever. I am wondering if I experienced a linguistic change in real time.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:46 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


"What do you call the game wherein the participants see who can throw a knife closest to the other person"

I have never heard of this game before and now I have many more pressing questions than "Where are you from?"
posted by Elsa at 8:48 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any answer other than "WHAT!?!?" for the knife-throwing game pegs your location as a debauched hidden 18th century pirate's cove.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:50 PM on December 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


also i sometimes start pronouncing things like they are hashtags in elizardbits' tumbler

#it is a weird life i have #it is a remarkably consistent syntax
posted by mrgoat at 8:52 PM on December 23, 2013


Did anybody here ever refer to soda or pop as "tonic"? Because I did when I was growing up in SE Mass back in the 1970's

I heard it as recently as the late 80s/early 90s, working in a gourmet deli in a tourist town in Maine, always by visitors (and yeah, by accent, I'd say those customers were from Mass). We'd have to instruct staff members from elsewhere what it meant, or we lost beverage sales when customers asked for "tonic" and were told we didn't carry it.
posted by Elsa at 8:52 PM on December 23, 2013


a slightly elongated r sound

English doesn't distinguish between different lengths of consonant sounds — you're thinking of Italian.
posted by John Cohen at 8:53 PM on December 23, 2013


Heh. My wife got to the knife-throwing question, turned, looked at me, and read the question aloud.

Mumbletypeg, I said immediately. This is a real game we played as kids. In Canada.
posted by 256 at 8:53 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


It nailed me: Florida and Tristate. Which makes sense, since I was born in Florida and raised by NY/NJ people.

Also, this: "What do you call it when a driver changes over one or more lanes way too quickly?"

The appropriate answer is "A Tampa lane change." Because we have it down to a fucking art form over here.
posted by cmyk at 8:53 PM on December 23, 2013


"What do you call the game wherein the participants see who can throw a knife closest to the other person"

mumblety peg, surely
posted by elizardbits at 8:54 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"What do you call the game wherein the participants see who can throw a knife closest to the other person"

middle school
posted by threeants at 8:55 PM on December 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


weirdly Italian is the only nonEnglish language I can speak with any iota of skill
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 PM on December 23, 2013


"What do you call the game wherein the participants see who can throw a knife closest to the other person"
I have never heard of this game before and now I have many more pressing questions than "Where are you from?"


You point out a missed opportunity. As you take the quiz the second time, the questions get more disturbing and surreal:

"What do you call a body drained of all of its blood?"
"The hook-handed figure made his blood fizz like a carbonated beverage. What do you call that carbonated beverage?"
"How do you refer to the first child who disappears from your home one night? (First in your family, not first ever)"
"When describing the keening noise everyone hears during full moons, do you say it is 'the childtakers' or 'the burrowers' or something else?"
"When you are wearing someone else's skin, are you 'skinwalking' or 'skinning about'?"
"When the Hooded Men come, what do you call their vehicles?"
"Do you remember anything before coming to Yonkers?
posted by blahblahblah at 8:56 PM on December 23, 2013 [62 favorites]


and it's not knife throwing, it's stabbing rapidly between your fingers around a palm placed on the table
posted by elizardbits at 8:56 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


As you take the quiz the second time, the questions get more disturbing and surreal:

And that's where the "devil's strip" comes in. I knew it!
posted by Elsa at 8:57 PM on December 23, 2013


I am now utterly fascinated, because I have literally never met anybody from as far as Columbus who recognizes a devil strip. Evidently sometimes things drift further than you'd think. It's generally regarded as an Akronism.

Absent that option, I was fascinated that it pegged me as either Akron... or Omaha. The part that actually made me Akron was 'potato bug', which I almost didn't select because I'd used both that and pill bug pretty interchangeably.
posted by Sequence at 8:59 PM on December 23, 2013


As you take the quiz the second time, the questions get more disturbing and surreal:

It marked me as Night Vale.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:59 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Elsa, It's Yonkahs.
posted by zarq at 8:59 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a different vowel stress in Mary vs. Marry and a slightly elongated r sound.

Unless your accent makes "merry" sound more like "Murray." That's not subtle at all.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:00 PM on December 23, 2013


elizardbits: I think you're referring to the Knife Game, not mumbletypeg.

(though admittedly, the version of mumbletypeg I played had you throwing the knife at your own body, as in the first example on wikipedia, but that's certainly close enought htat I knew what game they were referring to)
posted by 256 at 9:00 PM on December 23, 2013


I can't ever think about all the names for a mountain lion without thinking of the Brunching Shuttlecocks "Names for Felis Concolor" article.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:00 PM on December 23, 2013


What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
[] sunshower
[] the wolf is giving birth
[] the devil is beating his wife
[] monkey's wedding
[] fox's wedding
[] pineapple rain
[] liquid sun
[] I have no term or expression for this

[] other
OK seriously, what the hell, people?
posted by zarq at 9:01 PM on December 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I grew up in Victoria BC and Cranbrook. It pegged my accent as Spokane and Tacoma, WA and interestingly, Pembrooke Pines, FL. Is the annual migration of Canadian snowbirds affecting US regional accents?
posted by Grimgrin at 9:01 PM on December 23, 2013


soft drink + pill bug + lightning bug + the devil's beatin' his wife = within a 40 mile radius of my hometown
posted by infinitewindow at 9:01 PM on December 23, 2013


ROLY POLY's! :D :D
posted by zarq at 9:02 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Elsa, It's Yonkahs.

Not to me because I AM NOT FROM THERE

oh gawd

I am starting to doubt myself
posted by Elsa at 9:02 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that for someone without a merry/Mary/marry split, the vowels in "herring", "airy", and "contrary" all sound the same anyway and thus this explanation leaves them completely scratching their heads.

As someone who has the exact same vowel in merry/Mary/marry -- yes, the relevant vowel in all those words sounds exactly the same. I also have a cot/caught merger so I look forward to the lies comments about how "Don" and "Dawn" sound different.

(I'm from the Los Angeles area, and having taken the test 4 or 5 times it pretty accurately always pegs me as coming from California, vacillating back and forth between the Bay Area or LA.)

I've since lived in Chicago and New England; the very first regionalism I picked up on was, probably unsurprisingly, highway terminology -- the generic term for a high-speed, limited-access road was always the "freeway" growing up, not the "highway," and it was of course "the 10" or "the 5" or "the 110" -- definite article mandatory. I clearly remember the moment when I was like oh! When everyone says the "highway" they actually mean the freeway.
posted by andrewesque at 9:02 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
[] sunshower
[] the wolf is giving birth
[] the devil is beating his wife
[] monkey's wedding
[] fox's wedding
[] pineapple rain
[] liquid sun
[] I have no term or expression for this
[] other


This is a weird one. I call it monkey's wedding. But I learned that in Singapore. It's a Chinese saying!
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:02 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm pretty sure "pineapple rain" is a calypso Prince tribute band
posted by threeants at 9:03 PM on December 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


Also I remember taking a similar (if not the same) quiz like ten years ago at a Harvard website, and providing the zip code I grew up in to help them draw their maps more precisely and accurately. So it might just be that soft drink + pill bug + lightning bug + the devil's beatin' his wife = me.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:03 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Apparently I'm from New Yawk.
posted by zarq at 9:03 PM on December 23, 2013


Wait what firefly = "peenie wallie"? What is going on in this country.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:03 PM on December 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


It pegged me to my hometown without asking barely any of the questions I'm seeing mentioned here. I'm pretty sure there's a 100 mile radius of "roly-poly" or something.
posted by travertina at 9:04 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not to me because I AM NOT FROM THERE

We're all from Yonkahs metaphor-ic-ally speakin'.
posted by zarq at 9:05 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I nominate blahblahblah for best against-the-guidelines use of the edit window.
posted by 256 at 9:06 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a thing I've been wondering whether it's a New England regionalism: I call any store where you get food "the market", as in "I'm going to the market", even if that's a ginormous food superstore encompassing thousands of square feet. People in other places I've lived have felt that sounded quaint, like I thought I was going to some sort of Provençal village market to buy leeks out of a wicker basket.
posted by threeants at 9:07 PM on December 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


It got my exact sub location in San Diego after I took the test which is creepy and hysterical but that doesn't matter because I gotta know:

Where the fuck are these mythical drive through liquor stores that the quiz purports to exist??!?!!
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:07 PM on December 23, 2013


Yes, "the market" is a cute little gathering of vendors with stalls and wagons. The food store is a "supermarket." You can tell the difference by the "super."
posted by 256 at 9:08 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Woah hey, so I was looking at pill bugs on Wikipedia because of this, and apparently pill millipedes are an entirely different thing that just looks similar, and now I know why all the pill bugs in the US look all janky compared to the ones I grew up with in England.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:09 PM on December 23, 2013


As someone who has the exact same vowel in merry/Mary/marry -- yes, the relevant vowel in all those words sounds exactly the same. I also have a cot/caught merger so I look forward to the lies comments about how "Don" and "Dawn" sound different.

My apologies. I hadn't thought how extensive the merger is, not being personally familiar with it. It's amazing you poor souls have any vowels left whatsoever.
posted by Thing at 9:09 PM on December 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


It put me either in Santa Rosa/Sacramento/Tempe which is in/near actually places I lived during me "formative" years.

Tempe had Jerry's Drive Thru Liquor. The correct name for a drive through liquor store is "Drive Through Liquor Store"
posted by birdherder at 9:09 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did notice though that my usage of "gut" for an easy high school/college course is more similar to Northeast usage than anywhere else, including California.

That makes sense because I went to college in New England -- however, I'm now wondering, what would be the choice that would be more California-like? I honestly don't know; anyone want to enlighten me?
posted by andrewesque at 9:10 PM on December 23, 2013


I feel like telling me that my accent matches Arlington, VA is like the quiz saying "I don't know you're from, uh, a place. I dunno. Fine. Uh, I guess Arlington."

I spent the first 18 years of my life in the deep south, but I was really stubborn about not picking up the accent.
posted by Alison at 9:10 PM on December 23, 2013


Vwls? Wh nds vwls?
posted by Sequence at 9:11 PM on December 23, 2013


Third go-round puts me in Denver. I feel like being able to go through the entire set of questions in one go would probably be better instead of this thing where you're only taking a small portion of the test each time.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:12 PM on December 23, 2013


Where the fuck are these mythical drive through liquor stores that the quiz purports to exist??!?!!

Haha I feel like if you pick "I have never heard of such a thing" the map in that case pretty closely adheres to state lines for the most part, which makes sense given the subject matter and state-by-state liquor laws: clearly very few people in California, Nevada or Utah have heard of such a thing, but the Arizonans and New Mexicans are totally down with picking up liquor in the drive through.
posted by andrewesque at 9:12 PM on December 23, 2013


Where the fuck are these mythical drive through liquor stores that the quiz purports to exist??!?!!

There was one a two-minute walk from my apartment in Tucson.
posted by Noms_Tiem at 9:15 PM on December 23, 2013


Vwls? Wh nds vwls?

Sure, if you're completely omitting vowels, simple phrases aren't that hard. But put an unexpected vowel sound into a simple request or command and it gets harder fast.

I have had conversations where I and another native English speaker with a different accent have found each other mutually unintelligible for such simple requests as "Pass me that pen" or "What's in the drawer?" I would have said I have very little regional accent, but clearly to those folks, I did.
posted by Elsa at 9:15 PM on December 23, 2013


Way off. My cities are Omaha, Lincoln, and Oklahoma City. I'm from Oakland. People who have never met me before from all across the globe (> 5 of them) have asked me within a minute of first saying "hello" if I was from the East Bay.

Interesting nevertheless. My mom was from near Lincoln.
posted by bukvich at 9:18 PM on December 23, 2013


I was kind of snickering at how many of the per-question maps seemed off, until it got to the end and gave me this. Um. According to this, Oakland (where I live) and the Peninsula (where I grew up) have the same dialect/accent (down to the Don/Dawn divide), so yeah, they nailed it.
posted by Lexica at 9:18 PM on December 23, 2013


Wasn't even close for me. It put me in Sacramento but I've lived in Minneapolis my whole life. It's probably because I refuse call soda by the wrong word.
posted by zixyer at 9:22 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wasn't even close for me. It put me in Sacramento but I've lived in Minneapolis my whole life. It's probably because I refuse call soda by the wrong word.

Dirty pop.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:23 PM on December 23, 2013


The game is over if you get asked the "grass between the sidewalk and the street" question and you answer "tree lawn." That's pure Cleveland. I grew up there and went to college in Cincinnati. I was stunned when they told me they didn't even have a name for it. Yet tree lawns seemed to come up in conversation once a day while I was growing up.
posted by How the runs scored at 9:24 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently I'd be right at home in the western end of New York State, what looks to be Bullhead City Arizona, and even more weirdly, Long Island. None of those is even remotely close. The only place I really, really would not fit in? New Orleans.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:25 PM on December 23, 2013


It pegs me as being from Michigan, specifically Traverse City. I've never lived outside coastal California, but both my parents are from that neighborhood.
posted by contraption at 9:25 PM on December 23, 2013


Born in West Virginia, grew up in the burbs of Atlanta. It said I was from either Chattanooga, Birmingham, or Jackson. Close enough.
posted by snwod at 9:26 PM on December 23, 2013


These things always put me in northern California instead of southern California. I went to college in the Bay Area, but I did all my formative English learning in Socal! I will grant though that I did a lot of learning from books and TV, so maybe that's why my accent skews north.
posted by yasaman at 9:29 PM on December 23, 2013


I took it twice--with some different questions--and was outraged that both times it pinned me to YONKERS, NYC, and Boston.

I'm from Baltimore. I swear we say 'sneakers' down here, too!

I've moved around a lot, though, so I think that some phrasings I picked up in my time in other regions must've skewed it.

I was pleased, though, that apparently I talk least like someone from Pittsburgh. Damn skippy!
posted by TwoStride at 9:30 PM on December 23, 2013


I took the earlier, longer quiz and got mostly the deep South, and I got the same result from this one. I decided to peek at the key to see what other respondents from my home state (Tennessee) chose:

-I chose "traffic circle" instead of "roundabout", the most popular answer. I blame this on 12 years in DC.
-Almost 60% of Tennessean respondents said they had no phrase for raining while the sun shines. Horseshit, I say. Probably my family is just unusually hickish, but I've heard "the devil is beating his wife" ever since I was in diapers.
-"Shopping cart" got 54% of the TN vote. I never, in my entire 18 years in Tennessee, ever heard anyone call a cart anything but a buggy. Again, maybe my family is just extra hillbilly.

Once again, my least similar city was Minneapolis/St. Paul, which is where I live now. Sounds about right, although most people have been too polite to laugh at my accent yet.
posted by timetoevolve at 9:30 PM on December 23, 2013


Also we didn't have roundabouts where I grew up (I can only imagine the carnage if they did) so I adopted the English term as an adult.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:31 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


From central IL, but it pegged me as between SF, Sacramento, and Reno. But to their credit, the strip up I-55 from St. Louis to Bloomington IL was a bright red. So not wrong, but not statistically weighted heavily enough to override California.
posted by sbutler at 9:36 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm from Portland and I think it's kind of strange that we don't have a term for sunny and raining at the same time.

Maybe it's because it's never, ever sunny.
posted by chrchr at 9:38 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK I did it again. Grand Rapids, Des Moines, Salt Lake City. Way off. Still the intersection of the arc from trial one with the arc from trial two is pretty close to where my mom is from.

Both tests have me as an Antichrist for northeastern people which also is close to factual.
posted by bukvich at 9:42 PM on December 23, 2013


I've taken this thing three times now, trying to get Seattle, and it keeps putting me in Portland. I guess there's nothing for it but to move, since I clearly can't figure out what it is I'm saying wrong. (And I've never even been to Reno, the #2 guess every time.)
posted by hades at 9:44 PM on December 23, 2013


the version of mumbletypeg I played had you throwing the knife at your own body

yeah, while standing, throwing it at your own foot

hours of fun!
posted by elizardbits at 9:44 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


After several attempts, I am definitively from Philadelphia. I get that "hoagie" pins me, but the one I was surprised about was "mischief night." Seriously, only Philly + suburbs use that? If the rest of you guys aren't making mischief, you're doing it wrong.

Also I need to remember never to move to Minnesota. Nobody will understand me.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:45 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


anyway, suspicions confirmed. I don't have an accent, but everybody else does.
posted by philip-random at 9:46 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did notice though that my usage of "gut" for an easy high school/college course is more similar to Northeast usage than anywhere else, including California.

That makes sense because I went to college in New England -- however, I'm now wondering, what would be the choice that would be more California-like? I honestly don't know; anyone want to enlighten me?


I'm from California, but went to college in Central Virginia (the only other non-dark blue portion of the map for "gut" on that question) so I can't help you. I've never heard a term for that kind of thing in California.
posted by LionIndex at 9:58 PM on December 23, 2013


It would be great if it just pretended to analyze the questions , but picked cities based on the IP address of your ISP. Especially if your ISP is based in YONKERS.
posted by davejay at 10:02 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pfffft, Yonkers doesn't really exist. It's clearly the "we have no idea" default.

took it for a third time and changed more answers and still got YONKERS
posted by TwoStride at 10:05 PM on December 23, 2013


PG-13 rated term for female mammaries?
[ ] Bazongas
[ ] Hooters
[ ] Honkers
[ ] YONKERS

posted by tonycpsu at 10:06 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow, it nailed me. It shows me as between Fremont, Santa Rosa and Sacremento. I've lived in the Bay Area my whole life.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:10 PM on December 23, 2013


This is the most accurate of these quizzes I've ever taken. I got New Orleans and Baton Rouge, as well as New York, with a vague yellowish orange blur over southern California. Born in New Orleans, lived in Baton Rouge for a few years as a child, and did the rest of my growing up within 100 miles of both places. Lived in New York for my entire adult life. In Los Angeles for a year.

NAILED IT.
posted by Sara C. at 10:11 PM on December 23, 2013


Wichita, Kansas, checking in. Though actually from North BC. Close enough!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:16 PM on December 23, 2013


This nailed me as NYC/New Jersey.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:17 PM on December 23, 2013


Wondering about this stuff, I have wandered into a wiki article titled Phonological history of English vowels and I don't understand it all but it's interesting.

And I'm Canadian and it keeps trying to peg me as Californian instead of North Dakotan or Minnesotan which would be the closest geographically and when I've been there they sound normal to me.
posted by RobotHero at 10:23 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm from Baltimore. I swear we say 'sneakers' down here, too!

I KNOW RIGHT
posted by escabeche at 10:26 PM on December 23, 2013


"Tennis shoes" is weird and I don't know why I say it. It's, like, every-soda-is-Coke levels of wrong.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:28 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am Australian but I thought I'd have a go anyway.

New York
Yonkers
Baton Rouge

I think I broke it.
posted by chiquitita at 10:29 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


RobotHero: The Southern Ontario accent and the generic California accent are famously similar.
posted by 256 at 10:29 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a thing I've been wondering whether it's a New England regionalism: I call any store where you get food "the market", as in "I'm going to the market", even if that's a ginormous food superstore encompassing thousands of square feet. People in other places I've lived have felt that sounded quaint, like I thought I was going to some sort of Provençal village market to buy leeks out of a wicker basket.

Yes, that's a Boston regionalism. I had a coworker from there who said that. Except she pronounced it "Mahkit", of course.

I never know what to do with food shopping terms.

I grew up in Louisiana calling it The Store. Period. Food shopping is "going to the store". Grocery Store if clarifying is necessary. But mostly "The Store". (Yes, yes, there's the "making groceries" expression too, but come on, I'm not from the Ninth Ward.)

In New York, it was definitely the "Supermarket". Which just felt needlessly specific. Especially since, srsly, you call those supermarkets? Let's not kid ourselves, here.

I have no idea what I'm supposed to be saying in LA, though it is slowly dawning on me that the little shop on the corner I keep calling a "bodega" is actually a "liquor store". Which is weird, since you can buy liquor in any supermarket. And they sell a lot of stuff that's not liquor. In fact they don't even have a very good liquor selection.
posted by Sara C. at 10:35 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did anybody here ever refer to soda or pop as "tonic"? Because I did when I was growing up in SE Mass back in the 1970's, but then we stopped calling it that and started to refer to it as soda. And now I never hear anybody call it tonic. Ever. I am wondering if I experienced a linguistic change in real time.

I was so excited when I saw that because I absolutely remember adults calling it "tonic" when I was a kid in Boston in the 80s ("you kids wanna tonic?") but never after that. I've lived lots of places and the soda/pop/Coke debate often comes up, and I LOVE blowing people's minds by telling them about the tonic thing. People don't know if I'm pulling their leg, or Boston speech really is as weird as they've been led to believe.

FWIW, I got Boston/Worcester/Providence - I think when I took it before I got the same. Which makes sense because I grew up in Boston and just south of the city. But I've lived in three other cities for significant amounts of time, so I was a bit surprised none of that crept in, especially since I've never considered myself much of a Boston-style talker (I don't have an accent, for instance).
posted by lunasol at 10:37 PM on December 23, 2013


Oh, and yeah, "the market" is a Boston thing.
posted by lunasol at 10:38 PM on December 23, 2013


You folks who call generic sweetened fizzy drinks "tonic", what do you call actual tonic, as used in "gin and tonic"?
posted by pianissimo at 10:39 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm from the UK and it had me pegged as being from Rochester. I didn't even get the "fox's wedding" question.
posted by fight or flight at 10:42 PM on December 23, 2013


Does anybody in America (aside from British expats) say "you lot" and "car boot sale"? I mean, REALLY.

Is there a result that says

WE'RE ON TO YOU, DAMN FURRNRS
posted by Sara C. at 10:45 PM on December 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


My SO calls every convenience store a "corner store" regardless of its proximity to a street corner. MADNESS.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:48 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do occasionally but I am deliberately pretentious.
posted by elizardbits at 10:48 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This South African->English->Canadian had a go too, and got Yonkers & Jackson Mississippi. I guess I have a mental rolodex of terms for things like wood lice/pill bugs and soft drinks/pop, picking the appropriate word depending on the situation, but I tried my best here to select answers appropriate to Southern Ontario and I still seems to have confounded the test. I suppose it's because my 'native' dialect is still English-English, and I've pretty much been faking it here for 25 years.

(yeah, I thought it was weird that a lot of English-English choices were given, like car boot sale and plimsolls. I don't think anybody in the US, or Canada, would use those terms. A car boot sale is nothing like a garage sale for one thing)
posted by Flashman at 10:49 PM on December 23, 2013


Madness indeed as all right thinking people know they are called BODEGAS
posted by elizardbits at 10:49 PM on December 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


yeah what's with not providing the correct term "median" for a grassy strip in the middle of a road?

so I was born in DC, grew up in the rural outskirts of Cincinnati as an only child by a single mother (an upper class Westchester county gal), and lived variously in Baltimore, San Francisco, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and Cincinnati during my formative years (with stints in Germany and South Africa). I moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2001. So what did this map pinpoint?

Albuquerque

Tucson

... and Boston??

I have never actually been to either Tucson or Boston in my entire life, much less lived anywhere I could pick up their linguistic tics. My husband is from ABQ but we've only been together for five years, and we STILL argue about what to call those little grey things you find on the sidewalk (and no, they are NOT "roly-polies" you goddamned heathen those are WOOD LICE, get with the program).

so in summary: what
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:50 PM on December 23, 2013


No, they're called Deps!
posted by Flashman at 10:51 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


All pill bugs are wood lice but not all wood lice are pill bugs.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:52 PM on December 23, 2013


Wasn't 'foxes wedding' in Kurosawa's Dreams?

Worth seeing for a literal interpretation.

nobody knows what a pill bug is in America?

I'd call it an isopod.
posted by ovvl at 10:53 PM on December 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd call it an isopod.

totes adorbz
posted by jason_steakums at 10:56 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


plimsolls

I've seen this term used in the US, but generally much more specifically than it's meant in the UK. (I think?) In the US, plimsolls are low-top canvas sneakers with flat soles and minimal styling. You most often hear it used to refer to off-brand Keds.

I don't think anyone who doesn't work in the fashion industry actually uses the term, much less to refer to all athletic footwear.
posted by Sara C. at 10:57 PM on December 23, 2013


"low-top canvas sneakers with flat soles and minimal styling" pretty much is what 'plimsoll' refers to in the UK - it's a pretty specific thing there too (vs 'trainers'). They were very simple shoes, like espadrilles but with a rubber sole, that you'd use in junior primary school for PE class. Actually I'm not sure if they even exist there anymore - if it's like everything else good and English they've been supplanted by the fancy American things.
posted by Flashman at 11:13 PM on December 23, 2013


Oh, then, they are the same.

Still, nobody in the US calls sneakers "plimsolls", in general. For that particular type of shoe, "Keds" is much more common unless you're selling an off-brand version and can't call them that for legal reasons.

I did grow up saying "Tennis Shoes", though -- one of the few I happily shed when I moved to New York, because seriously I have no idea what shoes you even wear for that.
posted by Sara C. at 11:23 PM on December 23, 2013


I'm the inverse of bukvich -- lived all of my life in Kansas except for the past three months in Denver, and the test lit up 2/3rds of the US and placed me in Modesto/San Jose/San Fran.

Huh.
posted by rewil at 11:30 PM on December 23, 2013


Rochester! Also two other northern cities. But I am from Alberta and Ontario (but not enough to call a truck a "transport").

Hawaii and Washington state were bright red too.

It says "kitty-corner" was the giveaway.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:37 PM on December 23, 2013


San Diego native, but I've taken it twice with slightly different questions each time, and I get pegged as Modesto/Fresno/Bakersfield, which is slightly depressing. My parents are from LA and just outside Chicago, and I kind of wonder if the info for SoCal is tainted a bit from all the transplants who move here, and if we actually have a distinct dialect other than what we picked up from elsewhere.

I've always just called it "the store".
posted by LionIndex at 11:53 PM on December 23, 2013


hmm. after taking it several times and getting different samplings of questions and attempting to game the results a bit it still isn't even close to naming accurate cities.

And I'm getting Tucson every. damned. time.

it would seem for those of us with the more Western regional dialect tendencies, Tucson is our YONKERS.

TUCSON. I'm not even really sure how one properly pronounces it in the local dialect. (err, it is pronounced TOO-sawn, right?)

however the heat maps themselves shows deep reds over the Denver, Cincinnati and San Francisco / Bay regions with a small blip of corresponding orange over the Eastern Shore, so the heat map itself is really close, even if the actual cities it's coming up with are HILARIOUSLY INACCURATE.

Minneapolis? Albuquerque? Boston??

TUCSON
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:54 PM on December 23, 2013


The number of people freaking out because they got Rochester and not Buffalo, or the like, cracks me up. With the possible exception of the Northeast, the fact that this test can guess within a few hundred miles is pretty amazing.
posted by Sara C. at 12:00 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first time I took it, the cities it chose were Albuquerque, Amarillo, and San Antonio. I'm from the first, have unfortunately lived in the second, and lived in Austin. Spooky.

The second time I took it, it chose Amarillo, Lubbock, and Wichita. I briefly lived in Lubbock, but grew up 90 miles from both it and Amarillo. Wichita was weird, although now I live in Kansas City.

It placed my mom squarely in Kansas City (the other two were KC suburbs!), and she was sad that her birth and entire childhood to young adult life in Albuquerque wasn't reflected in the test. I couldn't figure out what she answered differently than me.

We had a long discussion about freeway/highway and agreed that they can be very similar except that freeways never have lights or intersection. But that here in KC it's confusing and people say Highway because things that seem like freeways will occasionally suddenly have a stoplight.

By the way, if the test exclusively was about phonology, then it would be meaningful for non-American — Canadians would be more likely to be placed more near where they actually live. But with other dialectical differences like naming, it's more idiosyncratic and scattered.

If I recall correctly, California is weird because it's a melange of a bunch of regional dialects. Kevin Drum posted today that the test placed him in the north although he's always lived in LA, but he traced it to "frontage road", which they don't have there but he's picked it up from signage when he's driven north.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:02 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


First time I got Worcester, Springfield (MA) and Boston.

Then I took out "rotary" and replaced it with "roundabout" and changed "grinder" to "sub."

Boston, Madison, WI and Minneapolis/St. Paul. I did live in the Midwest for a while but never those two cities. Did go to high school in Mass and some grade school as well (Kindergarten).

And I also call every convenience store a "corner store." Even ones on straightaways.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:23 AM on December 24, 2013


Except liquor stores which are packy stores (package stores). Thus, "makin' a packy run, you want anything?"
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:25 AM on December 24, 2013


I was all, haha, you'll never guess, since my mom is from one state, my dad is from a different state, and I lived in nine different states growing up/early adulthood in the US and now live on a different continent... but hell's bells, they got me, nailing the place I lived the longest in the US: N'Awlins, y'all. I was pretty accommodating, though, since they were smart enough to ask the right questions. I say "neutral ground" and "median," but I only say neutral ground when I'm in New Orleans. I say "sub" and "poor boy" (or po' boy) but I only say po' boy when I'm in Louisiana. I say y'all and "you guys" or "you all" but I don't say y'all to people who won't get the tone thing / understand what the hell I'm saying. Not too shabby, though.

Now, here's what I want to know: how many of you pronounce "pen" and "pin" the same (sounding like the latter)? My (Greek) husband laughs and laughs at me for this*, but I guess it's a southern US thing? (yeah, 6 of the 9 states I lived in were in the south.)

This is an extremely interesting observation on the "Pin-Pen Merger."

Is there a pattern that can explain why the words in List A are pronounced the SAME and why the words in List B are pronounced DIFFERENTLY? To answer this question, you have to look at the sounds that are next to the vowels. Look at the sounds that come after the vowel. What sound is found next to the vowel in all of the examples given in List A?

Huh. I never realized that.


* it's okay; I get to laugh at him when he talks too fast in English and calls the kitchen the "chicken." On the other hand, he gets to laugh at me when I say anything in Greek, ever.
posted by taz at 12:31 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Spooky. Of the three cities I got, one was the hometown of my parents where I spent plenty of time as a child.
posted by chavenet at 12:43 AM on December 24, 2013


TUCSON

It placed me in the disturbingly-specific triangle of Glendale, Scottsdale and Chandler, but oddly not Phoenix. They're all one state too far west, but the heat map is dark enough around Albuquerque that I'll take it. (I bet if I'd answered "we don't have them" instead of "we don't have a name for them" for the drive-up liquor stores they would have gotten it right, as that was my "most distinctive answer" for all thee Arizona cities.)
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 12:52 AM on December 24, 2013


I'm from Manchester in Britain. This put me in New York, Los Angeles and HONOLULU.
what.
posted by runincircles at 1:03 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


-- Roly-poly
-- Fireflies or lighting bugs
-- Casket and coffin are different and I know how
-- Median
-- Rubbernecking is the looking that causes the traffic jam, not the actual jam
-- Freeways are bigger than highways
-- Aunt sounds like caught sounds like cot
-- You all or you guys
-- Crawfish and waterbugs in the creek
-- Sneakers
-- Soda

==> Arlington, VA, which is insanely close to on the money. Almost within sight of where I grew up from ages 3-17.

Also:
-- The Store = anyplace you shop, just like The House = anyplace you live
-- y'all is acceptable, if you're < age 10, upset, and whining, "all y'all [something bad]"
-- Pin and pen sound different (pen = peh-n)

I'm surprised they didn't ask about hair design v. salon v. hairdresser v. etc -- I always look for that difference when I'm traveling. Also, funeral home v. mortuary.
posted by rue72 at 1:05 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It narrowed me down to western New York or southern Florida. Do the people in western New York speak like the people in southern Florida?
posted by pracowity at 1:06 AM on December 24, 2013


I got
New York
Atlanta

And


YONKERS

I lived in London, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Bristol (UK), so potentially that averages out to New York. Or somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. The heat map was trying to give me around DC which is positive.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 1:06 AM on December 24, 2013


I'm surprised they didn't ask about hair design v. salon v. hairdresser v. etc -- I always look for that difference when I'm traveling. Also, funeral home v. mortuary.

I don't think those are regionalisms.
posted by Sara C. at 1:09 AM on December 24, 2013


What on Earth is a "hair design"?
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 1:10 AM on December 24, 2013


I think he's referring to the option of calling your business

PIZZARINA SBARRO: Hair Dresser

or

PIZZARINA SBARRO's Salon

or

PIZZARINA SBARRO's Hair Design And Italian Cuisine

But, again, that's not so much a regionalism as much as a marketing decision.
posted by Sara C. at 1:20 AM on December 24, 2013


Canadian here. I apparently talk like someone from New Jersey or Honolulu. That's a pretty damned wide net
posted by Hoopo at 1:27 AM on December 24, 2013


Growing up poor in the Mid South in mid 20th century, what is referred to as pop or soda was generally called cocola, regardless of the brand. I don't know what they call it now in the Mid South.

With effort, one can change one's accent a bit. When I was in college my classics teacher decided I did not pronounce some Greek words properly because, as he discovered, I couldn't hear the difference between 'e' and 'i' sounds so, before practically every class, he had me practice and then pronounce for him 'pin' and 'pen' until he was satisfied I could hear and properly articulate the two and wouldn't keep making that error. I wish I had had more of that sort of training. I used to advise students to take a course in speech or drama--something that focused on speaking well.
posted by Anitanola at 1:42 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not an error to pronounce pin and pen the same.

Frankly, I regret all the stupid pointless "diction" work I did in elementary drama classes. It was always completely wrong-headed (in terms of what would actually be required of a professional actor), and only succeeded in giving people inferiority complexes, turning people into pedants, and destroying individuality/authenticity.
posted by Sara C. at 1:47 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I’d love to see something like that for German-speaking Europe. Where I live, you can hop on a train, exit it again fifteen minutes later and notice fundamental changes in phonetics, syntax and vocabulary. I only need to travel 30 km east to hear can you change from [kanʃ] to [ku:st], [ʁ] become [r] (I think my home city is actually an island of [ʁ] in a large region of [r], though in a valley about 20 km south they have something like [ɹ]), the diminutive suffix change from [(a)l] to [aɪ], and so on.

I actually think it’s fascinating that we all understand each other.

> With effort, one can change one's accent a bit. When I was in college my classics teacher decided I did not pronounce some Greek words properly because, as he discovered, I couldn't hear the difference between 'e' and 'i' sounds so, before practically every class, he had me practice and then pronounce for him 'pin' and 'pen' until he was satisfied I could hear and properly articulate the two and wouldn't keep making that error. I wish I had had more of that sort of training. I used to advise students to take a course in speech or drama--something that focused on speaking well.

There is nothing correct about splitting pin and pen and it has nothing to do with “speaking well”. Your native accent is exactly as valid as everyone else’s (although it may be farther away from the prestige dialect chosen by society). I actually think it would be more worthwhile for school to teach some basic linguistics instead, so these kinds of misunderstandings don’t come up all the time.
posted by wachhundfisch at 1:49 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm from Merseyside, have a sort of Scouse meets RP accent, and use a lot of Welsh and Brummie words because that's where my parents/grandparents are from. Apparently this makes me a native of New. York, Los Angeles or...

YONKERS.

Also, I'm sort of stunned by the idea of people pronouncing Mary, marry and merry the same way. I can only assume you're attempting to beat the New Zealanders in some sort of international deranged vowels competition.

Where I live, you can hop on a train, exit it again fifteen minutes later and notice fundamental changes in phonetics, syntax and vocabulary.

Isn't that true everywhere on earth?
posted by jack_mo at 1:59 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Grew up in Chicago burbs. In spite of spending more than the past decade in LA, it put me right in the Chicago burbs where I grew up. This is in spite of now using "freeway" rather than "expressway." Impressive.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:19 AM on December 24, 2013


This is the one that puzzled me.
(Italics mine)
How do you pronounce been?

with the vowel in sit
(Like "bin"?)
with the vowel in see
(Like "bean"?)
with the vowel in set
(Like "Ben"?)

Is that right?

There must be other people out there who pronounce it differently based on the previous word / context.

"Where've you been"?
As opposed
"Where's it bin"?
posted by madajb at 2:28 AM on December 24, 2013


I would like to know how many UK people took the test and where it claimed you were from.

I will start.
I got Jackson Mississippi.

I am mainly from Oxford.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:41 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The game with the knife is "chicken."
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:51 AM on December 24, 2013


Some British, and particularly Scottish, pronunciations made their way into Southern US English.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:12 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


it says i'm from washington state and i've never been near the place

of course, if it had heard my strong and obvious r's, it would know i'm from michigan
posted by pyramid termite at 3:14 AM on December 24, 2013


Bubbler.


And I'm blood-red for Madison Wisconsin, even with the "y'all" I picked up in Texas. That's pretty close. The "what do you call a drinking fountain at school" question is what nailed me directly to Central Wisconsin.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:43 AM on December 24, 2013


> Where I live, you can hop on a train, exit it again fifteen minutes later and notice fundamental changes in phonetics, syntax and vocabulary.

Isn't that true everywhere on earth?


Oh, of course, but the degree of change definitely varies. For example, dialects in the south of German-speaking Europe are (perceived by speakers in those regions as) more diverse than those in the north. It seems to me that American dialects are altogether relatively similar to each other, which would make sense considering the relative recency of the introduction of the English language there. Despite the enormous size of the country, it’s relatively rare that I have trouble understanding someone from the US, whereas this commonly happens to me with dialects from the UK.

The 122 questions used in the survey linked in the FPP also appear like comparatively minor differences. When it comes to vocabulary, for instance, such a tool for German would likely have something like “What do you call a potato?” (or a carrot, if you want to offer even more options), “What do you call two girls?” and “How would you ask a coworker to sit down?”. (Although, of course, this might be meaningless because these questions are probably chosen to separate dialects particularly well.)
posted by wachhundfisch at 3:53 AM on December 24, 2013


It got me pretty good. I think it's fascinating how some parts of the country have more vowels to choose from. The inn at the end sold pins and pens.
posted by bleep at 4:05 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The strip of land between the road and the sidewalk is called the "planting strip" here in Seattle. Even if there are no plantings. Even if it is paved over. Is that a general PNW term or specifically the Seattle area?

Also, I said "potato bug," and according to the results page, that was my "most distinctive answer, placing me in Western WA, NW OR, Utah, or a few small patches in NY, PA, and OH -- but growing up we did also call them pill bugs. Potato was the most common version, though.
posted by litlnemo at 4:18 AM on December 24, 2013


"Also, I'm sort of stunned by the idea of people pronouncing Mary, marry and merry the same way. I can only assume you're attempting to beat the New Zealanders in some sort of international deranged vowels competition."

I am similarly stunned that anyone would pronounce them differently! :) I can't hear a difference even from many speakers who insist they pronounce them differently.
posted by litlnemo at 4:20 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


This was pretty accurate for me. I never realized that a sentence as normal to me as, for example, "I went to the party store for some pop on Devil's Night" might be gibberish to some!
posted by Rainflower at 4:27 AM on December 24, 2013


>Where the fuck are these mythical drive through liquor stores that the quiz purports to exist??!?!!

I fudged it on saying "I've never heard of this," because I have seen them in Florida, but it would be unthinkable in my area of the country.
posted by yclipse at 4:34 AM on December 24, 2013


Once again, my least similar city was Minneapolis/St. Paul, which is where I live now. Sounds about right, although most people have been too polite to laugh at my accent yet.

Well, not to your face...that wouldn't be Minnesota nice...or would it?
posted by mygoditsbob at 5:01 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd like to invite all y'all Meefights over for a coke. I've got mountain dew, diet coke, and plain fizzy water.

I think I confused the poor thing 'cause I grew up in a town (a state?) without traffic circles, and when I first encountered them they were roundabouts.
posted by Mngo at 5:01 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The actual maps in the survey are at this link which is perpetually down, but some of them are here, which I think was also previously'd.
posted by capricorn at 5:10 AM on December 24, 2013


The first time, it gave me two cities in Alabama and one in Mississippi. I’ve never lived outside of New York State, and none of my direct ancestors in the U.S. has lived further south than Long Island.

Of course, there was that one question about bugs I’d never heard of, but I’m just not much of a bug person. And I hastily clicked on “water fountain” before I saw that my real first choice, “drinking fountain,” was on the list.

The second time, it gave me Madison and Milwaukee, WI and Rochester, NY, which was much more accurate. No questions about bugs or fountains that time.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:21 AM on December 24, 2013


One one question was really necessary to locate all we drinkers-from-bubblers. Aina hey?
posted by klarck at 5:29 AM on December 24, 2013


Bubbler.
And I'm blood-red for Madison Wisconsin, even with the "y'all" I picked up in Texas.


Bubbler is also very common in the Boston area (where it is pronounced bubbla of course). I had no idea it was also a thing in eastern Wisconsin. I wonder how these highly localized linguistic styles pop up here and there over great distances.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:30 AM on December 24, 2013


And what about "basement" vs "cellar"? Are they different things or are they different ways to refer to the same thing? I recall my housemates in Minnesota being quite confused when I referred to our cellar as the basement.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:33 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The second time, it gave me Madison and Milwaukee, WI and Rochester, NY, which was much more accurate.

I just looked at the map, and if you take out the lakes, it's pretty much dead-on.

-Can someone who pronounces "merry" and "Mary" differently explain the difference in detail.

--The first syllable vowel in "merry" is the same as the first vowel in "herring".
--"Mary" rhymes with "airy", or "contrary" like in the nursery rhyme.


Yes, and those are all exactly the same. ;)

It was a revelation to me, after years of singing The Gondoliers with American singers, to hear an Englishwoman sing, "When a Merry Maiden Marries." Meh? Mar? Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Tessa?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:35 AM on December 24, 2013


I would like to see one of these for Canadians. It has been interesting watching some of my fellow Canadians post their results--they are almost uniformly scattered all over the place. I am from Northern BC (and am now in Southern Ontario) and it has variously had me from Arizona, Colorado, and Kansas. I was expecting Seattle. There are also a number of questions for which I could have picked multiple answers.

I am not sure of why Canadians seem to "confuse" the results so much.
posted by synecdoche at 5:47 AM on December 24, 2013


What they should really ask is: when you take someone else's rightful place in line, did you

* cut
* butt
* budge

Yes, people here in Wisconsin, including my own son, talk about "budging in line." Weird. "Bubbler," on the other hand, seems to be pretty much gone.
posted by escabeche at 5:47 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember taking a similar (if not the same) quiz like ten years ago at a Harvard website, and providing the zip code I grew up in to help them draw their maps more precisely and accurately.

Yeah, that was when they were in the data collection phase that underlies this. I remember participating in that, too, and I'm darn near certain I got drawn in here, in 2003.

Here's a thing I've been wondering whether it's a New England regionalism: I call any store where you get food "the market"...

I don't know about this. I live near Boston now, and I can't say I hear "the market" that much, but maybe. "The store" is common. However, I would be interested to see this studied. Growing up mostly in NJ, we called it "the grocery store" or "the grocery" (the place where you push a "grocery cart," not a "shopping cart," "buggy," or, dear God, a "carriage," which people say here and which cracks me up for sounding Victorian). I never called anything the "supermarket," that's just what they have on the sign - it's more of a category of grocery store. One holdover I have from NJ/NY days is calling all neighborhood convenience stores "bodegas," even though in my neck of the woods here they have nothing to do with any Spanish-speaking population. From an old-timer in Southern NH, I learned that people used to call those mom-and-pop corner stores "cookie stores," because they always had a big Uneeda Biscuit or Nabisco bulk cookie rack right inside the door.

Seriously, only Philly + suburbs use that?

I think I originally learned through this survey that not only do Philly and suburbs, but also NY/NJ thank you very much, not only use that, but are the only places that even observe it, outside pockets in the Midwest. Occasionally I'll bring it up during a geographical conversation with new people - "what did you call the night before Halloween?" - "The night before Halloween." "What did you do?" 'worked on our costumes, planned our route..." Heh heh heh. The fact that we had Mischief Night makes me feel like I grew up in the land of the Dead End Gang. We had a curfew and everything.

By the way, if the test exclusively was about phonology, then it would be meaningful for non-American — Canadians would be more likely to be placed more near where they actually live

I don't think so, and perhaps one of the linguists can comment, but the reason this doesn't work is that language/dialect don't fade like color, gently from one into another. Language exists in odd pockets and moves around in complicated ways - along with populations. So, as you noted, there are a lot of Southern California-isms that come directly from OK and the TX panhandle and AR, which came along with war production in the 30s/40s. Similarly, there's an area in NJ where a big TX population moved for manufacturing work in the 30s, and an accent held over from that. WI/MN accents don't fade out gently but stop cold up against Montana and Chicago accents. This is something that I think helps to make the differences really fascinating - they're differences in culture, determined by historical events that have sometimes become invisible.
posted by Miko at 5:47 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those people who picked "fox's wedding," as "tiger's wedding" was not one of the options. I'm not from the U.S., English is not my first language, and I have lived in the Washington, DC area among other places. And the quiz gave me Washington, DC, New York, and New Jersey, which happen to be areas with immigrant communities who would be aware of the "fox's wedding" usage.
posted by needled at 5:48 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


people here in Wisconsin, including my own son, talk about "budging in line."

Oh yeah! When I was a teacher in Philly, the kids said that. It still sounds bizarre to my ears.

W/r/t "line," I also only learned late in my adult life that another New Jerseyism is "on line." Apparently most other regions refer to this as being "in line," and mainly just NJans say they are waiting "on line." I learned this first when I was doing something or other up in NH, and said to my companion, "let's get on line," and the woman in front of us turned and said "What part of New Jersey are you from?"

(Which is the other big NJ marker - when someone says they're from NJ, the question you must next ask them is "what part?")
posted by Miko at 5:50 AM on December 24, 2013


I'm Canadian. Guess Seattle, Tacoma and Buffalo were as close as they could get.
posted by carolr at 5:50 AM on December 24, 2013


It correctly got the two cities I've lived my adult life, which aren't too far from where I grew up. Seeing as I grew up in Vermont, I'm not entirely sure what would qualify as a city that's really any closer than Boston anyhow.

The third was... well, I got Boston, Providence, and... Fresno.

Not a damn clue what that's about, but it does explain the number of Europeans (usually Brits) who have asked me if I'm from California based on my accent.
posted by sonika at 6:00 AM on December 24, 2013


Though "cabbage night" seems to light up Vermont on the map. Seriously - any VTers get anything closer than Worcester or Springfield, MA?

(And if you really wanted to nail down the greater Boston area, just put in a question about a "packie." )
posted by sonika at 6:21 AM on December 24, 2013


I've taken this multiple times and it always knows I'm from Philly. And it never even asks me how I pronounce water!
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:25 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


It pegged me as North Jersey which I find patently offensive. I am from South Jersey, thankyouverymuch. However, I am curious what regionalisms distinguish the two.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:28 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It understandably seems to work less well for those of us who have moved around a lot than for someone who grew up in one place. It was interesting watching each question's heat map shift to another part of the country where I had lived at some point -- each move seems to have left linguistic traces.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:32 AM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The previous non-NYT one got me dead right, but this one seems to have the weighting off. The first round wasn't too bad, it thought I was a lot further northeast than I really grew up, but there was at least a cluster around Northern Virginia. The second round thought was from *Mesa*, an I never been, much less lived. It seems to be giving too much weight to individual outlier answers -- on the first one it was sunshowers, which I picked up from somewhere even though it's not typical NoVa, the second it was the question about drivethrough liquor stores. I answered yes to 'in my area, but no name', because I was answering as if I was still in NoVA and Maryland does indeed have them, which I count as my area.
posted by tavella at 6:32 AM on December 24, 2013


Ah, second time around I got the sandwich question and it got me between Philadelphia and Newark. Hoagies!
posted by backseatpilot at 6:32 AM on December 24, 2013


It says I'm from where I'm from, which it could have gotten from my IP address. But nice job, nonetheless.
posted by tommasz at 6:39 AM on December 24, 2013


It said New England for me. Which is weird. I'm from Wisconsin, though I live in New York City now. I mean, I still say bubbler and everything! Was it "sub"? I still can't get myself to say "hero". Why? Because it's a sub. Little things like this are what keep me from being a true New Yorker, even after all these years.

I've only been up to New England once, to go to Boston for a visit, and I have no antecedents up there that I know of who would have passed down their ways of speaking, so I don't get it. To be honest, though I've never used "y'all" in speech, I was expecting something more Southern, since that's my family's heritage.
posted by droplet at 6:41 AM on December 24, 2013


It's interesting to see the difference between the speech you're familiar with and the speech that's really ingrained. I spent a big chunk of my childhood in Texas, yet if I answer honestly - as in, what's really the first word I would choose if speaking without being very aware of my word choice - I am correctly pegged as using language from Central/Northern NJ/NY. I can still speak Texan, but it's not honestly the first set of words that occurs to me any more.

It makes me wonder what the age window is that cements the "right" word choice in your mind, because it must be older than I might have guessed. And now that I've lived in New England for nearly 20 years, I've adopted a lot of localisms just to avoid geographical conversations, but they really aren't the words I use in my head and would feel more natural - they're a conscious bid to blend into the regional culture. That's why, for instance, I just say "rotary" and, when I lived in CT, "grinder" and things like that - easier to just say it than to have a long discussion about who-calls-it-what-and-why when you're really focused on something else.
posted by Miko at 6:46 AM on December 24, 2013


I'm bummed that this quiz went huge; Mary/Merry/Marry was my favorite bar trick for IDing where people were from. Now everybody knows the score.
posted by nev at 6:47 AM on December 24, 2013


Pegged me as Baltimore, DC, or Rochester. Since I grew up 10 miles from DC, and my mom's from upstate NY, I'm 100% convinced that this test is perfectly correct.

Of course, this means that Elsa is actually from YONKERS.
posted by hanov3r at 6:51 AM on December 24, 2013


No Christmas this year. I have to read MeFites talking about this quiz thing, y'see.

It's better this way.
posted by allthinky at 7:09 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know why I can't get the good questions you guys are referencing. I took the stupid test four or five times, and I never once got asked what to call a knife-throwing game or a body drained of blood.

No one I know ever says the "devil beating his wife" thing, but I think I picked it up in a book as a kid and somehow confused it with the moon being visible while the sun is still up. Glad to know I've been doing/thinking it wrong all these years.
posted by nobejen at 7:10 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It thinks I'm from Tallahassee, Jacksonville, or Durham. Also a big chunk of New England is highlighted, and a chunk of Colorado, and bits of Texas.

I'm from Bradenton, which is right across from Tampa. It is definitely a different culture than either Tallahassee or Jacksonville -- less southern, more Midwestern-ish.

Also these surveys tend to show up every few months and they are always, always wrong about what people call soda/soft drinks/etc. in places where I live.
posted by Foosnark at 7:12 AM on December 24, 2013


If you're from New Orleans it can totally peg you, there are several things that show up as intense hot-spots on that city and that city only. I grew up there and it guessed New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Dallas, in rapidly-descending order of confidence. Physically it's in the South, but culturally and linguistically it's its own thing, with a local accent that resembles nothing more than Boston.

I've noticed in recent years that I do some code-switching. When I'm visiting home the grassy strip down the center of a street is the "neutral ground", anywhere else it's a "median" because otherwise nobody understands what I'm talking about. I answered the questions as if I were in NO, I wonder what it would select if I answered like I was in Seattle where I live right now...
posted by egypturnash at 7:13 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was particularly disappointed by the question about 'water fountains'. Us Philadelphia/South Jersey folk know that none of those answers are correct, because it is properly called a 'wooder fountain'.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:15 AM on December 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Where I live, you can hop on a train, exit it again fifteen minutes later and notice fundamental changes in phonetics, syntax and vocabulary.

Isn't that true everywhere on earth?


Well, in most of the US, there aren't any passenger trains to hop onto in the first place.
posted by andrewesque at 7:21 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


W/r/t "line," I also only learned late in my adult life that another New Jerseyism is "on line." Apparently most other regions refer to this as being "in line," and mainly just NJans say they are waiting "on line." I learned this first when I was doing something or other up in NH, and said to my companion, "let's get on line," and the woman in front of us turned and said "What part of New Jersey are you from?"

Not the southern part right outside of philly!

Seriously, lived my whole life there, and never heard that.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:21 AM on December 24, 2013


This is total BS. Roundabouts and traffic circles are different things, not the same thing called by different names.
posted by stebulus at 7:24 AM on December 24, 2013


W/r/t "line," I also only learned late in my adult life that another New Jerseyism is "on line."
I think this is a tri-state area thing (I'm from LI). Here in the Midwest I can manage "on the line" to avoid confusion but I can't bring myself to say "in line".

(Which is the other big NJ marker - when someone says they're from NJ, the question you must next ask them is "what part?")
Also a big thing when you say NY. Just saying NY doesn't really mean anything. (It's the Empire state for a reason..)
posted by bleep at 7:29 AM on December 24, 2013


I think the "on line" thing is a New York City-ism (my friend from Queens says it) so it makes sense that it would be found in the northern half of NJ but not the southern part near Philly. On preview: bleep has it.
posted by andrewesque at 7:30 AM on December 24, 2013


(Which is the other big NJ marker - when someone says they're from NJ, the question you must next ask them is "what part?")

Wait, I thought I was supposed to ask "Which exit?"
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:32 AM on December 24, 2013


This is patently false, as no one in southern California has the good taste to use "hella" as an emphasis word.

Indeed. Unless you've been to NoCal a time or two and are trying to put on airs.

As a military brat with family from all over, who has lived in SoCal for 25+ years, it did a serviceable job on mine, though it did look like a blood splatter diagram and took forever.

We have places here where you can drive through and buy beer (not hard liquor I don't think), but they're drive-thru dairies. Like mini convenience stores. If you're buying beer, you have to get out of the car, and they have to put it in a bag.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:37 AM on December 24, 2013


I've lived all over, but amazingly, it got my current location exactly (Oakland) rather than where I grew up. Wonder why.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:37 AM on December 24, 2013


It was incredibly accurate for me: Fort Worth, Irving, and Arlington, Texas. I grew up about an hour north of there and currently live in Arlington. It must be the coke as a carbonated beverage and ya'll for groups of 2 or more people.

Interestingly, neither of my parents are from Texas (Indiana and California). I never sounded like I was from Texas until I met my husband, whose extremely strong Texas/country accent rubbed off rather quickly (although born and raised in Texas, his results were in Georgia/Alabama).
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:24 AM on December 24, 2013


It says I am from Modesto, Stockton, or Fresno. I have cousins in Fresno, we are the second generation out of the dust bowl. But nah I am not from there. I live states away. Being even an old military brat means you are from everywhere, and raised among people who are from everywhere. Pill bug, sow bug, potato bug, I have called that bug three different names over time. When the sun shines while it is raining, they said, "The devil is beating his wife," in the south, but surely that biznatch has shot him by now. Maybe I should move to Fresno, since the way I speak might be an indicator of where I would be happiest.
posted by Oyéah at 8:28 AM on December 24, 2013


And congratulations you have just helped test yet another means to covertly analyze data about American citizens, and their birth locations by speech evaluation.
posted by Oyéah at 8:29 AM on December 24, 2013


Well, not to your face...that wouldn't be Minnesota nice...or would it?

"Well, that's different."
posted by gimonca at 8:58 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except liquor stores which are packy stores (package stores). Thus, "makin' a packy run, you want anything?"

Woah. This changes things. "Packy" being homophonic with "paki", I thought UK racist terms made it overseas when I heard "packy store" in the US. So, uh, good to know that Boston's not just being casually racist in their description of liquor stores.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:00 AM on December 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


And congratulations you have just helped test yet another means to covertly analyze data about American citizens, and their birth locations by speech evaluation.

There was nothing covert about this test, which people willfully and knowingly participated in.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:14 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh look, I'm from somewhere in the northern tier of the US. Must be due to nomad smear.

that wouldn't be Minnesota nice

"Minnesota nice", as its called, is something that Seattle has pretty much nailed. And much of North Dakota. It skips Idaho and Montana, though, which I'm guessing has something to do with erosion caused by the Megafloods in that area 13,000 years ago. Anyway - seems unfair for Minisoda to take all the credit.
posted by Twang at 9:16 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was all, haha, you'll never guess, since my mom is from one state, my dad is from a different state, and I lived in nine different states growing up/early adulthood in the US and now live on a different continent... but hell's bells, they got me, nailing the place I lived the longest in the US: N'Awlins, y'all.

Ha, it's probably the Greek influence. I got New Orleans too (and DC and Providence, so yeah).
posted by ersatz at 9:18 AM on December 24, 2013


Wait, I thought I was supposed to ask "Which exit?"

You would only ask that if you knew basically nothing about NJ.

It's true, "on line" is more Central/North than Southern NJ, but then Southern NJ has different things entirely going on. These are the reasons we always have to ask "what part?"
posted by Miko at 9:43 AM on December 24, 2013


This quiz confirmed for me what I already knew in my heart: I am a Great Lakes girl through and through. It pegged me as Rochester (college in Ithaca), Buffalo (born and raised), and Grand Rapids (I dunno) but also had Chicago area (been here 12 years) pretty dark red. I lived in Texas for 5 years but I guess I escaped unscathed.
posted by misskaz at 9:49 AM on December 24, 2013


I feel like I should go to some kind of speech therapy to a get rid of those language tics that apparently still peg me as being from North Jersey. I haven't lived in that state since before half of the people here on Metafilter were born but it still sticks with me like some phantom.
posted by octothorpe at 10:14 AM on December 24, 2013


Oddly enough, it was mere days ago that I asked The Fella "Hey, do you know the name for that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street? Not the median, not between the roads. The narrow one parallel to the sidewalk." Neither of us knew of any such name.

In Chicago, it's known as the parkway, and the city will put a tree in it for you, free of charge!
posted by hwyengr at 10:17 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm in southwestern Ontario, and I got Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Honolulu. I guess it's unsurprising it didn't get close, because when I go to the closest states (Michigan, and New York) I notice that the dialects spoken there are noticeably different.
posted by Harpocrates at 10:38 AM on December 24, 2013


Lotsa South Jersey folks here. I'm on my way home there for Christmas; I'll be sure to stop at a Wawa or maybe for some frozen custard after our traditional holiday hoagie, and maybe do some laps around the 70/73 circle before bed.
posted by nev at 10:44 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Born and raised in Alaska, homeschooled in the bush. Meaning I suppose virtually no extra-family linguistic influences early on. Moved to California in my teens, then lived in NYC, Philly, and points further afield. It pegged me as upstate New York, which is basically where my mother is from.

Reading through the thread, I was struck by how many people whom the test missed, got pegged to where their mom was from. None or almost none to where their father was from (Philly in my dad's case, although having lived there, I can say that he has no detectable Philly accent).

I guess anecdotally at least it seems like mothers are more important in establishing linguistic starting points than fathers.
posted by jackbrown at 10:47 AM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, not to your face...that wouldn't be Minnesota nice...or would it?

"Well, that's different."


Could anybody here borrow me $5?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:59 AM on December 24, 2013


It did also peg where my mom was from in my results.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 11:06 AM on December 24, 2013


RobotHero: The Southern Ontario accent and the generic California accent are famously similar.

But I'm not from Southern Ontario, I'm from Manitoba.

Maybe the Canadian version of this would have, "What do you call a doughnut with jam in it?" "How many syllables does 'Toronto' have?" "Are 'boy' and 'bye' pronounced the same or different?"
posted by RobotHero at 11:06 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except liquor stores which are packy stores (package stores). Thus, "makin' a packy run, you want anything?"

Woah. This changes things. "Packy" being homophonic with "paki", I thought UK racist terms made it overseas when I heard "packy store" in the US. So, uh, good to know that Boston's not just being casually racist in their description of liquor stores.

Package stores are the equivalent of Off License stores, meaning liquor is sold in a package to be consumed off the premises. It varies state by state but in general the term was tied to the repeal of Prohibition and the desire to not have so many saloons. Also, I think they would put it in brown paper packages to conceal the fact that they were buying liquor but not sure if that's true or just a story.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:09 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, I still say bubbler and everything!

The other area of the country that says this is Rhode Island. I had never heard it before moving to Providence, but it is indeed the local parlance. So, yeah, weirdly that could be what pegged you as a New Englander.
posted by sonika at 11:09 AM on December 24, 2013


When I moved to Chicago I thought "packaged goods" was one of the many delightful anachronisms around here. And you have to pronounce all the syllables. Packag-ed goooooods. Goods in packages, doncha know, whatever will they think of next! Good heavens!
In NY it's just a liquor store. You know, a place where they sell liquor! Unlike liquor-free bodegas.
posted by bleep at 11:21 AM on December 24, 2013


I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but I call it a "fox's wedding" because I was a pretentious kid who saw Akira Kurosawa's Dreams as a teen and I say "y'all" because it's incredibly stupid that English doesn't have a plural "you". That places me in the bizarre grouping of Rockford, Illinois; Aurora, Illinois; and Jackson, Mississippi.
posted by eamondaly at 11:39 AM on December 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dude, there is a plural you in the English language. It's you. But most people feel the need to be clearer. Personally, I go with "you guys" because I liked The Electric Company when I was a kid.

Grew up in SC, moved to NYC at the age of eleven, lived in DE for 7 years before spending the last 13 years in the Pacific Northwest. This quiz tells me I'm from Reno, Springfield (IL), or Northern California, none of which I've ever been within 500 miles of. Or Jackson, MS if I get the question to which the only answer is the Devil's beating his wife -- never been there either.

Also, I leaned a while back that "verge" was a name for the strip of grass between the curb and the sidewalk, and I thought that was so cool I started using it though I lived in Seattle at the time and it was well-known that that was the planting strip.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:46 AM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It pegged me as North Jersey which I find patently offensive. I am from South Jersey, thankyouverymuch. However, I am curious what regionalisms distinguish the two.

This came up (as it will, amongst a bunch of chatty nerds) when I was at Governor's School, and we decided the clearest markers were whether "Trenton" has an internal "t" (no=South Jersey, yes=North) and whether "Newark" has more than one syllable (no=North Jersey, yes=South).
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:35 PM on December 24, 2013


Migration patterns obviously affect speech.

I'm from the shores of Lake Erie, where EVERYONE knew the strip of grass between the sidewalk and road was called a tree lawn. When I say it here in New York, people look blank and when I explain and ask what they call it, they say, the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road. My parents were from New England, so I carry a certain amount of that pronunciation with me, and my corner of Ohio, which had a certain New England influx, often shows a northern/NE influence. We don't, for example, say greazy for greasy, or a something akin to "ruff" for roof. After moving to the East Coast, I adapted to saying soda instead of pop, and rotary for traffic circle, so that's definltely influenced the test, which puts my speech in Springfield, Mass. and Providence, R.I.
posted by etaoin at 12:36 PM on December 24, 2013


I have spent most of my life trying to train myself to pronounce "water" like it's spelled and not "wuder" but I still can't do it. That stuff is just hard-wired.
posted by octothorpe at 12:37 PM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


And what about "basement" vs "cellar"? Are they different things or are they different ways to refer to the same thing?

I often read the kids at our school Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel, and when I get to the page in the story Very Tall Mouse and Very Short Mouse where Very Tall Mouse says "Hello roof! and Very Short Mouse says "Hello cellar!" I always give the child an aside of "A cellar is like a basement." (which I see is probably technically inaccurate, but it forestalls any confusion).
posted by blueberry at 1:35 PM on December 24, 2013


The only time in Portland (Oregon) I've heard "bubbler" for a drinking fountain is from people knowledgable about the ornate brass drinking fountains gifted to the city by Simon Benson--"Benson Bubblers" they are called officially. Simon Benson was born in Norway, immigrated to New York City, then moved to Wisconsin, before making his way here to Portland. I can't see Mr. Benson naming them after himself, but guess that more likely they were named in his honor by someone on a committee who happened to be from back-East, and/or someone keen on alliteration.
posted by blueberry at 1:53 PM on December 24, 2013


Of course we don't have an accent here in Seattle but I worked with an Englishman who gave me much grief for calling the appliance that provides you with warm showers a "wahdr heedr", not a "wotah heetah". The test gave me Seattle, Portland and Spokane.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:02 PM on December 24, 2013


Hit the nail on the head with Coastal NJ.
posted by Renoroc at 2:03 PM on December 24, 2013


Pretty solidly Boston, which amuses me since I have the rhotic version of that accent, although I've noticed that I drop many more 'r's than I remember doing in the past. Apparently Miami and Seattle have about the exact same accent, because it keeps putting me in Miami also despite Seattle being as strong a contender according to the heat map (and Seattle is where I have lived for the last ten years).

Yeah, the "packie / packy" thing can trip up ex-pats and people familiar with that particular epithet. It is genuinely harmless, though; see also "statie" (state troopah), "southie" (South Boston or person from South Boston), "shiesty / shysty" (of or relating to a shyster; shady, dubious, unethical), and "townie" (alternatively, a person from a small town who never leaves, or a local in an area filled with transplants, such as a college town), to list just a few. What's interesting about reading "going to the packie" as a slur or reference to slur is that it requires an additional cognitive element, the stereotype of Desi-owned convenience and liquor stores. I'm not calling anyone racist for reading it that way, to be clear, I just think it's interesting how those three ideas end up colliding.

The idea that "Mary" and "marry" aren't pronounced the same is doing my head in. I don't understand how you wouldn't pronounce those the same way. Do you guys also pronounce "Cary" and "carry" differently?
posted by Errant at 2:04 PM on December 24, 2013


Oh man, I forgot one of my favorites, "u-ie", for a u-turn. Also, you make a u-ie when planning directions in advance, but you bang a u-ie if it's spontaneous or sudden.

When I tell people in Seattle, "oh, we passed it, well, just bang a u-ie at the next light", they look at me like I am suggesting that they proposition a prostitute.
posted by Errant at 2:16 PM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


You pull a uie in Tampa, spontaneous or planned. It's a perfectly cromulent direction.
posted by cmyk at 2:19 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and it's called SODA, by the way. If you call it "pop" you need to go learn how to speak proper American English. "Tonic" is right out.

It put me in Stockton, Modesto, or Reno. I'm in Tucson. If they had thrown in some Spanish language questions, they probably could have pinned me down to the nearest intersection.
posted by azpenguin at 2:32 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok but do you pronounce it as you-wee or Huey, or are those two things themselves pronounced the same?
posted by elizardbits at 2:32 PM on December 24, 2013


Also, if you are making a left, you hang a Louie.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:37 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I pronounce the "h" in "Huey" and do not pronounce the nonexistent "h" in "u-ie".

That Boston accent thread lunasol linked earlier contained a link to a vocabulary of Boston English words and terms, which is giving me pleasant nostalgias. I'm going to be hanging out later with my best friend from home, who also lives here now, and I imagine we'll drag out a few of these and bother the Michigander bartender.
posted by Errant at 2:44 PM on December 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


You-wee like a direction to a small child or a drunk, not Huey like the helicopter.
posted by cmyk at 3:40 PM on December 24, 2013


I wonder when Harvard will add the "How do you pronounce the G in GIF?" question, with answers "like a) the G in GIRAFFE b) the G in GIFT c) I only use PNG and JPG files".
posted by hanov3r at 3:46 PM on December 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The other area of the country that says this is Rhode Island. I had never heard it before moving to Providence, but it is indeed the local parlance. So, yeah, weirdly that could be what pegged you as a New Englander.

This is actually generally New English, or at least extends as far as Mass. We called it the bubbler when I was growing up in the Boston suburbs.
posted by threeants at 4:00 PM on December 24, 2013


It was fairly accurate with a Baltimore, DC, and Winston-Salem prediction for me, wherein Winston-Salem probably accounts for the faded bits of Georgia low country I picked up from my dad.

I always sort of wonder about my "on," which sets my Tejana Texan sister-in-law giggling whenever my brother and I are tired enough that we pronounce it in our strangulated Baltimore-region way instead of intoning her flat "ahn." Pretty much everyone else from the rest of the world finds my Baltimore-derived "ambulance" to be about the funniest thing ever, which seems silly, since it's just how it's spelled, for pete's sake.

I have provided a helpful Vine sample of these two words. You may need to wait, and to click the speaker thingie to turn the sound on.

In the interest of festivity, I have selected a distinctive hat for the video.
posted by sonascope at 4:10 PM on December 24, 2013


"Of course we don't have an accent here in Seattle" -- Nonsense. Everyone has an accent. Believe me, there are things that peg you as a Seattleite. (When I lived briefly in Minneapolis, more than one person asked me where I was from and commented on my accent -- and I'm a native Seattleite! To them, I had an accent. Meanwhile, to my ears everyone in Mpls sounded Canadian.) There are even things that set Seattleites apart from Portlanders.

"When I tell people in Seattle, oh, we passed it, well, just bang a u-ie at the next light', they look at me like I am suggesting that they proposition a prostitute."

I've heard "Bang a u-ie" before, and it would be understood in my social group, at least. However, "hang a u-ie" is the more common Seattle usage IME.
posted by litlnemo at 4:13 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is actually generally New English, or at least extends as far as Mass. We called it the bubbler when I was growing up in the Boston suburbs.

It goes to the burbs, but rarely heard in Boston proper and certainly no further west or north. It's a "water fountain" where I was in college in Amherst as well as where I grew up in Vermont.
posted by sonika at 5:39 PM on December 24, 2013


Top three: New York City, Yonkers, and Newark/Patterson, respectively. It's like this quiz is saying "you're from New York, and you can't hide it no matter how hard you try."
posted by breakin' the law at 9:50 PM on December 24, 2013


Also a big thing when you say NY. Just saying NY doesn't really mean anything. (It's the Empire state for a reason..)

Oh, yeah. Whenever I travel out of state and people ask where I'm from, I can't just say,"New York" the way a person from another state might say, "Indiana" or "Texas," or they'll assume I mean New York City. I was in a hospital in West Virginia for two weeks after emergency surgery once, and nurses kept saying, "So, I hear y'all are from New York City?" or, "Are you the lady from New York City?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:02 PM on December 24, 2013


Hahahaha I got Boston, Worchester, and Providence hahahaha

I am a lizard person who hates the cold, says drinking fountain, and spent two decades growing up in DC

I am a cipher! Take that, quiz!
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:41 AM on December 25, 2013


Co-Coler
posted by thelonius at 3:52 AM on December 26, 2013


"Roly-poly" from a Midwestern childhood screwed up all the bi-coastal living (mid-Atlantic up to NJ/NY/CT then Bay Area up to PNW).

"bubbler" is just frightening! And it's "whip a u-ie."
posted by honey badger at 12:15 PM on December 26, 2013


I had my grandma fill this out, outloud, and I would enter in the answers to my phone. For the drive thru liquor store question, she answered "Baptist window", which got a lot of laughter. Why a Baptist window? Because they don't like going in those places...

She is from Arkansas, FWIW.
posted by jilloftrades at 4:15 PM on January 1, 2014 [9 favorites]


Finally got my girlfriend to sit down and take it and about halfway through the quiz said, "I get it, you're from New Orleans - can we stop now, or do you want to go ahead and finish the whole thing, or ...?"
posted by komara at 5:38 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, New Orleans has a few very conspicuous linguistic tells. To the extent that I actually think a lot of them are no longer really said in a naturalistic way, and people will give them as answers because they know it's what they're supposed to say.

For example I had trouble with the sandwich question. As a general term, I call sandwiches on long rolls with lots of ingredients subs. A po'boy is a very specific type of sub, typically one made with crusty New Orleans French bread and stuffed with either fried seafood or hot roast beef. Similarly, in the New York metro area, certain types of long-roll sandwiches are heroes, especially anything Italian, and definitely anything with hot Italian-American contents. So you can have a soft-shell crab po'boy or a chicken parm hero, and those are specific types of sandwiches. Something from Subway or Quizno's is a sub, though.

But I just answered po'boy, because I knew I was supposed to rep New Orleans and say po'boy. Even though I would never call a sandwich on a soft Italian loaf stuffed with meatballs, tomato sauce, and provolone a po'boy.
posted by Sara C. at 6:17 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree that there were certain items clearly supposed to mark New Orleans, like the answers "neutral ground" and "poor boy" (which, by the way, she marked as "I don't have a word for that" saying, "What the hell are 'cold cuts' anyway? No one makes a po-boy from luncheon meat.").

But there were a few other weird ones where the answer would show an entire United States of Blue with one little hotspot centered around New Orleans, stuff I never could have guessed. Like when she clicked:

"Mary and merry are pronounced the same, but marry is pronounced differently"

and that shining orange oasis popped up centered on New Orleans I just couldn't believe it. I think my exact words were, "You've got to be kidding me."
posted by komara at 10:45 PM on January 3, 2014


I don't know, I'm from within 50 miles of New Orleans (and was born there and lived there for most of my formative language acquisition years) and I say all three the same. There are a few different New Orleans accents, though, and I think pronunciation stuff strongly depends on how deep your New Orleans roots run, where specifically within the city you grew up, and probably ethnic/religious/race/class lines as well.

Also my brothers and I are evenly divided between roly poly and doodle bug, and we grew up in the same house.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 PM on January 3, 2014


I think you might find a split between roly-poly and pill bug in my family. What you would not find is anyone calling it a potato bug. These are potato bugs, and (as my mother's family had a potato farm) they are a vile scourge upon the earth and nothing like cute little pill bugs.
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:46 AM on January 4, 2014


Trivial anecdote: I actually have a clear memory of my first encounter with roly-polies, or at least when I was first told what they were called. I was four or five years old and playing in the grass and wet dirt next to the concrete of the front step of the little rental house we lived in. It was painted green. We had just recently moved out of the university's married students housing and I weirdly have many more clear memories of those apartments than I do of that little house...

...there was a cotton field next door to the apartments, which was interesting! The steam-heating pipes along the floorboards were a magical device by which I could insert stripped crayons into the top and pretty molten colors would come out the bottom! The entryway between the kitchen and the living room had a curtain of hanging beads across it because this was 1969, man! I tried to sign up for a baton twirling class and they wouldn't let me join because I was a boy! I ran away from home with a suitcase filled only with my prized possessions, my books! I got my first bike and my dad placed me on the seat, ran three steps alongside holding it, and then let go and went inside, lesson over! I had a lite-brite!...

Yeah. Don't remember much about that little house except for jumping on the couch one day and falling off and hitting my head on the corner of the coffee-table and earning a scar that's still slightly visible.

Anyway, I can see clearly in my mind's eye about five or six roly-polies that I was playing with and I'd touch one and it'd turn into a ball, which was very cool, and I showed my dad and he told me it was called a roly-poly.

I was a teenager before I saw my first firefly. We didn't have those where I grew up. We had tarantula's, though. BIG ones. Big, hairy tarantulas crawling across the porch.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:05 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mom tells a story of accidentally breaking a big Mason jar over her cousin's head catching lightning bugs.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:29 PM on January 5, 2014


Ivan Fyodorovich, that is beautiful, and also hilarious because I always imagined you growing up in Minsk.
posted by Sara C. at 8:07 PM on January 5, 2014




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