Wednesday, March 26, 2008

American Accents

There are lots of internet quizzes, most of which I don't take (although I did make an exception for "what kind of dog are you?")

But this one on American Accents interested me because I've always loved accents and tend to pick them up by osmosis by simply being somewhere for an hour or so.

Just ask The Prof who sent me off to a meeting of 'grad student wives' one night years and years ago and asked me where on earth I'd been when I got home because I seemed to be channeling someone from Perth!

It was sitting next to Irene, I told him. She'd grown up right outside Perth.

When I go to see my daughter in Texas, I can fall right into that accent in a matter of minutes. My sons used to roll their eyes. But then the youngest came home from Brazil and told me he totally understood. He'd started speaking English with a Brazilian accent because so many of his friends did.

Anyway, I digress. This quiz tests what sort of "American accent" you have. And I answered it the way I grew up speaking, trying to remember my 'native' pronunciations. I think it turned out reasonably reflective of the way I talk when I'm not 'influenced' by whoever I'm talking to.

Here's mine:




The "Western" doesn't surprise me at all. I did the test twice and came up with the high western count every time. The two questions which I had to look twice at reversed my Boston/South accent depending on which way I answered them. While I went with the "Boston" answers in the first instance, I realized I hadn't even acknowledged the third choice. When I did, my dad's Southern roots definitely showed.

It's an intriguing quiz. If you're American, try it and see what accent you come up with -- and let me know if you think it's accurate. And if you're not American, give it a try anyway and see who you might be if you spoke American English. And if you're English, I'd really like to know what accent this test thinks you have.

And if you're interested, there's a terrific article in Wikipedia on American accents which you might enjoy.

Keep me posted!

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17 Comments:

Blogger Kate Walker said...

Apparently I have a Northeastern accent which is wierd as I live in the North East - of the UK. I also have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and my animal is an Ocre and Gray Dolphin!

Just what I didn't need another place to crastinate like a pro. . . Santos will not be pleased

26 March, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Kate, Northeastern, eh? Well, I guess. Maybe there's a good quiz for English accents of which there are far more than American accents. I was struck, when I was in Cornwall, how much closer American accents are to Cornish accents than to the rest of English accents. The Cornish, like most Americans, understand the concept of the letter R!

26 March, 2008  
Blogger Kate Hardy said...

I came out as north-east as well. And I live smack in the middle of the east of the UK and don't have an accent. (Do I? You've met me so you tell me!) It said:

"Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak."

I'm also a literature nerd (! quel surpris... not); I'm the positive quality of friendship; and I'm the same animal as t'other Kate. (I loved the bit that said "You attract many friends because of your lovely personality, but you're sometimes pretty weird" - heh heh heh.)

You're a bad influence, you know, on people with screaming deadlines :o)

26 March, 2008  
Blogger Kate Hardy said...

PS I don't have anxiety disorder etc... but that question about medical textbooks. Tut. I'm a medical romance author. I need those textbooks for work! :o)

26 March, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Hey both you Kates, I'm not responsible for all those OTHER quizzes you keep taking! But it's nice to know you have personality disorders and are weird (sort of). But nicer still that you're both dolphins.

26 March, 2008  
Blogger lidia said...

I came out as "Northeastern." That makes sense since I grew up in New York and live in New Jersey.

26 March, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Lidia, I'm delighted to see that it seems to be accurate. It really thought it was for me, but I didn't know. Now several people I know have taken in, and most came out "Midland" -- like me, but with different amounts of various regions in their speech. Though exactly why my husband, who grew up in Florida and New England, came out with Philadelphia is a mystery! Thought he is also "midland" which, considering how he sounds, makes sense.

26 March, 2008  
Blogger Madeline said...

Hi Anne,
I don't think I need to take the test. I lived in Philadelphia for 46 years and I still have the accent. Just hearing me talk, everyone automatically knows where I'm from.

The professor has a Philadelphia accent? Lord help him. We Philadelphians talk quite a different language. Hey youse guys is just an example of some of our talk. I guess you can take the girl out of Philly but, you can't take the Philly out of the girl.

I took the quiz anyway, just to see what it said. You guessed it, Philadelphia all the way.

Mads:)

27 March, 2008  
Blogger Patricia said...

I came out Western. I grew up in the South, but I've lived in Nebraska all my adult life. My mother was from Arkansas and my dad Nebraska. I still have some southern words hanging around.

27 March, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Mads, It's interesting about the accent thing because apparently The Prof says his vowels the way you Philadelphians do. But he doesn't have the idioms. Another friend, Nancy the cat slayer, took the test and hers came out Philadelphia, too. Maybe there's a core of people who never spent any time there who come out that way due to influence of those around them. Dunno. Interesting.

Patricia, a lot of Western comes from the South, I think. I grew up in California, of a Southern father and a mom from Montana. And I've spent most of my adult life in either Iowa or Montana. I understand the difference between pin and pen, and I know they ARE different. But truthfully, when I say the words out loud, I hear only the slightest difference. When I ask my Iowa friends to say the words their "pen" comes out with a much longer E. Must be the Bostonian in them!!

27 March, 2008  
Blogger Ellen said...

Mine came out The Midland but with strong southern count. My non-accent sure sounds like an accent to a whole lot of people I know. I am a Texan with seven years of living in Mississippi as a child. I also sound more southern when talking with someone with a southern accent.

27 March, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

That's interesting, Ellen. I wonder if there is a very broad definition of "Midland" among the accents, and a narrow definition of, say, "Northeastern." As I said, mine was "Midland," too, with a strong Western count followed by Southern (no surprise) and Boston (huh?). Like you, I sound more 'southern' if I'm speaking to someone with a southern accent. I'd like to find someone from South Carolina to take this test and see how she/he comes out!

27 March, 2008  
Anonymous Carol said...

I had to laugh at this as ""North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot."

I thought the characters in Fargo did have an accent, but I am definitely Canadian.

Carol

28 March, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Hi Carol,
As I didn't get "North Central" as my accent, I didn't see how they characterized it. But if they mean the "Fargo" accent, oh yeah, that's definitely an accent! Have you seen the book, "How to Speak Minnesotan?" Great book! I can't pick up all Canadians -- just the ones who say, "eh?" at the end of sentences and "aboot" for "about" and "hoose" for "house."

Interesting quiz, though, eh?

28 March, 2008  
Blogger Natasha Oakley said...

Northeastern, too. That's the two Kates and me from England. I actually come from London. Good fun!

I must get Trish Wylie or Abby Green over here to see how it does with an Irish accent.

06 April, 2008  
Blogger Natasha Oakley said...

Ha! Trish played. (She's trying to write a book in two weeks but is so corruptible.) She's North Central.

06 April, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Natasha, TWO WEEKS????? Good grief, and I thought I had it bad. Poor Trish!

I have a bit less than half a book to write in 3 1/2 weeks. But at least it's roughed out.

So all you Brits -- so far -- are Northeastern, but the Irish (at least Trish) is North Central. Hmm. So she would fit in to Minnesota?? Good heavens.

Fun test, though, isn't it?

And congrats on the RITA nomination! Brilliant news. Fingers crossed for you.

06 April, 2008  

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