Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quiz Knows

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland

The Northeast

The South


North Central

The West


What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Matt sent me this little quiz in response to the ongoing "Kerry" vs. "Carrie" debate ("Talking the Tawk"). (They're pronounced identically, by the way.)

I'm a little perplexed by my results. "Inland North" isn't really a region of the United States I'm familiar with, but if I were going to guess what it means then I'd say it included North Dakota (why not Minot?) -- and must also mean Minnesota/Wisconsin/Michigan (the latter three of which I consider part of the Midwest). So I guess using that logic it's impressive that the test picked up on my being a Michigan native, although a Fargo or Minnesota accent is completely different than a Michigan accent. And that said, neither of my parents were born-and-raised Michiganders (Dad's from Pottsville, Pa., and Mom was born in Detroit, but grew up in Omaha, Neb.), so I never had the true Michigan accent that my friends sure had anyway -- and I moved to Arizona when I was 11, further distancing myself from the Land of Pop. I've called it soda for 30 years now and no one has ever met me and asked me if I was from Michigan. If fact, a few years ago I was at a party near my old hometown and when I tried to tell people that I was a from there they thought I was kidding and told me they didn't believe me. (If anything, I get accused of growing up in the San Fernando Valley, but that's an entirely different problem story.)

Secondly, about the "you may think you speak 'Standard English straight out of the dictionary' but ..." thing across the top of my results. Does that come up on all regions, or is it implying that, say, Southerners speak "correctly" or Bostonians speak "correctly" whereas Inland North people don't? I ask because the bias of whoever wrote the quiz is obviously an issue here (I'm guessing it wasn't a New Yorker since that's not even one of the choices -- or are not all of them showing up on the bar graph?). Also, I can still recall Indiana-born Jane Pauley famously saying that having the perfect Middle America accent was essential for making it in television broadcasting, which raises the question why would this be if it sounds so "regional"?

On a related note, and I ask this without saying I have a "right" or "wrong" answer to it: where do we draw the lines of different regions of the country anyway? A friend of ours is from Oklahoma and to me I've always considered it Southern-ish. I asked him where he considers himself from and he said the Midwest. Looking at a map, of course, he would tend to be right. But I'm from Michigan and everyone I knew called Michigan, Illinois and Indiana (et al.) the quintessential Midwestern states. (They're nowhere near and nothing like Oklahoma!) Other people -- mostly Northeasterners -- will go so far as to lump Colorado(!) into the Midwest. Then you refer to your map and you can see why people who are not from there would see it as being Midwesterner, geographically if nothing else. (I remember working for a news agency that counted West Virginia as part of the Northeast on its computer codes -- and thinking how hilarious it was; but if you look at a map I guess it's no different from calling Colorado the Midwest and is there an obvious other place to put it? The South, maybe?)

I guess it all depends on how many regions you're counting to begin with before you can start placing things, but I certainly have never thought of dividing the nation into the Midland, the Northeast, the South, Philadelphia, North Central, the West and Boston! This quiz knows nothing ...

(NOTE: The bar graph results do not seem to show up on Firefox.)


Bill said...

As Kenny's brother you'd think my accent would be the same, but I get Midland, with secondary bars reaching about three-quarters of the way across for Philadelphia and Inland North (equally) and the South (almost as much as the other two) followed by Northeast, West, Boston and North Central.

My personal geography is pretty close to Kenneth's aside from his time in California.

I've taken this quiz before, and I'm guessing that my answer on "on" rhyming with "dawn" rather than "don" is the major difference. I just don't think I say AAAAHHHHHN rather than something closer to AWNNN. And it was a close call on collar/caller. I said same, but they could be a tiny bit different for me.

I can't begin to understand seeing caught and cot or dawn and don as the same, or seeing merry/Mary/marry as different.

And I am proudly from pop country.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Oh, so when the other bars show up they're a ranking of your other accent influences?

Matthew said...

I knew this would get your panties in a bundle! :0) I think Inland North is a term I wish I'd always had, because I do always hesitate when I say Midwest...Michigan really isn't Midwest geographically, but I consider it a part of what we call the Midwest.

For the quiz, the part about "you may think" also caught my eye. My thought was that they have divined that people with that accent believe more strongly than others that they are "right"...and you know, maybe that is because of the accent being mirrored on news broadcasts.

The online dictionary says carry is kar-ee, Kerry is ker-ee, ferry is fer-ee. Seriously. It says fer-ee. I've got news for you...fer-ee to me would imply it sounds like furry and ker-ee would be curry. My friends who INSIST carry/Kerry/marry/merry/Mary all have different sounds say them to me and ALL I hear on the e ones is a pronounced East Coast accent, like " John Kervy" with the "v" sound almost imperceptible (this is hard to do phonetically...but it does not sound like "curry," that's for surey.

This fairy (which by the way is unfairly listed as fair-ee...when I was a kid, the long a was shown as an a with a line over it, sheesh) is sticking with his story: ferry, Kerry, Kari, Carrie, carry, marry, Mary, merry, Larry, Jerry, Geri, Teri, Terry, tarry...they all rhyme.

Anonymous said...

I scored 100% Inland North.
Born and raised in Michigan, visited many places but have only lived here.


Anonymous said...

Well, I got Midland, which the test results said was the same as "no accent." I am actually from the Northeast - Western Massachusetts to be exact - but an area where we do not have a Boston (Bahstan) accent. I have lived in DC for nearly 20 years, and have noticed that all regional accents tend to disappear here, so I am not surprised at the result.

Anonymous said...

Having moved from Indiana to South Dakota I was surprised to find that South Dakotans considered me to be from the East, not the Midwest.

I consider my accent to be River Rat having grown up next to the Ohio.

Frank Anthony Polito said...

Here's what I got:

Your Result: The Northeast

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.

My secondary results were the same as Bill Walsh's... Does this mean the quiz is fixed?!

For me it's kind of like cheating, as I spent four years in Drama School learning "standard" speech for the stage and many of those words were ones we worked on to get rid of our "accents!"

I still think "marry" sounds like "Mary" though I know "Merry" is different (even though it's NOT in Michigan!)

And I've been saying "soda" since LONG before I ever moved to NYC!!

Tony (LT) said...

As a Southerner, I have to say Oklahoma is not the South. Not sure what it is, but it's not the South. And West Virginia became a state by sticking with the Union in the civil war, so it's definitely not the South. I'd call it Mid-Atlantic.

Steve Reed said...

I apparently have a "Midland accent," according to the quiz:

"'You have a Midland accent' is just another way of saying 'you don't have an accent.' You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio."

The interesting thing is, I'm from Florida. And I wonder what you answered differently, K., because I don't think either of us has much of an accent.

Davy said...

I got "Midland" as well, with a strong "Southern" in my #2 spot, which hits about right (strangely, my #3 is western and I've never lived or visited anywhere close to there). The quiz mentions Southern Indiana in the Midland explanation, and I grew up on the Kentucky side of the Indiana border, so it pegged me pretty good.

I've seen Kentucky referred to as both southern and midwestern, depending on where the person doing the defining was from. But Michigan isn't anything close to the midwest. To me, midwest refers to the non-border states that are west of the Mississippi, but east of the Rockies.

nojarama said...

Well darling, I also got The "Inland North" (and I'm in Southern California)! It must be the South Dakota relatives... All us Norse sound the same anyhew! I sound like a Valley Girl myself, but I guess I read like a South Dakotean? Ya know?! He-he!yexog

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I got Inland North as well -- and I have split time between Michigan (Ann Arbor) and New York City for 40 years.

Ken -- it's the Ann Arborite need to pronounce every word.

Ron in Ann Arbor

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Very interesting, guys.

So I now know the quiz DOES take the Midland (Jane Pauley) accent to be "no accent."

My co-worker who (admittedly) has a strong if not hard to peg accent (NYC by way of Minneapolis by way of Indiana) got the same results as me(!) and we compared answers and realized neither of us picked "sounds very close" -- we went one way or another (I'm guessing that factored into my having something other than the Midland -- aka "no" -- accent.

Franq: You DON'T need to tell me that you faked your answers. I've heard you after a few beers and you're straight out of Farmer Jack's (NOT the Northeast!).

Bjooks: I know I said there weren't any right or wrong answers about the regions, but Michigan IS IN THE MIDWEST by any known measure, my friend!!! (Trust me.)

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm from Jane Pauley's hometown - Indianapolis, IN - and have lived here my entire 53 years....and this quiz said I was "As Philadelphia as cheesesteak"...NOT! (Although, unlike most Midwesterners, I can pronounce "wash" correctly...

Anonymous said...

Inland North -- where we have no accent, thank you very much, and Vernor's is the best pop in town!

-- Nina, Kenny's childhood friend from Fraser, Michigan

Anonymous said...

Inland North in da house! no

-- Mark, Kenny's bff from sixth grade in Madison Heights, Mich.

Anonymous said...

It rated me as Midland, and since I'm in Ohio that fits their definition. From previous knowledge of accents though, I'm not too impressed with their categorizations. There is no dominant accent in Ohio, there are horizontal bands with several accents from north to south. People in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati have differing accents.

Regarding the term "midwest", that probably has historical roots. It is based on population density more than strict geographic location. Back when the term took root, the majority of the population was no further west than Pennsylvania, so to them the Great Lakes states were to the west. The mean center of population did not move west of Indiana until 1950, and did not get west of the Mississippi River until 1980.


Homer said...

I'm from northern Michigan originally, and I was very strongly Inland North.

Anonymous said...

I think the quiz is interesting, but not very scientific or reliable. You would need a little more data and an actually linguist to help assign a regional dialect.

That said, I scored 100% Midland, which I do agree with for the most part. But what I find highly suspect is my second place accent is 95% Southern. How is that possible? How can I have no accent and good for radio and TV, while also sounding like Boss Hogg? I don't get it?

Coinneach said...

Just to throw a spanner in the works, I am Scottish born and bred and now live in England (the "old" variety!)

I have never lived in the States.

I got North East with a heavy Philadelphia undertone!

I guess that is geographically closest to UK!

Kenneth Mac

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.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Nina's comment on Vernor's being the best ginger ale. Have lived in Dallas, TX for 15 years -- before that California for 8 and Minneapolis for 8 and from Michigan where I was born and raised. Got inland north, so glad the accent hasn't changed. : )