Where you’re from shapes how you talk

dialect

This is where The New York Times thinks I live, based on the results of a a quiz I took that asked me how I pronounced some words and used some terms. They got my region pegged. Several of my family members who live in the same area  said their quiz results were the same, or nearly the same as mine (in the photo above). I took the quiz a second time, this time choosing another variation of how I might say something, and this time it placed me in Rockford, Grand Rapids, or Buffalo. It’s Rockford both times.

Now, I have lived most of my life in a region where the nearest movie theaters were in Rockford. My parents grew up here, too. But my mom’s mom grew up in northwestern Wisconsin, and my dad’s parents were children of German immigrants, and so I wonder how much of my language is that of my parents, and how much is from my peers.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this list of options:

dialect_foxweddingI love the poetic qualities here — fox’s wedding, liquid son — but what American variant picks the devil is beating his wife to describe a meteorological phenomenon? I guess this one.

2 responses to “Where you’re from shapes how you talk

  1. The test was a little frustrating for me because for several questions I use multiple terms! I wish it would have let me pick more than one!

    • I felt that way, too, and so I did make some alternate picks the second time I took the test — and the test still correctly picked Rockford. I think the quiz judges some choices as more influential than others, perhaps.

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