I was going through my drafts folder and came across this post that I had started to write a few months ago, but for some reason forgot about and never published. It’s completely random — dialect quiz maps, generated by online surveys that produce heat maps of which parts of the U.S. your individual way of speaking is most and least similar to, taken by both me and Joe.
It all started one evening after Lillian’s bedtime, during our nightly routine of wasting a bunch of time on the internet instead of doing something productive and meaningful, when Joe sent me a link to this dialect survey from a researcher at NC State University. Unfortunately that one seems to have closed since we took it, but the New York Times offers this similar one which (as of this writing) is still available. We both took both of them, and it was fun to compare the results, since I’m native to the Chicago area while Joe is originally from Pensacola Florida.
So with no further ado, on to the maps! This first one is mine, from the first survey:
And here’s Joe’s map, from that same survey:
You can tell just from looking at them which of us is originally from the south, right? Although it’s interesting how his map has the hotspot on Chicago as well as the southern states — maybe all the years of living up here have had an influence.
The maps from the second survey looked a bit different, and offered a bit more detail in terms of plotting which specific cities you were most similar to, but painted a similar picture overall. Here is my map from the second survey:
And here is Joe’s map from the second survey:
Not surprisingly, my most similar cities were centered right around Chicago, while Joe’s were deep in the south — I’ve been told that Pensacola is in many ways more similar to Alabama than to the rest of Florida, so having Montgomery as one of his most similar cities makes a lot of sense. Although we were a little curious about that hotspot in Colorado on mine, and in New York on Joe’s.
For how dramatically different our maps are, though, differences in the way we pronounce things or use expressions is something I hardly even notice on a day-to-day basis. Some of this may be due to the familiarity of living with and talking to the same person every day for years, though I think it’s mainly that despite some notable differences (like “y’all” instead of “you guys”), just by being an English speaker in the United States there’s bound to be way more similar than different.
Have you ever tried taking one of these dialect quizzes? Did your map reveal anything unexpected, or highlight any fun mismatches between you and a spouse or significant other? Feel free to share in the comments!