Thursday, December 26, 2013

What does the way you speak say about where you're from?

I often think about the hows and whys and wheres of speech. I took only one linguistics course in college, but I would have liked to take more - and not only because it taught me to finally understand how to interpret those weird-looking dictionary pronunciation guides. I just love language.

I found this dialect quiz, based on a Harvard linguistics project begun in 2002, particularly delightful. Though it missed the mark for me by a few thousand miles, it makes sense - my mother grew up in NorCal, so some of her California-isms must have rubbed off on me. (The "most distinctive answer" I gave that puts me in Santa Rosa, Fremont, or San Jose is "firefly." I've never even seen a firefly. Go figure.)

My father grew up in Montana, so that state's dialect is a nice warm red-orange for me. Greater Seattle is the dark ruby red I would expect. Apparently I would also feel at home, linguistically-speaking, in much of New York, but that could make sense because New York holds such sway over the rest of the country - we hear New Yorkers more often than we hear people from Arkansas.

Where do your words come from?

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