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Pajamas, pop and caramel: Dialect fun for the holiday week

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

For lifelong Western New Yorkers, we take an inordinate amount of pride from how we speak, and there’s a mild nervousness about whether our diction aligns with those around us.

Or, maybe you’re a semi-recent transplant to the area—whether for work, school or family—and you’re curious how your new environment affects your speech. Perhaps you’ve slapped yourself for using the word ‘pop’ when you’ve said ‘soda’ all your life—hey, we’re not above occasional (and gentle) self-punishment—and have noticed other ways you’ve changed.

Thanks to Josh Katz, a doctoral student at North Carolina State and an intern graphics editor at the New York Times, we have an easy means of measuring how well our dialect correlates with our neighbors.

Using data collected from responses of an earlier survey conducted between August and October 2013, Katz released a quiz that draws 25 questions from the original Harvard Dialect Survey by Bert Vaux and Scott Golder. 

Ranging from how you pronounce the second vowel sound in “pajamas” to the differences in pronunciations in “cot” and “caught,” your answers to the slew of multiple-choice questions will pigeon-hole you into the three cities that most closely share your responses.

Obviously, there’s a pop vs. soda question—we’re still judging those of you who call everything “coke,” you know—and also the subtly divisive pronunciation of “caramel.”

Take the survey here through the New York Times website.

Here’s a post from September that introduces Katz’s first dialect survey, but remember that the data in today’s is considerably more current.

Also, if you somehow missed the pop vs. soda debate, you can partake in that here.

(Awkward ‘dog in pajamas’ photos courtesy of Flickr / skirtpr).

TAGGED: dialect map, harvard dialect survey, joshua katz, new york times, pop vs. soda

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