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Speak like a Buffalonian: Pop vs. soda author digs into dialect - SURVEY

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Well, I apparently speak more like I’m from Rochester than Buffalo.

North Carolina State graduate student Joshua Katz—the author of the remarkably telling ‘pop vs. soda’ map from June—returns with another survey that aggregates your dialect through a series of questions and places you in the region that speaks most similarly.

Take the 25-question survey here, but be wary that there are moments when the server is too busy. Be patient and keep refreshing a few times—it’s worth it.

Through questions like “how do you pronounce Mary/merry/marry?” and “how do you say the ‘c’ in ‘grocery’?”, the results of the study will place you in a major city with similar speakers.

For instance, while I’ve lived in Western New York my entire life, the first two cities that the study planted me were Rochester, NY, and Buffalo, NY. 

Here are Katz’s directions for those attacking the survey:

For these questions, remember there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers—just choose whichever word or pronunciation you actually use in your everyday, informal speech.

Why is this tool valuable? It’s fascinating (to a ‘word nerd’ like me, at least) to realize how I pronounce words and define terms—especially in relation to others I interact with daily. Have you ever been gently mocked for the way you pronounce a word? Or how about how you name a certain object? This gets a little more complex than your typical “y’all” or our Buffalo “aaaaahs” that come out as “eeeeeehs.”

Take this, for example: “What do you call the insect that flies around in the summer and has a rear section that glows in the dark?” Apparently some Americans call “fireflies” “peenie wallies” (pictured in header).

Or this: “What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?” Common responses include “pineapple rain” and “the wolf is giving birth.” I wasn’t sure how to answer this one.

Believe it or not, many people relocate during their lifetimes, and it’s worth seeing how such a move affects dialect—do you carry your Texan speech tendencies long after your move to Buffalo? If only certain sections of your dialect evolve since your move, will the survey plant you in an unexpected region like Helena, Mont.?

There’s a full 140-question dialect survey, too, if you’re looking to burn some afternoon office time. It’s educational, so if your boss looks at you dubiously, ask him how he or she pronounces ‘coupon’ and press forward nobly.

(Header photo of the ‘peenie wallie’ comes from blogs.jamaicans.com).

TAGGED: joshua katz, linguistics, north carolina state, regional dialects, surveys

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