Wednesday, November 15, 2006


This is a very popular quiz this week -- it's been everywhere, including Gene Weingarten's chat. So, I took it. And the results are, uh, peculiar:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

This says I have no accent. It's wrong, though, because I have a combination of accents.

I mean, I grew up in New Jersey, roughly halfway between New York and Philly, and then moved to Southeast Florida. I went to college in Tallahassee, which is pretty darn southern -- enough that I can -- and do -- use the term "y'all." My parents grew up in the Bronx/Brooklyn and Jersey City.* My grandparents are from the Bronx, but lived in Massachusetts for a long time. My cousins definitely speak with some Boston tendencies (and call subs "grinders").

I think "Philadelphia" and "Inland North" are overrepresented, and "The South" is underrepresented in my result.

*I'd say they both have New York accents, but my dad has a New Jersey accent, which is somewhat distinctive. The best example is that he says "Nuurk" instead of "Newark."


DSL said...

The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

Pretty much the same as Midland, or whatever yours was, which I think was second highest.

Using different words is not part of the accent. You may use a different dialect for all I know, but I don't detect an accent in you.

Bo W. said...

"That's a Southern accent you've got there. You may love it, you may hate it, you may swear you don't have it, but whatever the case, we can hear it."

Surpise, surpise. People in the North notice the accent, but people in the South think I am from somewhere else, especially when they say, "you're not from 'round here are you?" Thankfully, only once was my reply, "I am, but I am an educated Southerner, you asshole." :)

Midwest and Philly were also pretty high on my chart . . . Boston, not so much.

DSL said...

I don't know about that. I don't hear it at all when she talks to me. Perhaps she talks differently to you Bo because you're Southern. (That happens sometimes.)

Also, I've had some people (even Southerners) tell me I sound Southern. Don't know where they get that from. My aunt (by marriage) from South Carolina definitely has that Southern accent.

Dara said...

Debby: I think Bo was saying he tested as having a Southern accent. Which is true.

I don't have an accent. I have a combination of a bunch of different accents. None of which are "Midland."

Rache said...

English people (unless they have lived in the US, or have American friends) won't be able to differentiate between American accents, and you will definitely have an accent to us, whether it's a 'Midland' accent or not.

There are regional dialects here in England too, some of those will probably be completely lost to people in the US :) There's the ones that are used a lot in comedy, ie. Daphne's Mancunian accent in Frasier. Everyone has an accent, of some form :)

DSL said...

Oops, that the second time this week I've mistaken a quote for someone's actual words. Oh well. Makes for more conversation I guess. I do really like the Southern accent, although I didn't growing up oddly enough.

Dara said...

Rache: Thanks for stopping by!

When I lived in London -- which was only for a summer -- after a couple of weeks, I was definitely able to start picking up on the different regional accents -- and dialects. Question for you, though: Can y'all tell the difference between Americans and Canadians?

Debby: Bo's accent is fun. And forget about the typical slow southern drawl: He and our equally-Southern classmate are the fastest talking people I know.

Jeff said...

It got me right on the nose- it placed me as "Philadelphia", but said if I'm not from there, I'm from someplace near there like "south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington". And all that without asking me how to pronounce "water".

Dara said...

Jeff: But isn't the Bawlmor accent different from Philly?

Anonymous said...

oh honeys, ya'll aint 'neven scratcheded the surfiss on this here topic.

In Tallahassee alone, there 'bout 48 diffrent southern dilecks, child, an' 39 of 'em is spokeded in ever singal trailer park.

RJ said...

Philadelphia for me. Not bad, I am from Pennsylvania, the state where the verb "to be" is considered optional.

This sentence no verb!

Kimberly said...

i got philly. considering i grew up about 15 minutes in the burbs, i think it's pretty accurate. i was surprised.

Justin S. said...

I'm a latecomer to this conversation, but it pegged me exactly right... Midland. It even listed Southern Illinois as a place I could be from.

Peter said...

Wow, even though I stopped pronouncing "bag" like it rhymes with "vague" when I moved to Florida in the third grade, I apparently still have an inland north accent.

My Result: The Inland North

"You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop.""

Justin S. said...

For the record, Dara, I don't think you have an accent and Midland, despite where you have lived, fits you pretty well. No one would think your accent was out of place in Southern Illinois. I don't hear any Jersey or any South in your voice.

I lived in Wisconsin for two years and never picked up the Upper Midwest (Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dakotas.... minor variations but they're all pretty close). So it's not all about where you lived.

DSL said...

My dad gave up his New York pronunciation of some words (e.g., orange, almond) because his kids laughed at it. :-p

Dara said...

Trailer Trash: (I feel bad even typing that.) When I was in college, I had a brief stint working for the Tallahassee Democrat, calling people to renew their subscriptions. They had the weirest assortment of accents.

RJ: Maybe a little.

Kimmie: I never really detected an accent with you.

Justin: Yeah, it pegged you. And you're right, you don't sound like you picked up any Wisconsin. Unlike some people who actually grew up there.

Maybe you're right about my accent. But when I moved to Florida in the 8th grade, I had a pretty strong New Jersey accent. I guess I lost it. Probably more so because middle school kids are cruel.

Peter: When I first met you, I figured out you were from somewhere like Illinois or Wisconsin pretty quickly. You confirmed it when you brought me back a cup from a Wisconsin casino, remember? But it's only when you say certain words.

And I don't get the bag/vague thing. Someone's going to have to demonstrate that for me.

Debby: I get the orange thing, but almond? How did he say that funny?

Now I'm going to have to go home and listen to my parents say that word.

DSL said...

Get rid of the "L" and pronounce the "a" as in "bad"

Peter said...

I'm not even sure if I can pronounce "bag" like I used to. I think that I basically just pronounced it with a hard A sound instead of a soft A.

By the way, I did used to say "pop" and stopped that around the same time that I changed the way I said "bag," though it was less because people made fun of me and more because they didn't know what I was talking about when I said "pop."

Are you sure about the Wisconsin casino cup? I don't really remember being in a casino in Wisconsin. But, you do have a much better memory than I do, so I'll take your word for it.

Dara said...

Debby: Aha. I think my parents say it like "ahl-mond." Is that right?

It never struck me as all that weird.

Peter: It was a cup. From a casino. Smelled vaguely like coins.

I had asked for a cheese-head hat.

Maybe it wasn't from Wisconsin, but you brought it back from some trip to see your family there.

honeykbee said...

"Nuurk" is the proper enunciation of "Newark." Unless its "Newark" Delaware, then it's "New-Ark". Just sayin', y'all.

--Part-time Brooklynite.

Dara said...

Honeykbee: I lived in NJ for 12 years, and I still can't wrap my mind around why my dad says "Nuurk." Or "liberry" instead of library.

Also, when he answers the phone, it sounds like he says "Yellow" -- but clearly that's a whole other issue.