Monday, November 13, 2006

Hear thyself

I came across a link to this quiz at Pharyngula that identifes American accents by region (also picked up by John at A DC Birding blog). So I went and took it.

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.

Boston

The West

Philadelphia

The Northeast

The Inland North

North Central

The South

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

This is not an unreasonable result for a Canadian, many of us do find our way into the United States as broadcasters, though according to commenters at Pharyngula, Canadians ended up with a variety of results. And not surprisingly, the few questions that make up the quiz fail to distinguish all the regional sounds, even in broad strokes. Apparently southern American accents just slip on by.

Most interesting in the comments to this Canadian though was a link to a site about Canadian raising (Canadian raising and other oddities), a phenomenon that explains why Americans hear us saying "aboot" for "about," and we don't know what they're talking aboot. There a number of audio clips of the phenomenon--I'm still not sure what people in other English-speaking communities are hearing, but at least now I know that I don't know, eh. (Narrative use of "eh," also explained on the site, though the example there is a little off.)

I worked in a call centre for a few months a few years ago, ostensibly helping people with their internet connections--actually my job was to get people off the phone as soon as was contractually possible, which is one of the reasons I lasted only a few months. The callers were in the United States, and I was identified as a Canadian by almost one a day. Could it be because I was born and raised in Toronto? According to the website:
Canadian raising is especially rampant among natives of Toronto, who also have a unique way of pronouncing the name of their city.
One of my favourite sounds is the name of my native city pronounced by an American. All those beautiful round syllables.

4 comments:

Lynne said...

I took the quiz and the results were "Inland North", ya sure, you betcha! And yes, here we drink pop, not soda.

Minnesota Lynne

Pamela Martin said...

We drink pop too--I only recently learned that there are pop drinkers in the US. Before I knew that I thought there must be some cultural explanation of why in one country we shorten in one direction, and in the other the other: from "soda pop" -> "soda" and "pop." Then yesterday I learned that in parts of the US "coke" is used to refer to pop....I guess regional dialects know no national boundaries.

Muad'Dib said...

Interesting.. I am inland north as well.. hrmm. My family have been in this part of ontario since 1778

Pamela Martin said...

You do call carbonated drinks "pop" don't you? I think Inland North is a common result for Canadians taking the little quiz.

I wish my grandmother were still around to try it--she grew up (Anglophone) in Chelsea, Quebec, and had quite an interesting accent--for example, she pronounced my mother's name, Carol as car (as in the automobile) el--or something close to it--I miss the sound.