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Research Puts America’s Hundreds of Dialects On Maps

Shreveport LA Dialect
Joshua Katz/North Carolina State University

Ever traveled and heard the phrase “you’re not from around here” and wonder how did they know?  Most likely because you sound “funny” to them.

That is no surprise, especially if you have traveled to other parts of the country.  And a researcher at North Carolina State University has done a study on how Americans pronounce words and phrases differently.

I make it no secret; I’m a New Yorker who spent a lot of time in New England as well.  I wear sneakers on my feet, carbonated beverages are called sodas, and when speaking to a group of people I address them as ‘you all’ or ‘you guys’ rather than ‘y’all.’

Not very Southern.  Or very sweet.  I apologize.  But this study looked at over 100 different points, phrases, words and put the results on a map.

As someone who has been around a little bit, I can say these maps are hilariously accurate, especially when thinking about how friends and family of mine speak in New York and New Hampshire (I had classmates in middle school up in New Hampshire call a water fountain a bubbler.  Young Dennis Foley was mildly taken aback).  Growing up on Long Island, “The City” is always in reference to New York City and I keep slipping up referring to New York as “The City.”

The researchers cover almost anything you can think of.  The pronunciation of “pecans” (I call them ‘PEE-cans’.  Shame on me, I know).  The pronunciation of the Connecticut city, New Haven.  Even what a drive-through liquor store is called (we don’t even have those up in the northeast.  The closest thing is New Hampshire having liquor barns along the major interstates).

Take some time and check these out.  If you have friends in other parts of the country, compare and contrast how you say things with them!  You can also see how similar dialects are in different parts of the country relative to your city!

Of course for me, my two “hometowns” are on their own planets when it comes to dialects…

West Babylon NY Dialect
Joshua Katz/North Carolina State University
Nashua NH Dialect
Joshua Katz/North Carolina State University

Welcome to the United Dialects of America!

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