Tuesday, December 24, 2013

While You're Waiting For Santa

Try this dialect detector. It nailed me as from Central Kentucky, although it gave probabilities to two Southeastern cities I've never been to.

Kevin Drum explains how the detector can get it wrong.

Everyone's favorite timewaster of the past couple of days has been the New York Times' online dialect map. Answer 25 questions and it will tell you where you grew up. My results were disappointingly vague. Lots of people reported that the app practically located the city block they came from, but in my case it didn't even get the right part of the state. I've spent my entire life within a radius of about 20 miles centered on Orange County, but the app thinks I come from northern California:


So I dug in further. Which question was IDing me wrong? After plowing through the test about a dozen times giving different answers to one or two questions at a time, I finally figured it out. It was this one: "What do you call the small road parallel to the highway?" I think of this as a frontage road, but when I switched to service road, the app pegged me with eerie precision:

In my case, I think years spent in the Midwest and Northeast have tainted my pure Bluegrass speech, but how that tilted my results more southerly is a mystery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Uh, I was born in HI, raised in upstate NY but later in SW Ohio. Now live in East TN. This says I sound like Lexington or Louisville. Go figure….