Sunday, November 12, 2006

"You don't sound like you're from Texas"

I suppose this chart confirms that:

What American accent do you have?
Your 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."

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

My present locale is the closest to "the inland North" that I've ever lived; what's even more interesting is that most native Wichitans sound to me like they are from the western regions of the old Confederacy (though not Texas so much)--which, in fact, is true of their ancestors--who, unlike me, have learned to say "pop." (Aside: long-time readers may remember that this blog has something of a preoccupation with this "pop" thing.).

More-information-than-you-could-reasonably-want-to-know-about-me alert, placed below the fold to spare those of you who are reasonable.

There once was a time when I could have been picked out of any dialect lineup as a Texan or western Southerner. But then along came that traumatic developmental Purgatory called "junior-high school," when my peers felt that the fact that I in all innocence pronounced the word "theater" with a very-stressed first syllable and a barn-door-broad second syllable provided them with an occasion for even more mirth-making than my physical and sartorial and social awkwardnesses were already providing them. Regarding some things, at least, I am a fast learner. Over time, I subconsciously internalized pronunciations that no one seemed to be laughing at. That is, I guess I did that (it was subconscious, after all). All I know that, one day in college, someone said to me, "You don't sound like you're from Texas." I thought it odd that someone would say that because, to my ears, I sounded the same as I always did . . . but then I thought back to all that stuff from junior-high school that I had repressed, and a great light dawned.

Curiously, it was also in college that I had my first real, honest-to-goodness girlfriends. But a discussion of the convergence between that fact and the fact that I no longer pronounce "theater" as I once did will have to wait for now.


fearful_syzygy said...

"Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak."


poco said...

"Inland North" but I stoppped using the word "pop" a few years after moving from the Chicago area. I was tired of Californians making fun of me. BTW you should here the way they saw "hot" and "dude."

debra said...

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.

I don't know - sounds boring to me.

R. Sherman said...

Midland for me, but then my father from the Ozarks drilled into us kids the necessity of eliminating the sounds of the Ozark Highlands from our speech, i.e "Bear" pronounced as "Bar" and such. He said if we spoke that way, people would think we were stupid.

Of course, at family get-togethers, he could drop into it in heart beat.

Mom's dialect was pure south St. Louis which is very unique. "Forty" is pronounced "Farty" and there's an "r" after the "a" in "Washington."

Cool stuff, language.


fearful_syzygy said...

Wow, the 'a' in 'Washington'? That's really hard to do! Unless your pronunciation of 'Washington' is also different in some way?

John B. said...

Randall and Mr. Syzygy,
My mother (Austin-born and -raised) does that as well; that, though, is a pronunciation that I never picked up from her. I speak more like my father, who, though raised in Texas, had more of a Midwest than a Texas accent. Mom has the drawl.

Winston said...

Suthun for me, with heavy components left over from my 25 years in Pittsburgh, Indiana, and Iowa. Will post soon with proper attribution.

I had two dawnings that moved me to consciously change some pronunciations. The first was in HS where I had a lead role in the Sr. play. Several times during the course of the play my script included the word "Italian". As many years as it has been, I can still hear the drama teacher, Mrs. Lassiter, dramatically waving her arms to stop rehearsal and screaming "IT-alian", NOT "EYE-talian". That served me well, since the second baptism occurred with my move to Pittsburgh by the Big Corp that recruited me out of college. Pittsburgh is heavily populated with "EYE-talians", but I quickly fell in love with good Italian cooking. Pittsburghers not only have a unique accent, they almost have their own language. They use words not even known in the rest of the country, and have differing usages for some words than you might find elsewhere.