Dialect quiz tracks down where you grew up

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/18/dialect-quiz-tracks-down-where.html


Not bad.

It correctly identified that I was raised all over the place.

Mind you, there’s at least one trick question.

How do you refer to a lot of rain?

If you don’t select all of the offered options, does it tell you “Nice try, non-UK/Irish person”?


The US version has me living almost everywhere, which makes sense, since my hometown is 93% transient.


Got me completely wrong. But perhaps it’s because I answered “would you use” honestly. I mean, I’m familiar with “wazzock” as a word for a stupid person, I heard it plenty growing up in Cornwall. But it never made its way into my vocabulary, perhaps because I was raised by a mother from Croydon and a father who attended a public school and whose own father came from Hungary.




The U.S map correctly identifies the area I am most like but probably that is because they colored 90% of the country orange, that said the most deep orange areas I’ve never been in. and I have lived in parts of the areas they marked as blue. So I didn’t get that uncanny feeling of how can a computer program know me so well!!?


The US map has me coming from Yonkers. Nope. I guess the NYC area has a lot more influence on the Northeast than I expected. However there were a few questions I may have misunderstood. I’m tempted to do the UK one now to see if it figures out I’m a Yank. (Answer: yes.)

I noticed if you do the US test again it has some alternate questions. There are also a lot of questions that I could answer multiple ways, so even doing the test again gives me only semi-accurate answers.


For the U.K. one, I got “You’re not from around here”, and the U.S. one put me closest to Buffalo, which is not wrong; I’m a Toronto native. But there there isn’t a Canadian one yet.


It made three guesses for me, one was in Florida and two in California. However i suppose i was “cheating” because i wasn’t raised in the US, grew up in Venezuela and moved here right after high school. Most of my time in the US has been in Nevada, Colorado and Texas so i figured there was no way the quiz could pin down where i “grew up” as i use a mix of words and phrases from different places. I also have a habit of changing how i pronounce some words.


Mine said I am from North Cumbria or the North-east of England



I took the US version when it came out a number of years ago. It was shockingly accurate. It got my birthplace down to the small section of Queens that I grew up in, even though I haven’t spent significant time there since the mid-90s. And I just took the quiz again. The thing that got me was this question:

How do you pronounce the words Mary , merry and marry ?

I pronounce them all differently, and that makes me quite a freak, except for my few neighbors who grew up around Shea stadium.

Though, now that I took the quiz again, it’s not quite as precise. It has me growing up as far north as Yonkers and as far west as New Jersey.


“Boing boing has sent you to us too many times this month. No more for you.”


In the American quiz:

I’m an odd duck to be sure (father Californian, mother British, grew up in neither of those places), but:

Birthplace: dark blue
Primary School: light blue
College: yellow
Next twenty years: dark blue
Town I’ve wound up in last 5 years, where I don’t really have any friends and don’t go out much: dark orange

I’ve visited the North East very rarely, and spent a grand total of three days in New York City, all drunk. I’m guessing that if this quiz was written in San Francisco, all complicated respondents would be placed there instead…

For me there needed to be a lot of multi-selects, since I use a lot of the words interchangeably. Also, pill bugs and sow bugs are different isopods (round shell vs flat).

And that question about the rain was definitely used to distinguish between about five tiny villages in the Appalachians.

The British map put me in the West Country with dots in mid Wales and Cornwall, it’s a tiny dot on the south Wales coast where my grandmother lived. I like that there were more multi-selects on that one.


The three cities closest to my answers were San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont. I was born and spent most of my childhood and young adulthood there, so :+1:.


The US version pegged me pretty good… um, hang on, that’s not…I mean, it nailed me- nope, no better… it correctly guessed the city where I was born and raised. I think the deciding factor was that we use the word “bubbler” to mean drinking fountain, though technically it is pronounced and should be spelled “bubblah.” Chowder (“chowdah” to natives) would probably have sealed the deal too.


Chicago born and (south suburbs) raised here, with a classic Great Lakes accent, and quite rightly I got “Definitely not from around here are you?” The final map’s darkest regions were Galway, Cork, and Dublin (but not central Ireland nor Northern Ireland), and somewhere near Birmingham.

The US version placed me pretty accurately, with the darker regions concentrated around Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Apparently, “cot” and “caught” sounding distinctly different is something that’s especially characteristic of northern Illinois.


Hmm. I always associated that with Wisconsin, though pronounced with the typical Midwest hard “r” rather than the soft New England version.


I don’t know, maybe it was the combination of rotary for traffic circle and bubbler for drinking fountain. I didn’t realize it was a common usage in Wisconsin. Filing that away for when I go on the lam.


Doing the British test as an American, it’s interesting to see how US vocabulary comes from all over the UK. Which obviously makes sense, but US English is not just the vocabulary common to the whole of the UK, as one might imagine, but full of highly regional word usages common only to the US and, say, Northern-most England, or Southern Ireland.