NY Times vocabulary quiz determines where you are from


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Me? Problys neewhere, bonny lad…

Aye. Doesn’t work for Brits. Tried it yesterday.

Edit : turns out it does work. I am from SF, Oakland or Honolulu, apparently.


It thought I was in California, but the northwest is the only area to call cougars cougars. Everyone else calls them stuff like “mountain lions”. For some reason it thought only Washington does this, but I’ve only ever heard them referred to as cougars.

What do you call a traffic situation in which several roads meet in a circle?

A clusterfuck?


It nailed me - combo of Alabama and New Orleans. Yep y’all. Let’s go get a Coke in the neutral ground.

It has me spread all over the east coast and into the midwest.

Which I guess is about right. But all it’s done is eliminate the west coast.

or a Charlie-Foxtrot if you’re in polite company

We call them mountain lions or cougars, for the most part, but some older folks hereabouts call 'em painters or catamounts. There is at least one, probably two living in the state of Delaware.

We also usually call wood lice either roly-polys, pill bugs or sow bugs, but people who know what they are typically know all four names.

The quiz pegged my stomping grounds pretty good, despite my frequent use of y’all and other non-local expressions. Caught me on pronunciation…

edit: Added pill bug.

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It knew I was from MA, as we refer to these as a “rotary.” I tend to borrow a lot of turns of phrase from other areas, but answered according to what felt most natural to where I grew up, and bam, it got me. I’m from Western MA, and it fingered Springfield, Worcester and Boston as my three closest cities. Not bad! But mostly due to the word rotary, I think MA is the only state that refers to roundabouts as such.

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I’ve had it explained to me that “sow-bug” and “pill-bug” refer to different species: “sow-bugs” have a flattened edge to their shell, while “pill-bugs” have a higher shell that curves straight down to the ground.

Of course, they’re neither bugs nor lice (nor pigs, nor pills, we all know this), but a rare terrestrial crustacean. And while I think they’re cute, their relatives are the stuff of nightmares:

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Yes! The first picture looks like a pill bug (roly poly) atop a sow bug… and both kinds are wood lice.

They get called “sow bugs” because of the way some of them will carry a mass of squirming young on their bellies, it looks like piglets on a sow.

But most people in my area don’t know (or care about) the difference and use all those names interchangeably.

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It put me in Rochester or Buffalo, which are the two US cities closest to Toronto. Pretty accurate!

Raleigh, Augusta, GA, and Montgomery…? I’ve never been to Raleigh and have only spent a minimal amount of time in Augusta and Montgomery. Weird.

I’m strangely annoyed by this.

Someone once remarked that I sounded like a “British robot” - I blame the pharmaceuticals - but the New York Times pegged me as growing up mostly in Central Jersey. At least I didn’t pick up my mother’s use of “wudder.”

Also, I kind of want to visit the mystical lands where some of these terms are used:


Right! I thought I remembered that, but couldn’t find that detail.

I saw a Pill Millipede in Thailand: they really look exactly like giant pill bugs…even roll up like them.

It did a fair job nailing me to the west coast as that’s where I grew up, but the cities it listed I had never been to prior to age 20.

I moved around a lot growing up though, and several of the words they asked about I picked up from other kids that had moved around a lot so I wonder if that’s how I picked up terms that are common in those places.

They nailed it. They practically had my street address.


Yeah, I call them isopods (I read an invertebrate zoology textbook at a formative age), though my mother has used pill bugs, potato bugs, and sow bugs for them. The thing keeps erroring out, so I wonder how it will handle my accent, after being raised by two Canadians from opposite sides of the country, while having lived in upstate New York, Ontario, Cape Breton, and several places in Africa, while interacting with an inordinate number of people from various parts of the UK. I had a problem on the test where my pronunciation can go several ways depending on mood, phase of moon, time of day, and company, but they made you pick one.

As an Australian I tried this for a laugh and just for reference it suggested my 3 cities were:Newark / Paterson, Jersey City & New York. Curious…