An American English dialect quiz correctly guessed where I originally grew up in the US

Take this interesting American English dialect quiz yourself.

I took the quiz and wondered what it would analyze mine to be, given that I’ve lived in various places in the US in my life. I had a strong suspicion.

Where I have lived in the US

In particular, I spent my first years in the US in Johnson City, New York, while my father was a graduate student at SUNY Binghamton, and therefore my initial English vocabulary and accent derived from that region, but then lived in New York City during ages 5-7, then moved to Parsippany, New Jersey for 7-9.

Then, from age 9-27, I lived in Michigan (not including the time away in universities). I remember how traumatic this move was for me. It was not only because I missed my school friends, hills, the Atlantic Ocean, and eating Chinese food, but also because all my new schoolmates thought I talked funny and used entire sets of words that I did not use! The quiz reminded me of this big transition of mine from the East Coast to the Midwest.

Possibly, if we had moved when I was younger than 9, I would have chosen to adapt my speech to the new dialects around me. But I was stubborn. For the most part, I deliberately chose to continue pronouncing vowels the “New York” way (because that seemed more “logical”), and I chose to use certain words despite of course coming to understand the regional synonyms in Michigan. I’m not sure why I had to be so stubborn, but I did. Maybe I felt that my use of English was part of my identity somehow, or maybe it’s more that I did not expect my parents to change, so it was easiest to continue communicating with them saying things like “soda” rather than “pop”, for example.

And so it was not a big surprise to me that after I took the quiz (my results are here), the analysis was that my English is most similar to that in the regions of New York, Yonkers, and Newark/Paterson.

Note that since 27, I have lived in Pittsburgh for 17 years now. No, I still do not say “yinz”, and again, although it was kind of a language shock for me moving from Michigan, I have adapted to understanding the local preferred pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary of Pittsburghese, but I do not always use it myself. I have been known to sometimes slip and say “needs washed”, but I think I’m mostly set in my ways in my use of the English language.

Your turn

If you haved lived in the US, what is your quiz result? Does it surprise you? If you have moved around, either as an immigrant or within the US, have you been jolted by dialect differences? Have you ever deliberately changed the way to speak and write English? Why or why not?

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