92 Comments

  1. “caught/cot” merger’?

    It’s been explained elsewhere. I was for a long time a regular participant in the alt.usage.english usenet group and that was one of the common terms. If you even take one of those online dialect quizzes, that sort of question is likely to pop up as they try to figure out the geographic influence on your speech.

    I just went through the NY Times quiz, and:

    Question 12 of 25

    Do you pronounce cot and caught the same?

  2. Interesting. Here’s mine:

    The questions were in general great, with proper design for uncertainty and different kinds of “not applicable” and so on.

    UNFORTUNATELY the one it picked to show my most-similar regions was “sneakers”, one where I did not find the right kind of “I use some of these terms for different things” answer. I answered “sneakers” but really that is for me just for the low-cut kind, not at all fancy, inexpensive, and often a single color. “Tennis shoes” are high-top, probably all-white, classy and expensive but not flashy. “Gym shoes” are almost all other kinds of trainers, except those for running which are “running shoes” and I think were not listed. And “trainers” while listed is something I never say and never hear or read outside of British TV. (I appeared to write it a few sentences back, but that was to avoid using any of the others when I needed a generic.)

  3. I say Mary and marry the same, and merry differently. And that pattern was a choice! That’s an example of what I mean by saying this is clearly professional and well-designed.

  4. Judging from what I have gleaned about you, the results from the quiz seem to have properly pegged your Florida origins, and it seems you have not assimilated to your Chicago environs. As for Mike P, being as he’s a Brit taking this for Americans quiz, it nevertheless gave pretty plausible results from the obviously lacking choices, highlighting the east coast areas that most copied the changes occurring in England to spoken English from our common start (rhoticity being the most obvious one). I’d say not bad, not bad at all….

  5. (@larK: I took your invitation and edited out your intentional moderation trigger plus the preface. But the rest is happily approved.)

    For unknown reasons, Mike’s sharing included the auxiliary maps for particularly salient items, but mine didn’t. However, I did see them. That’s why I went on about “sneakers” — that was the item that it said made me similar to NYC and … Yonkers?? I was going to say I have never even been to Yonkers, but thinking about it I may have passed thru there on the way to my friend in Larchmont. Anyhow, that was also an item where I didn’t feel that the multiple options stretched to cover my pattern, so it was odd that was the one it counted most salient.

  6. In the spirit of openes and full discosure, my map (which won’t mean anything if my previous comment doesn’t come through — Mitch, I guss delte this too if you delete the previous one):

  7. Oh, crap, that didn’t link my results, just the quiz as a whole — how did you guys do it to show your individual links (I thought the share link button would do it, but I was wrong; I hope it’s not, “manually save the picture, upload it to some common picture sharing service…”

    I’d say my results were remarkably accurate, and that the highlighted “distinctive” answers were 2/3 nonsense (the same word (sneakers) for two different cities (Yonkers and New York), just like Mitch

  8. Hmm, larK and Brian in STL, the images that come thru for both of you look identical, including two city selections. Are you sure you got the results map and not somehow the intro / cover page?

    BTW Brian, thanks for introducing us to this interesting tool!

  9. Sorry, stupid site, now I’ve lost the results, too. (Shoudl have just screen shotted it..)
    Disregard my two attemps abve, and then disregart this, too…

  10. Nope, sorry — just gives me a Page Not Found.

    If you still have access to your results page, you could right-click on the map to save to your local device, then carry thru with the upload method.

    … No, I see in the meantime you posted that you’ve lost contact with the results. Ah well, sorry.

  11. @Mitch4 – the shoes one irked me as well. I think I went for trainers, but the question was fundamentally flawed as it was based on the premise that shoes to wear in a gym are the same as other athletic activities. And I’d like to know why “plimsolls” wasn’t an option.

    But as a cultural insight it was interesting. Some things foxed me – I just couldn’t workout what was going on with “What do you call something that is across both streets from you at an intersection (or diagonally across from you in general)?”. Some intrigued – I had no idea that the day before Halloween was anything.

    One was interesting as here in the UK it has connotations not only of location, but “class”. The ‘dinner’ vs ‘supper’ one. For me supper is a later meal than dinner, but either could be the main meal, or more main than the other, and there’s no difference in formality. But the differences would be far less nuanced further North, where, as used to be much more geographically widespread but much more rooted in “working class” language, it is still, AFAIK, fairly common that ‘dinner’ is eaten in the middle of the day, and the late afternoon/early evening meal is ‘tea’.

  12. @Mike P – I noticed you are using an image upload/share site called Postimage, or at https://postimages.org/ . It looks to be free — is that correct, or is there a later fee for enhancements or something? And is the service useful / serviceable?

    The reason I ask is probably obvious, as we regularly issue generic advice on how to embed images in comments when you can’t get the right kind of URL for a comic or other image you’d like to include within a comment. And the advice is to save to your local device then upload to a site where you can put it and get a good URL to use as link in a comment. But we haven’t made recommendation for any particular upload site.

  13. I didn’t “share” my map – the URL didn’t look personalised – I did screenshots (2, to include the auxiliary maps).

    larK – you can run the quiz again. You’ll find that some of the questions are different.

  14. Okay, I joined Postimage free account and it looks all right, but the Premium option isn’t mentioned until you have signed in to the free one.

  15. Hmm, larK and Brian in STL, the images that come thru for both of you look identical, including two city selections.

    I was not attempting to post my results That didn’t occur to me. I put in the starting URL for the quiz in case people wanted to check it out. That’s the image for the base link before you take the quiz. I didn’t realize that it would do that. It’s never obvious to me when a link will do something like that versus just being a clickable URL.

  16. The varying selection of questions can make a difference. One that does for me is the diagonally opposite question. I picked up “kitty-corner” during my childhood in Iowa, As it’s not a frequently-use phrase, I never lost it although some or all of my siblings say something else (I’m the oldest and we moved when I was eight or so). Unlike “pop”, which I said as a kid be changed to “soda” over time.

    If kitty-corner is in the questions, it shifts my results north and throws an extra epicenter of Rockford Illinois.

  17. Here’s a problematic question for me:

    What do you call the small freshwater lobster often found in lakes and streams?

    If referring to the wild animal, I’d call them “crawdads” as we did when I was a kid and lived in an apartment complex near a creek in OK. If referring to a culinary dish, I’d say “crawfish”.

  18. I had some hesitation with the diagonal item. I say “kitty-corner” but will write (and kind of expect to read) “catercorner”. Because I think of that as the official spelling. If I were reading aloud from a text (and it wasn’t a tst … or linguistics survey) I would see “catercorner” and probably speak it as “kitty-corner”.

  19. On a completed quiz, there is an area for sharing. One option is a link (chain symbol), which I think will work. I will try below.

  20. @Mitch4 – yes, Postimage is free, or there’s a “Premium” service which allows larger images (if 24MB isn’t enough), higher resolution (ditto 1280px), and is ad-free.

    The free service can be used anonymously (i.e. you don’t need even a free “account”), but without signing up you’ll never be able to find anything you uploaded in the past unless you keep your own records of the URLs. For ephemeral use like putting screenshots in posts here that doesn’t matter – I’ve not got an account.

    You can “crossload” from other websites but IIRC occasionally some sites see that as a hotlink to be blocked..

    It has a neat tool you can download (Windoze) which will let you do screenshots, do basic editing/annotating, upload it and get the link back, or upload a local image via a right-click context menu in file explorer.

    Image links are available in a number of different “bulletin board” formats, such as phpBB, direct images, thumbnails, etc.

    Overall, I like it, it meets my needs well, but those needs do not include galleries, slide-shows etc.

  21. Thanks, MikeP.

    Here I’m using the Windows app in screenshot mode to capture Brian’s full page of results.

  22. OK, I hope this will be the last try (using Brian’s forced link method):

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/dialect-quiz-map.html?r=020k40p10400104j10000000l0000080820011802002020100

    (When I did it a second time, I second guessed myself with some of the answers, things I’ve learned to say differently because of the reaction I’d get if I said what I grew up with, and I got a different, less satisfactory map; so this third time I forced myself to give the “original” answers to get a more “authentic” map… “Hoagie” was the big differentiator: I don’t really say it anymore, I would say a “sub”, but to my mind, “hoagie” is the Ur-word. I think I would say firefly over lightning bug nowadays, but I don’t often say either, and I know it was lightning bug growing up… I think I would say “diagonal”, but in my mind I hear kitty-corner…)

  23. @Brian in STL – actually that one wasn’t problematic for me at all – ‘crayfish’ in any situation. (Scampi vs Dublin Bay prawn vs Norway lobster, OTOH….)

    “Small” made me smile a bit

    On the left a UK native crayfish, on the right an American signal crayfish – classed as an invasive species here, and doing damage. I read an amusing news report a few years ago where the (whatever the govt dept responsible for environmental issues was called at the time) had a campaign to try and eradicate the signal crayfish in an area, and were paying a bounty for people to catch them. One commercial fisherman was doing very nicely – already trapping them and selling them to restaurants he was suddenly being paid a second time by the govt for the same animals.

  24. “pop” used to be the word here when I was growing up. The question in the quiz struck me as odd as it implied that “lemonade” and”coke” are generic terms for any carbonated soft drink, irrespective of whether it is actually lemonade or cola.

  25. I don’t know about “lemonade” getting used that non-specifically, but I think “coke” for even non-cola pop drinks is pretty well attested. And maybe especially near Atlanta, home of the Co’Cola company.

  26. @Mitch4 ““Tennis shoes” are high-top, probably all-white, classy and expensive but not flashy.”

    The first “designer” tennis shoes were definitely flashy.

  27. I doubt that the rewards were worth the risks attendant on committing criminal acts in order to get public funding to deal with the results of them.

  28. Yes, there are places where this is a reasonable and common exchange:

    W: And what would you like to drink?
    D: A coke.
    W: What kind?
    D: Coke.

    “Lemonade” as generic I associate with the UK though.

    (I tried the quiz. It told me I’m from Boston. Shocking.)

  29. I tried the quiz, too: it told me that I might be from a number of places, none of which I’ve ever actually lived in, or even visited. However, resided in several different locations with in the continental US (each of them separated by at least 1000 miles from the others), I often had trouble picking a single answer from the available options (such as “firefly” vs. “lightning bug”). And, now, having lived in Germany for nearly three decades, there’s probably a subconcious “normalization” effect that tends to reduce any specific American regionalisms.

  30. @DiB – don’t think I’ve ever encountered “lemonade” being used as a generic term for a soft drink.

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