American Accent Quiz

Since we discuss accents and name pronunciation so much here, I thought I'd post this quiz I came across: http://www.gotoquiz.com/what_american_accent_do_you_have

It asks about Mary, merry, marry, as well as don vs dawn, etc.

Here are my results:

"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.

The interesting thing is that I'm from Tennessee, but "The South" ranked very low on my accent rating. All that hard work resisting a redneck drawl paid off :)

What about you? Do you think it's accurate?

Replies

1
October 18, 2013 12:18 PM

It says my accent is "Inland North" and gives this description: 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."

That might be my accent, but I was raised in Virginia to parents from Washington, DC and New Mexico and have lived in NC for over 20 years. I've never really traveled to the inland north, so I question the accuracy of this quiz. I enjoyed taking it, though!

2
October 18, 2013 1:09 PM

I too have "Inland North".  Was born in CA, raised in WA State, and have never been to Chicago or the Great Lakes. In fact, I have never been East of Idaho until I was 16. East Coast for the first time at 23, and have only been there twice (VA and Boston), and the South once (Alabama). Carbonated drinks are soda pop to me. 

Amusingly, "The West" was my lowest score on my accent. I did have to fudge on one answer. Mary and marry are the same to me with merry being different, which wasn't an option.

But I also tend to pick up accents *very* quickly as we discovered on our trip to VA. Within 3 days, tourists were asking me for directions and thoroughly confused when I told them I had no clue, I was from Seattle. Same thing in Boston and London (which was funny because we stayed with colleagues of my husbands--he's Pakistan born, raised London and she's Cork, Ireland. My accent picked up mostly hers, but some of his, then we went to London, and I picked up some of that too. Locals were *very* confused when I talked to them & they found out I was from the States.).

I still say some words (apparently, since it drives my husband crazy) with an Irish accent thanks to our trip last year. :-)

3
October 18, 2013 1:35 PM

My husband picks up accents like that, and it's so embarrassing sometimes. He will be speaking to a British person and start using a British accent without realizing it, and I always wonder if the person thinks he's making fun of them.  Luckily he hates the TN country accent so he doesn't pick that one up.

4
By hyz
October 18, 2013 4:19 PM

I do this too, totally unintentionally and often without even realizing it until someone else points it out, and it IS embarrassing because it might sound like you are making fun of the person or like you are some imposter trying to pretend you are one of them--when really you don't even mean to do it.  I temporarily pick up random accents from British people I meet on the street and PBS dramas, deep Appalachian residents, my Korean MIL, Canadian shows on HGTV, friends from NY or Boston or Philly, etc., etc.

But the quiz says my accent is "The Midland" (and the other quiz calls me "Neutral") which is probably about right, in general (as long as I haven't been watching too much "Love It or List It" lately).   

 

5
October 18, 2013 5:44 PM

I do the same off tv. DH hates it when I've watched either the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice or several episodes of Downton Abbey....

6
October 18, 2013 3:03 PM

I also pronounce Mary and marry the same, while merry is (slightly) different, but that somehow is never listed as an option on these sorts of quizzes. (The other quiz someone posted at least had a "none of the above" choice for that question.)

This quiz did accurately peg me as Western, but just barely. It really needs to have more questions.

7
December 13, 2013 4:23 AM

My husband has mocked me for years about picking up other people's accents (on TV and irl), and I thought I was he only one. I'm so thrilled to hear I'm not alone!

It does get embarrassing when I'm talking to people and I wonder if they think I'm being rude.

8
October 18, 2013 12:20 PM

I got the same results as Emerald Bee and I am from central Illinois.  That was fun:)

9
October 18, 2013 1:32 PM

Despite the fact that so many people's results don't reflect where they grew up at all, this quiz must pick up on something because these were my results:

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

So, yeah. I'm betting that it's the loud/about question, since Canadians tend not to say them the same way as each other.

I'm also very susceptible to picking up accents. My mother in law speaks with a Nova Scotian accent (though my husband does not), and I somehow managed to pick up some strong and long-lasting tendencies from her, despite not being exposed to her accent all that frequently.

10
October 23, 2013 3:59 PM

WIth the loud/about question, I had to repeat the words out loud *several* times, because I did find them similar when I said them.

I found:

-Loud = "Lowd"

-About = "About"

And Karyn, I assume you mean Gaelic or Newfie accent? I don't believe Nova-Scotians have a particular "accent" overall? (Or do they?) 

11
October 23, 2013 6:47 PM

Nope, I mean Nova Scotia, which is incredibly different from a Newfoundland accent (though can be similar to some New Brunswick accents). Since getting to know my husband's family,  I've been able to recognize NS accents on people I've just met from the way they pronounce certain vowels and the rhythm of their speech.

12
October 18, 2013 1:40 PM

In case anyone is interested, I actually prefer this quiz:

http://www.youthink.com/quiz.cfm?action=go_detail&sub_action=take&obj_id=9827

 

(This one knows that I'm Canadian :D)

13
October 18, 2013 1:47 PM

I got "Neutral" on that one, with basically the same description and states highlighted as "Midland" on the other one.

14
October 18, 2013 2:19 PM

I got "Neutral" on that one as well, which I think is much more accurate and reflective of the way I talk. Inland North indeed! Hmph.

15
October 18, 2013 5:46 PM

This one puts me as "Northern": You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for.

I wonder if this is because of how much tv I watched as a kid and having a Grandma, an aunt, and a mother who were all sticklers for diction?

16
October 21, 2013 12:38 PM

I got Midland with the first quiz, and Western with this one. And I'm from the West, so that's good so far! However, I don't like how the second quiz says "If you want to sound neutral, learn how to say "stock" and "stalk" differently." I do! But the quiz didn't ask about stock vs. stalk, they asked about hock vs. hawk. There's no L in hawk! Why would I pronounce it differently?

17
October 21, 2013 1:54 PM

That's interesting. "Stalk" and "hawk" do rhyme, at least the way I say them.

18
October 21, 2013 3:02 PM

See, and I do have a difference between hock and hawk. For me that w makes the difference. (I'm in the PNW, but have weird language things apparently).

19
October 22, 2013 9:23 AM

Maybe we should talk about our stock-stalk split. Let me see if I can get IPA to work here...

 

stock uses /-ak/, as does hock, hawk, mock, rock, tock, gawk, mawk, auk.

stalk uses /-ɑʟk/, as does walk, talk, chalk, Salk, Falk.

How about for you?

20
October 22, 2013 9:35 AM

I'm not familiar with the IPA notations and am too lazy to look them up, but these are how I break down these words:

 

stock: hock, mock, rock, tock

 

stalk: walk, talk, chalk, Salk, Falk, hawk, gawk, mawk, auk

 

The 'al' interior combination is identical to the 'aw' interior combination in my accent. I am going to have to listen carefully when other people talk now to see if I can detect different pronuncations around here!

21
October 22, 2013 12:05 PM

If you hadn't included Falk (as in Peter Falk,) I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between the two grouos, as I say them all the same, and they sound like your first group.

22
October 18, 2013 1:53 PM

It's pretty short, so it's not going to be "accurate", per se, but it did categorize my accent as The West: "Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta." This is broadly accurate, as I am actually from the West, but I had a 96% match to that accent, compared to a 95% match to the Midlands, and 75% to Boston -- which is totally not my accent, to the point that I sometimes find it difficult to understand people using it.

The last question on the quiz is bugging me, though. Are there actually people who pronounce "bag" and "vague" with similar vowels?? If so, which word gets mangled? Or is it both? I mean, for me, the one has the vowel of "sat", the other of "say", and I just can't imagine conflating those sounds!

23
October 18, 2013 2:10 PM

It is the Chicago accent.  I don't care for it, but it is quite familiar to me.  Thankfully, I haven't picked it up!  The short a in bag is pronounced as a long a, believe it or not, so bag sounds like vague.

 

24
October 18, 2013 3:30 PM

Hmmm....looking back at those with results of the inland north accent, I'm wondering how you answered that last question.  To me, I can hear it so clearly as a strictly " Chicago" accent, but maybe I'm wrong.  Those of you who got that said you've not been to Chicago or spent much time in that area.  Makes me wonder how accurate the test is.

25
October 18, 2013 4:16 PM

I got the Chicago results (96%) on the first test despite pronouncing bag and vague differently. 

26
By EVie
October 18, 2013 4:02 PM

Both of those tests were wildly inaccurate for me. The first one say Boston (but I definitely pronounce the Rs in "Harvard" and don't use those flat As), the second said the West (but I don't have the Mary/marry/merry merger). I'm from New York, which didn't even seem to be an option on the first test. Though of course, I don't have a stereotypical New York accent, either, which really is a Brooklyn/Queens/Long Island accent (that accent pronounces "cot" and "caught" differently, and I say them the same). I would probably characterize my accent as generically Northeastern (which was an option on the first test, but I couldn't figure out what answers I would have to give to get it). 

27
December 16, 2013 8:08 PM

I also got Boston for the first and I got Neutral for the second. As another New Yorker who certainly doesn't have the stereotypical Brooklyn, etc. accent, I think it's interesting that we both were pegged with Boston accents. I also disliked the "horrible" question; my pronunciation of the "o" is not consistent, sometimes it's an "o," sometimes more of an "a." The same goes for "forest," "orange," and "Florida."

28
By EVie
December 18, 2013 10:47 AM

Interesting, I think I'm inconsistent on the o in "horrible" etc. as well—depends how fast I'm speaking and who I'm talking to. I think I tend toward the "o" sound, but sometimes will slip into the "a."

I think that most of these accent quizzes just don't acknowledge that there is a New York accent other than the Brooklyn/Long Island one. Then again, it's true of Boston, too, and now that I think about it, most of my friends from Boston don't have the Haaavaaad Yaaad accent and probably sound pretty similar to me.

29
October 21, 2013 3:44 PM

Hm. The first quiz said I have an Inland North accent (100%), with The Midland (80%) and The Northeast (76%) being the two runners up, despite the fact that I've lived in the Northeast (western MA [not Boston] and upstate NY my whole life), and though I've traveled a bit I've never been to the Inland North.

The second quiz said I have a Northern accent, which is closer to what I would expect. I live very close to the NY/MA border, so the Western New England part of the Northern accent makes sense to me.

I also find myself talking differently when I've spent a lot of time with someone who has a different accent (I wouldn't say I pick up the accent though, because what comes out of my mouth usually sounds very different from either the way I usually speak or the way the other person speaks). For example, I once spent a week in Ireland in a program that ended with being interviewed on Irish TV and I always cringe when I watch the tape of the interview. It sounds to me like my accent was a weird mash-up of the brogue and my usual accent -- I'm sure people either thought I was making fun (totally wasn't!) or that I talked weird (definitely did). To this day though, if I'm around anyone with an Irish brogue, I find myself doing it again ... my T's come out differently, my sentences have a weird lilt and rhythm to them, I start phrasing things the way my addled brain seems to think the Irish phrase things ... I met a new mom at school from Ireland just recently, and heard myself doing it again. She sounds just lovely when she speaks; I do not.

Not to belabor the Irish thing, but I spent a semester in Ireland a few years previous to the incident I mentioned above, and one of my friends' flatmates was an Irish guy who made fun of the American accent one night when drunk. He sounded exactly like he was from Texas, even though all the Americans he'd been exposed to in real life up to that point were from the Northeast USA.

30
December 12, 2013 5:56 PM

I got Inland North. It says: 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.

I've lived in Zimbabwe, Africa (as a tiny baby) South Africa, Indianna, Nebraska and currently in Oklahoma. I do indeed say pop though.