December 26th, 2013

Where are you guys from?

Or where are y’all from, if you’re from the South.

I took the test and it pegged me quite accurately. It said that I’m from New York City (alternatives, Yonkers or Newark). I guess you can take the girl out of New York but you can’t take New York out of the girl.

[Hat tip: BenK at Ace’s.]

69 Responses to “Where are you guys from?”

  1. parker Says:

    I am from Western Appalachian ancestors who relocated to the upper midwest after WW2. That’s how I talk you all. Yeah buddy, yeah man.

  2. q Says:

    where I come from we spell it yawl – which was not an option on the survey


  3. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    It seems to depend on where you were when you were young and first learned terms and their pronunciations. I was born in Detroit in 1949, but we moved to Los Angeles in 1962, and we’ve lived here since then, for over 50 years. The test results had three cities (one of which was Grand Rapids) which placed me somewhere in the Michigan area. BINGO.
    I am familiar with a lot of the terms I don’t use as my default term, and there are others I’ve never heard of. If the test were expanded, especially with terms such as what you hear most often from other people in daily life, about the basic things such as gym shoes, drinking fountains, freeways, and so on, you might get where they have spent most of their life.

    It might also depend on your age. Those who are younger, and have had TV, movies, cable, and the Internet in their lives, might use more national terms and be much harder to pin down.

    Still, they placed me pretty well.

  4. Bill West Says:

    This survey says that I’m most likely from Chicago, which is true. It says that I could be from Detroit.

    It also shows that a lot of Chicagoans and Detroiters have moved to the Tucson area. Not a bad idea on a cold day.

    Thanks, Neo.

  5. stu Says:

    I was placed in Richmond,VA, 90 miles from my residence in Virginia Beach. There are some subtle differences in our dialect in what is referred to as the Tidewater section of Virginia.

  6. physicsguy Says:

    It really doesn’t know where to put me. Not surprising, as I grew up in Denver, spent some graduate time in Georgia, and now have lived 30 years in New England. It said either Salt Lake City or Rochester NY.. 🙂

    An example of how I have changed: carbonated beverage; growing up and when I was in college it was “pop”; now I say “soda”, and really notice when I go back to Colorado how I’ve lost many of those terms.

  7. Mr. Frank Says:

    It put me in Cleveland where I grew up.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    My personal experience would agree with Minta Marie Morze. Born in CT, moved to Mass. when I was one, we left for Miami @ 7, moved to SoCal @ 21.

    Map identified me in the greater NY area. However my Dad in his formative years was raised in the Bronx, which I suspect influenced and reinforced pronunciations for me.

  9. blert Says:

    My map picked up not only where I’m at and spent my teen years,.. but spotted my parents neck of the woods, too.

    Now we can see what meta-data in the hands of the NSA is capable of driving towards…

    Stuff that does not seem relevant gives away a TON of information.

  10. Tonawanda Says:

    It correctly pegged me from Buffalo (alternative was nearby Rochester).

    Although I have lived in NYC and Boston and was familiar with some variations (pop/soda, Mary/merry/marry) I had never realized that the word “sneakers” is used almost only in Buffalo and virtually no place else.

  11. expat Says:

    It pegged me as Baltimore/Washington, which is about 60 miles east of where I grew up. I went to college in Baltimore and then lived for about 7 years in Philly, which is also in my red area. They probably preferred Balt/Wash for me because I use sub instead of hoagie.

  12. Sgt. Mom Says:

    Didn’t come close, in my case; it pegged me as lower mid-west and deep South. But I grew up in Los Angeles, with very strongly English-accented grandparents, served in the military all over, and have lived in Texas since 1993. In my case, missed everything clean, and spotted me in places that I had never been near, and that my parents and grandparents had never been near.

  13. waltj Says:

    Since I’ve lived all over the place as an adult, and have thus learned a number of different terms for the same thing, I defaulted to the word that I would have used as a kid. The survey put me in one of three places: Detroit (where I’m actually from); Baltimore (I lived in the Washington, DC area for a while, so this is close), and Jacksonville, FL (no idea how this happened, since I’ve never lived there). Interesting survey.

  14. neo-neocon Says:


    When I was growing up, “sneakers” is what they were called in New York City.

  15. vanderleun Says:

    Well my hotttest spot was around Sacramento California with warm areas in LA and Chico so I’d have to say it pegged me.

  16. expat Says:

    Sneakers (Keds in blue or white for girls) were also worn in my neck of the woods. They were also called sneaks, as in “have you seen my sneaks?” In a shoe store you asked for sneakers.

  17. neo-neocon Says:


    You asked for sneakers and you got Keds, almost certainly white (although I seem to recall they also came in red or navy blue).

  18. rickl Says:

    I took the dialect quiz Tuesday night and took it again Wednesday morning because I wanted to check something. Guess what? Several of the questions were different. Apparently there’s a larger ‘pool’ of questions but you just get 25 each time you take the quiz.

    On Tuesday night two of the questions were about the large sandwiches and the night before Halloween. I chose “hoagie” and “Mischief Night” which are terms found almost exclusively in the Philly/South Jersey region. So that result pegged me very strongly in the Philly area, which is correct. I’ve lived here most of my life.

    But Wednesday morning’s quiz omitted the sandwich question, so the results were more diffuse. That map had a lot of yellow in the South, which is odd because I’ve never been in the South. It listed one of the three cities as Baltimore, which makes sense because both of my parents were from Maryland, so I undoubtedly picked up some things from them.

    I was born in Ohio, but Ohio showed light blue in both results. I guess I’ve lost most of my Midwesternisms.

    One interesting tidbit: I was originally taught to say “tennis shoes” but I remember consciously changing it to “sneakers” when I got a little older. Sure enough, “sneakers” is very dominant in the Northeast where my family moved. I was trying to fit in with the other kids in my new home.

  19. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    I took the test three times — once a couple of days ago when I saw it someplace else, and then twice just now — giving different answers each time because there were so many questions with more than one response that I couldn’t choose among. For instance, I say yard sale, garage sale and tag sale interchangeably; I’ve said sub, hero and grinder at different times, depending where I lived; and although I usually say “crayfish” now, I can remember calling them crawfish and crawdads as a kid in Maryland (and getting my toes pinched by the critters under any name!)

    Interestingly, making different choices didn’t have a big effect on the results. Every time, the quiz accurately identified my upstate New York roots and that childhood sojourn in Maryland and completely missed later years in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts. And each time it came up with one dead-wrong choice: once Arkansas (maybe that was “crawdad”?) once Providence, RI, and once Yonkers (??) Right or wrong, it’s fascinating stuff –does anyone really say “wally peenie” instead of lightning bug or firefly? And I never knew there was such a thing as a drive-through liquor store!

  20. rickl Says:

    I like that it gives an option of “I have no word for this” on several questions. I used it for the grass strip between the sidewalk and street. It’s just part of my lawn and I have to mow it; that’s all I know.

    I also used it for the small road that is parallel to the main road. I’ve seen them in my travels, but we don’t have them around here and I don’t know what to call it.

    And I thought it was funny that one of the choices on the drive-through liquor store question was “I have never heard of such a thing”. I picked that one too, because while I have heard of them, I have no direct experience with them. They certainly don’t exist in Pennsylvania.

  21. I Callahan Says:


    It pegged me in Michigan to a tee. Even though I had a number of “I have no particular name” answers…

  22. rickl Says:

    I tried Mrs. Whatsit’s idea and took the test again, this time using “tennis shoes” and “sub” for the sandwich (I remember that word before I moved to the Philadelphia area, but I don’t remember having actually eaten one). I answered most of the other questions the same as I did earlier.

    This time my three cities were Baltimore, Greensboro, NC, and Winston-Salem, NC. That’s weird, because I’ve never been to the latter two. It also had yellow and orange in California, and I’ve never been there, either. That’s more understandable, since CA has so many residents who came from somewhere else.

    I must have picked up some Southernisms from someplace, but God knows where. Maybe I was a Confederate soldier in a past life.

    And Ohio, my birthplace, still shows up as light blue.

  23. rickl Says:

    I forgot to mention in my 8:04 comment that I answered the night before Halloween question with “I have no word for this” because that was the case before my family moved to the Philly area.

    Being the nice kid from the Midwest that I was, I never did go out and do anything mischievous on Mischief Night.

  24. gpc31 Says:


    You nailed it, I mean the power of metadata.

  25. A_Nonny_Mouse Says:

    I’ve tried taking the darn thing 3 times – I go thru and answer all the questions, then it pauses to calculate the map – and then it just. plain. stops.

    (Maybe it doesn’t have coordinates for Alpha Centauri…?)

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    Should be more of an interactive audio test.

    They had me along the southeastern side of the Appalachians, mainly metro politan areas.

    But also up near Maine.

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    Mrs Whatsit, I’m a big believer in audio tests. The word itself doesn’t matter so much as the inflection and the combination of different phrases and context clues. A better test by my standards would see whether people “understood” a phrase from certain dialects, instead of predicting what dialect a person had from what words they used.

    Word selection is not as important as the academics wish it to be.

  28. carl in atlanta Says:

    It placed me in Birmingham AL, Montgomery AL or Jackson MS rather than in Atlanta. Maybe that’s because ATL is no longer culturally (or linguistically) Southern? Hell, lots of folks say it’s no longer part of Georgia!

  29. The Real Jeff Says:

    It nailed me as being from Minneapolis/St Paul but also said I could be from Buffalo or Rochester NY

  30. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Put me in Detroit, which was a different city 50 yrs ago.

  31. southpaw Says:

    Didn’t get close, which wasn’t surprising. I was raised outside Buffalo, lived in Oregon, Kentucky and now Texas all for a number of ears. I use so many of the tell tale terms and pronunciations interchangeably, I doubt anyone could identify my dialect anymore, least of all me.

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    The Real Jeff:

    It’s your doppelgänger The Fake Jeff who’s from Buffalo.

  33. cirrus Says:

    I grew up in Kansas (1-8) and New Jersey (9-17). Subsequently, I lived for varying periods in IA, ND, CA, PA, NJ (again), ME, and AZ. One parent grew up in IA and the other in various upper mid west locations. I never got a consistent result from the quiz. Among its suggestions: Stockton, CA; Albuquerque; Glendale, AZ; Wichita; Pittsburgh; Salt Lake City; Santa Rosa, CA; Fremont, CA; Chandler/Gilbert AZ, Honolulu (?!); San Jose, Ca; Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Tucson, Dallas. The incidence of far west locales is wildly disproportionate to the time I actually spent in those areas.

    My wife, on the other hand, was born in the Bronx and was raised and subsequently lived (until recently) exclusively in the Newark, Clifton, and Bloomfield, NJ area. The quiz came up with Newark/Paterson – dead on. I’m surprised it didn’t name the streets.

    The quiz seems to have difficulty with peripatetic types.

  34. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Not even close.
    Paterson/Newark, Baltimore, Arlington.
    Began speaking in Norwich, CT, in eastern CT. My father’s home town. My mother’s speech pattern was southern Ohio–her parents–filtered through Buffalo, Providence, and Springfield, MA upbringing.
    Moved to the Detroit area at five and grew up in Michigan.
    Kind of liked sticking with AHNT, LAHG, AHRANGE FRAHG, FAHG, softening terminal R.
    A joke in parts of New England that a particular brand of car dealer wants his signs to read HONDER so the locals will pronounce it properly.
    Were it spelled properly, it would be pronounced HONDER.
    Used to be a linguist in Britain who claimed to nail your birthplace within ten miles after a few minutes of conversation. Might have been true when people didn’t move much and received or other pronunciation wasn’t coming in by television and radio.
    Recall an interview with an educated Alabamian ca 1944. Compared to today, nearly unintelligible. Imagine the folks up in the hollers back then.

  35. OlderandWheezier Says:

    I usually say “sneakers” now, but growing up the usual term was pronounced “tenny shoes.”

  36. rickl Says:

    Richard Aubrey Says:
    December 26th, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Used to be a linguist in Britain who claimed to nail your birthplace within ten miles after a few minutes of conversation. Might have been true when people didn’t move much and received or other pronunciation wasn’t coming in by television and radio.

    The Sherlock Holmes stories were kind of like that. He could tell where your shoe was manufactured by looking at your footprint. Nowadays, not so much.

  37. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    I’ve rarely heard anything but “sneakers,” in a lifetime spent wandering the Northeast. Some people do say “tennis shoes,” or so I understand, but what sense does that make, if you aren’t going to wear them to play tennis?

    What I miss is “you all.” That was a gentle, inclusive acquisition from early years below the Mason Dixon line that I had to give up — or be laughed at — when we moved back north. It was so kind and useful. I liked it. Why can’t we chilly Northerners have a plural second person that’s more dignified than the adolescent “you guys”?

  38. rickl Says:

    rickl Says:
    December 26th, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    The Sherlock Holmes stories were kind of like that. He could tell where your shoe was manufactured by looking at your footprint. Nowadays, not so much.

    OK, if the stories were written today, maybe he could tell which factory in China made them.

  39. rickl Says:

    Mrs. Whatsit:

    When I took the quiz, I used “you” and “you guys”, which are the phrases I grew up with. But in real life, I have adopted “you all” or “y’all”, which are actually very useful.

  40. J.J. Says:

    I’ve lived in multiple places over the years. 10 different states but mostly in the west and north of the Mason Dixon although I’ve lived in Texas, Florida, and Arkansas at one time or another. Salt Lake City, Reno, and Stockton, Ca. were the cities and that fits the western tilt of my life.

    blert has it right. Metadata is our new nosy neighbor.

  41. Charles Says:

    Bummer, my browser is out of date so I cannot take the test.

    Oh, well, let me put on my “sneakers.” I have to go out to the store. While there, I won’t need a “shopping cart” as I only need to get some “cawfee” for morning breakfast.

    Maybe on the way back I’ll stop at the “package store” to get a six-pack to wash down that “hoagie” that I’ll have for “supper.”

    The weather forecast is calling for snow; so I might have to shovel snow this time of year; but, at least I don’t have to “mow” the lawn.

    Hope “you all” have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  42. Aarradin Says:

    That test pegged me: said I was closest to Boston, Providence, RI and Worcester, MA. I grew up in a town near the center of that triangle.

  43. Ellen Says:

    I’m from Kentucky and it turned out quite accurate as to the way I speak. I’ve always said caramel with three syllables and it wasn’t till the food network came to the cable that I heard the word with only two syllables.

  44. Bernard Says:

    I was born in Washington state, grew up in northern California, went to graduate school in Missouri and Ohio and have lived in the Northeast for 40 years. I took the test a month ago and it determined I was most likely from Texas. I took it twice today (about 3 questions changed) and it determined I was most likely from New Mexico or Minnesota the first time and Iowa, Minnesota or Ohio the second time. It seems the key words/phrases were “frontage road” “tree lawn” and “pop.” I guess I moved around too much.

  45. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I’m in Michigan. We don’t have “service roads” unless one happens to run parallel to the freeway for a bit before crossing or veering off.
    What we do have is “surface roads”, which are ordinary streets paralleling urban expressways and sometimes on the “surface” (original grade level) as opposed to the expressway which may run twenty feet below grade level.
    I hadn’t noticed “service roads” until I got to MO and TX and a couple of other places. Kind of too bad. They extend retail–sometimes failing retail, and strip clubs and bars and used car lots–far into the countryside.
    Point is, I know “service roads” because I’ve traveled by car some distance, not because of where I was raised.

  46. SteveH Says:

    It pegged me near mid Georgia where I’m from. Curiously it didn’t have “tenny shoes” which is of course the correct name for all athletic foot wear. 🙂

  47. q Says:

    I’m not that amazed. Ask the right 20 questions and you can peg a lot of things about a lot of people.

    The number of questions illustrates American diversity. I would not be surprised to discover that there are hundreds of questions, and each answer takes you along a path (eliminating many questions found other paths).

    if correct, the first few questions are most important…

  48. DavidC Says:

    Apparently I moved around too much growing up, this thing had no idea where to put me, beyond west of the Mississippi.

  49. mezzrow Says:

    Bang on for me. I grew up in north Florida, but learned to speak from my mother, who grew up in central Alabama. Alabama in my map is as red as a certain football team, with B’ham, Montgomery, and Mobile highlighted. I find that the answers reflect more how I learned to speak these words than how I may now pronounce them.

  50. Oblio Says:

    I’m writing from Martha’s Vineyard. Imagine my surprise seeing my “accent” triangulated by Shreveport, Jackson, and Baton Rouge. I need to change my handle to “Duck Dynasty.” Luckily, my visiting in-laws from Connecticut have not discovered my secret.

  51. LisaM Says:

    It pegged me based on one answer, I think. I’ve lived all over the country so I thought it might have more trouble, but it nailed it.

  52. Eric Says:


    I’m having the same problem as A_Nonny_Mouse. I finish the questionnaire and the NY Times program freezes before giving me a verdict.

    I always thought I spoke with a neutral accent until one day in the Army, I said “library” and my buddies laughed at me, saying I was obviously from NYC. I had no idea what was odd about my pronunciation until they pointed that I said “library” with the 1st ‘r’ almost silent. To them, it was an obvious tell. I had no idea.

  53. Gringo Says:

    The test had me pegged as SF Bay and New England/Providence. As I spent the first half of my life in NE, that part of the test was accurate. As with LisaM, I suspect one or maybe two answers for pegging me as NE. I have spent the latter half of my life in TX, which didn’t show strong on the analysis, though I did choose “y’all” or some such.

    While I spent a year in Berserkeley in my dropout hippie activist days, I doubt that is the reason I was pegged as SF Bay. After all, the only unique phrasing I learned there was to cry “pig” to anyone who didn’t agree with my political views. 🙂 I suspect that the SF Bay is the fallback generic US-speak place in the questionnaire. For many of the questions, I replied “haven’t heard any of these terms,” which I suspect would be a generic US-speak reply for questions like the ones about the doodlebug or the drive-in liquor store. Or drive in package store/drive in packie, as I would have said in New England.

  54. Eric Says:

    I wonder how much pop cultural media such as TV, movies, and now the Internet have flattened regional dialects and accents.

    When I was a soldier, friends and family at home would sometimes comment that I seemed to have picked up traces of a southern accent, though I think that’s gone away since I left the Army.

  55. Sam L. Says:

    Where I’m from and where I live are similar, but the test fails me.

  56. Dan D Says:

    The test gave me a very definitive result, strongly oriented to Central Pennsylvania, leaning in the Philadelphia direction. Fortunately I was redding up around here and had my computer plugged into the wall socket instead of using a drag cord, an ‘nat. Didn’t know Amish Appalachia was a region, did ya?

  57. NeoConScum Says:

    Test nailed me with no apparent difficulty. California. Southwest. West.

    Baa-Daa-Bing, Guilty. Nearly lifelong So. Californian. Now living in Central Florida.

  58. Sgt. Mom Says:

    I went out and gave some very carefully considered answers again – and this time ended up in Central California – Bakersfield and Modesto, and one more. Still not very close to where I grew up.
    I agree with some of the other commenters – that if you went all over the place later on, the results are apt to be so variable as not to be useful at all.

  59. sbruce45 Says:

    I found the test at this site more accurate:

  60. Ymarsakar Says:

    The actual locations are mere guesses based on proximate statistics.

    The area map of colors is where the most attention should be paid.

  61. Allan Says:

    Tried the test for a laugh and it pegged me as from New York or Boston.

    I’m actually from rural Australia. What does this say about me then?

  62. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    It placed me here in Wisconsin, with the possibility of being from Minneapolis.

  63. waltj Says:

    I’m actually from rural Australia. What does this say about me then?

    That you picked up your Americanisms from East Coast Yanks? Lots of them around, since that’s a densely-populated part of the US, and many of them have been in the media/movies, so it’s likely that you would have encountered their lingo, even in never-never.

  64. Gringo Says:

    Tried the test for a laugh and it pegged me as from New York or Boston.I’m actually from rural Australia. What does this say about me then?

    It says that of the various accents of English spoken in the US, the English spoken in the New York-New England area comes closest to sounding like the English spoken in Australia.

  65. Gringo Says:

    That should have been “waltj” instead of Allan.

  66. Gringo Says:

    I better quit while I’m behind.

  67. waltj Says:

    Nah, you’re doing fine, Gringo. Regarding Allan’s question, I’ve lived in Australia, and the English spoken in the NY/New England area really didn’t seem that close to “Strine” to me, in terms of either accent or word usage, which is what the survey was asking about. But that’s my opinion; I’m no expert.

  68. Gringo Says:

    I’ve lived in Australia, and the English spoken in the NY/New England area really didn’t seem that close to “Strine” to me, in terms of either accent or word usage, which is what the survey was asking about.

    Say that Australian English is rated at 100, and average US English in terms of similarity to Australian English is rated at 10. NY/NE English could be rated at 20-30: still not very similar to Australian English, but the closest you could get in the US to Australian English.

    Also note that NY/NE, being the closest former colonial port areas to mother England, would have been more likely than other parts of the US to have changed its English in tandem with changes in the mother country- which would later tie to Australia. Whereas, the rest of the US would have been more likely to have preserved archaic ways of speaking English which had subsequently been abandoned in mother England.

    Listen to this speech by Theodore Roosevelt. TR was from an old-line NYC Dutch family. Sounds rather British to me, which supports my hypothesis that the NY/NE area had a greater tendency than the rest of the US to follow speech trends in mother England.
    Which helps explain why NY/NE speech comes closest of all US speech patterns- while admittedly not very close- to Australian speech.

  69. Surellin Says:

    The quiz pegged me as either from the Nebraska-Iowa border or from northern Ohio. The latter is correct.

    And btw that strip of land between the street and the sidewalk is called the “city strip”. That’s the actually, true official name for it – in northern Ohio. 🙂

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