Saturday, February 10, 2007

Regionally Ambiguous

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Midland
The Inland North
Philadelphia
Boston
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Well, this certainly isn't the first time I've taken an online quiz and laughed at the results. Not necessarily because it's wrong. I do live in the Northeast of the United States. However, Boston is one of the options and I live just outside the city. I've lived in Massachusetts my whole life (time living in England after college excepted). But, I seemingly do not have a Boston accent.

And yet, why should I figure that the cold electronic blips that compile a likely result from a series of mouse clicks would be any more accurate than the human ear? My entire life people have asked me where I'm from after hearing me speak. Usually they want to peg me as being from Connecticut or Western New York state. I don't know why. I've never been to Albany and all I know of Connecticut is that I have to drive through it to get to New York. It is an odd experience to be "from the neighborhood" and yet not "from the neighborhood" because you stand out the moment you open your mouth.

In fact, when I went to college, the only times anyone pegged me as being from Massachusetts were those occasions I got too drunk to remember to pronounce the r's at the end of my words and then peppered my sentences the word "wicked" as my choice modifier: "Dude, I'm wicked drunk! Where's the cah?" Then I may as well have had a big Red Sox logo or something tatooed to my forehead. I was Identified.

Of course, when you grow up hearing language pronounced a certain way - regardless of how you may pronounce it - you don't really notice any strong regional variances until you go away for a while and then come back. When I came home from college, I realized that my dad had a glaring accent while my mother did not. Maybe that's why I don't have one. Who knows? But, boy, I realized that my friends from high school sure did. It actually became a little hard to listen to and may have been one small factor that contributed to me drifting away from them. That and 223 miles and their refusal to visit after the first time; they'd decided that the new, more accent free crowd I was hanging out with in college were rich snobs. The ability to pronounced your r's and not describe the basketball game as "wicked pissah" equals more money? Who knew? I was dismayed that they chose to pass judgement in that way, but then I thought about difficulties I had had when trying to fit in growing up. Did I come across as some kind of snob in my little hometown because I didn't sound like everyone else?

Oddly enough, I live even closer to Boston now than I did then. As the population has expanded and become more diverse, you hear all kinds of accents native to Boston and otherwise. My lack of accent stands out less now. Although my awareness of it is still there, particularly when I find myself around co-workers or friends that speak in more traditionally accented speech. I am more comfortable opening my mouth to speak. Regardless of what I say or how it sounds, people are going to think whatever it is they're going to think. In the end, it is less about accent and more about state of mind.

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7 comments:

Ari said...

I got "The West" which specifically states that it's a non-accent and that I'm probably from somewhere like Dallas.

However, I find that my accent varies depending on several factors like the accents of people around me, whether or not I'm angry, or whether I've just listened to a lot of country music immediately before.

Amandarama said...

Yeah, mine varies depending on how drunk I am. I would often get stuff that ranged from "Are you from the Midwest?" to "Was your dad in the Army?" growing up. Sometimes I like to play up the bland just to fuck with people. I have a lot of free time on my hands.

Dave Morris said...

The one accent I dislike is southern. When I lived in North Carolina as a kid, I picked it up pretty badly... plural things are sometimes singularized, (ten cent, five dolluh) and stuff like that.

It took me about 3 months to lose the accent.

Trevor Record said...

Heh, Boston accents. I would like the, er ah, pahty plattah!

(I got Midland, but I am from Canada so the test probably isn't meant for me.)

Steven Novak said...

You say "wicked?"

That's wicked sad. ;)

Steve~

Violet said...

I like the word "wicked." Most of my family lives in Rhode Island and Connecticut, and when I am up there, I pick up the accent pretty quickly, including using the word "wicked."

I took the survey and it was exactly right. It said I'm 100% Midland, which is where I really am. Amazing that an internet survey got something right!

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I've been trying to extinguish my Chicago accent for 20 years.

Not much luck yet.