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What Kind of Accent Do You Have?

What kind of accent do you have? While growing up in Michigan, my brother, sister and I picked up slight Michigan accents. We’d say things like “maahm” instead of “mom,” and “caehr” instead of “car,” and “Bab” instead of “Bob.” After living in New York for twelve years, I’ve basically lost it, but sometimes when I drink too much wine, it can randomly bust out again. Yes, Michigan!

George Mason University collects speech samples from around the world, and everyone has to read this paragraph: “Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.”

Have you taken the fascinating dialect quiz that has spread like wildfire online? What answer did you get? (It pinpointed that I was from Michigan.) And in the video above, actress Amy Walker does 24 different accents (some are better than others). The California one made me laugh out loud.

What kind of accent do you have?

P.S. What British people say versus what they really mean, and Toby in conversation.

(Speech archive found by the brilliant Kottke)

  1. It’s funny that I keep getting mostly alabama (jackson, ms/birmingham, al/colombus, ga the first time and mobile, al/montgomery, al/jackson, ms the second time) but I’m in texas/canada lol

  2. Although my native language is Russian, people say they can’t place my accent. Some say I could probably be from Britain

  3. I’ve spent half my life in one state, the other half in another. The quiz picked areas in between them, not bad.

    Texas has definitely messed with some of my mannerisms and speech: I say y’all now, my accent is pretty neutral though I do say some things strangely, for some words I have various pronounciations of, and I leave out the ‘u’ in words now.

    Ex: Before I would go with colour instead of color, the-ate-er instead of thete-er for theater, etc.

  4. Yeah, she definitely missed the Toronto accent. I’m Canadian and have been all over the country and never met someone who talks like that. People from Eastern Canada definitely have an accent, but it’s much more subtle.

  5. Native New Yorker. The Dialect Quiz got me spot on

  6. Wow that’s really impressive! I never realized there was much of a difference between Seattle and LA accents (I live near Seattle). I think the only one I can object to is the Torontonian one; never heard someone from TO talk like that.

    • Kristien says...

      I’ve always liked things like this, accents are fun! Being from SC and having lived in Charleston for several years, her Charleston accent was totally incorrect. You’ll still find some older folks who have the drawl, but no-one under 60 talks that way anymore. Contrary to what some people think, it’s not “Gone With the Wind” down here. This was very entertaining, though!

  7. Her Toronto needs some serious work…

  8. I was born and raised in New Jersey…I never thought I had an accent until I went to college at NYU, when everyone could immediately tell I was from North Jersey! Words like coffee (“caw-fee”), dog (“dawg”), talk (“tawk”) give it away.

  9. I’ve lived in some of these places and her accents are a little overdone.

  10. em says...

    love it! I’m from Indiana, which maybe comes out similar to Michigan but a bit softer and more nasal? Apparently I’ve also lost it after years living in Saudi Arabia.

  11. Good grief, Torontonians don’t sound like that! And we say Trawna, not Tor-on-to. Jeez.

  12. Well, her accents aren’t too bad–but Texas and Carolina weren’t too good. Heard a lot of both and she didn’t have enough drawl for them!

  13. I took the test and it told me im from New York. Or my accent is from there.
    which is what people usually guess when I speak anyway, so thats all good. :)

  14. I’m a New Zealander living in New Zealand and it thinks I’m from New York!

  15. That’s crazy! I got Chicago and I’m a Chicagoan:)

  16. The quiz got me perfectly – it named NYC and even pinpointed the NJ city I was born in!

  17. Canadians certainly sound nothing like that! In her video it sounded more like an exaggerated version of what people THINK Canadians sound like…

    Being from Alberta, I think I most identified with her Seattle accent the most… Sorta close!

  18. I’m Australian so the quiz didn’t really work for me. Maybe if I’d chosen the horribly Australian word “youse” in the first question the result may have been different, but I can’t stand that word! There were quite a few questions that I had to select “Other” as the answer as the word that I’d use wasn’t on the list ie. a Drive Through is what we call a liquor store that you well, drive through, but it wasn’t on the list!
    I do, however, live in the San Francisco Bay Area and that’s where the quiz decided that my accent is from. I definitely don’t sound American though. In fact, to most people I probably don’t even sound Australian. In the two years that I’ve lived in the US I’ve maybe had 3 people correctly guess that I’m Australian. Most people guess that I’m English as the part of Australia that I’m from doesn’t have the over the top Aussie accent (like the ones in the video).
    Actually, even though I’m Australian I always thought those horrible over the top Aussie accents (once again, like the ones from the video) were completely fictitious – until I moved to Sydney in my early 20s and discovered otherwise!

  19. I find accents to be so fascinating. I grew up just outside of Chicago but have been in Kansas City (the land of no accent) for 11 years now. I thought my nasal-y dialect had pretty much left me but it sneaks out now and again.

    In college, I lived in Montreal for the summer and while I was working with some kids at a church one asked me why I prayed to ‘Gad’ and everyone else prayed to ‘God.’ Whoops, sorry for messing up your theology, kiddo!

    http://sugarsugarhouse.com/2014/01/17/the-rocks-dropped/

  20. Born and raised and still living in Oregon but the test keeps generating Northern California cities (I’ve taken it three times. Obsessed!). My mother was born and raised in Northern California though and I have spent a lot of time there with my family, so I guess it’s not totally off. I’m a bit surprised that it seems to be so exact for everyone else though

  21. I love showing that accents video to my theater class! I love throwing them for a loop and asking them to perform a character or scene with an accent. Fun stuff!

    EmiliaMcG.blogspot.com

  22. Being from 1.5 hrs away from Toronto, we definitely don’t sound like that! We can definitely adopt that kind of an accent to mock ourselves but it’s not heard in everyday life.

    Ashley Atkinson- I too always imagined Joanna’s voice being British! Though in my mind it was slight- as if it had worn off over time. …I think I have an overactive imagination.

  23. As an Australian, I’m generally very scornful of other countries attempting our accent but the first one was pretty accurate (the second one was over the top but made me laugh).

    I think she’s talented, accents are really challenging.

  24. Fellow Michigander here :). I’ve been in dc for almost 10 years, so it’s definitely subdued. If I spend more than a week at home it comes back! I wish it would stick around… I still refuse to say soda, pop all the way!

  25. Cute. Although I didn’t buy the Charleston accent at all! I wonder if that means that to any “native” speaker of one of those accents, she sounds just slightly off. Impressive range though!

  26. She’s good, but obviously needs to travel to Canada. As some of my other fellow Canadians have pointed out we, do not, sound like that. I am also a Maritimer & can say that some east coaster’s who are more isolated can sound similar to what she did, but it’s pretty much just a bad cliche of a Canadian accent and most definitely not a Torontonian accent.
    Now, if you want to hear a funny Cape Breton accent….follow this link.
    http://youtu.be/vGylDMu_0TU

  27. She’s good, but obviously needs to travel to Canada. As some of my other fellow Canadians have pointed out we, do not, sound like that. I am also a Maritimer & can say that some east coaster’s who are more isolated can sound similar to what she did, but it’s pretty much just a bad cliche of a Canadian accent and most definitely not a Torontonian accent.
    Now, if you want to hear a funny Cape Breton accent….follow this link.
    http://youtu.be/vGylDMu_0TU

  28. P.S. I just took the dialect quiz! It pinpointed where I was born, where I grew up, AND where I went to school! Um. That was awesome.

  29. Is that what we sound like in California??? That’s so funny.
    I’m on the phone with vendors from all over the country, and I always notice accents. But it’s so interesting to see how mine sounds compared to the others in that video.

    I took the dialect test and I got Southern California. It’s creepy accurate and so much fun.

  30. I use the Amy Walker video in ESL classes with advanced learners, as well as the George Mason site – both are great! – but I have to say that Walker’s Charleston accent in particular is atrocious. I’m from Charleston, and frankly I’ve never met an actual Southerner who sounded like that, much less a Charlestonian.

  31. I got Jackson, Baton Rouge and New Orleans! Funny enough I’m from the Basque Country ( Northern Spain), my father was Basque and my mother is from New Rochelle, N.Y.

  32. I’m sharing my Michigan accent love! Michigan accents are part of what’s called the Great Lakes regional accent, and it’s actually often perceived of as the “standard” form of English because of its historic use in many major, largely Chicago-based journalism schools (journalists were taught to read the news using the Great Lakes accent). So many people don’t hear the accent, because it sounds “normal.”

    Nonetheless, just say “pop” and you’ve outed yourself as a Michigander!

  33. I took the quiz a few weeks ago, and was so surprised that it put me right in my town, Modesto, CA. Also, I think Amy Walker nails the CA introduction accent :)

  34. I got New York in the dialect quiz, but I think I definitely sound a lot like Amy Walker’s CA accent (freaked me out a bit, actually) :-)

  35. Eerie! It nailed me as being from Santa Rosa, CA.

  36. I’m sure I have a bit of a midwest twang, but I definitely don’t say Bab instead of Bob. Ha. That dialect quiz put me in two places in California and Detroit. I do notice a much heavier Michigan accent on the westside of the state. My husband’s family says my name with a super hard nasally ‘a’ and skip the second ‘a’ so it sounds like NAAAdly.

  37. Joanna, you are a gem. Thanks so much for the virtual kiss and tips! I actually got a sun lamp about a month ago and it’s been helping a bit. I’m working on using it consistently in the mornings. Next step: Vitamin D! Sometimes knowing you aren’t the only one is just as powerful. Thanks for the link to your older post about battling the winter blues… I so appreciate it!

  38. Amazing video! I can’t believe how well she does those accents. The CA one was hilarious, spot on!

    When I did the quiz I got Kansas City and Mesa, AZ. I’ve never lived in either place, never even been to Kansas. I’m guessing it’s because my Grandpa is from Kansas. I live in the Bay Area, CA, but I grew up in SoCal, lived in CO, OR, Chicago, NYC, and North Carolina. Maybe the mix gave me my dialect? Very interesting! It was fun doing it!

  39. Took the quiz and got Buffalo & Rochester. Even though I am Canadian, this makes total sense because I grew up 20 mins from Buffalo, right on the border. So fun!

  40. I’m a native Texan, and most of us do not have that pronounced of an accent. I’m sure it was that way many years ago, but it’s pretty rare to find that heavy of a drawl now.

  41. Hmmm…quiz says I’m Southern California through and through. I grew up in the Bay Area, lived in North Carolina for 8 years, and am back in the Bay now. I’d like to know what the differences are between NorCal and SoCal. When I was in college people would ask me if I was Midwestern—which always seriously confused me. Made me think I had a hard to place “neutral” accent.

  42. I’m a total New Yorker! I sound exactly like where I’m from, south eastern New York state about 20 minutes up from the GW bridge. I loved going to Chicago a few years ago because people knew immediately I was a New Yorker. It was cool! =)

    Ergo-Blog

  43. Joanna, all this time, I had in my mind that you actually spoke with an English accent. I have no reason to think this way, other than just letting my mind wander as I read your posts. Question answered! =)

  44. I love this quiz! I took it a few days ago and even though I’ve been trying very hard to lose my slight New Yawk accent, my results still reflected it: New York, Yonkers, Newark. Oh, well…I Heart NY!

  45. Torontonians do not sound like that!! If you want the classic “hoser” accent like she’s apparently impersonating (such as Bob & Doug Mckenzie) you have to go up north. Even folks in the Maritime provinces don’t sound like that. Their accent is influenced by their Scottish and Irish ancestry and use hard “Rs” (aar) when they talk, which I love.

    I took the quiz a few weeks ago and got Buffalo, Rodchester & Worcester. :)

  46. The quiz got me spot on! I must talk like a true Midwestener. I heard this story on NPR yesterday. Very interesting stuff.

  47. Great post! Loved the video and the quiz is awesome! There were a few very specific questions that were like a bullseye to my state/area. I’ve never heard of anywhere else but Massachusetts/Rhode Island where they call a drinking fountain a bubbler, so, with that one question, they got 95% of the way there with me. I think the traffic/road questions, and associated distinctions, were the most interesting. A rotary in Massachusetts is most definitely a roundabout in other areas. Here, we call everything a truck, but I would bet in the South or in particular areas which rely on the big interstates for commerce traffic actually use the various distinctions to describe different types of trucks – like an 18 wheeler.

  48. You’re a part of the northern cities vowel shift!

  49. Well, I think being British screwed this up a bit. As I use lots of the British words, but then know the American terms now as I live here, so a bit mixed! I came out as Honolulu / Boston / Providence. Actually like the other Brit ‘Starryeyed’ who left a comment!!! So maybe it is correct!

  50. Love this post! Amy is super talented and I enjoyed her accents except COME ON, most Canadians do not speak that way! The main exception would be hockey players and commentators, who seem to have this very culturally specific hockey accent, which I would guess is where the stereotype comes from. Most Canadians I know sound much more like the Seattle or California accent.

  51. Yup, I’m straight up Jersey and proud :)

  52. My husband is from Michigan and even though he’s been in California for over 15 years his Michigan accent comes back when we visit his family in Michigan.

    And yeah, that online test was amazing, pinpointed me perfectly. I guess I talk like a Californian!

  53. I have experienced a similar thing as you- I grew up in Wisconsin (woohoo Midwest!) and gradually lost my accent as I went to college in Chicago. But it comes out when I’m mad (“Oh fer Pete’s saaake!”) or have drank a little wine, like you say. Ha. The accents here in Rhode Island (where I currently live) are so crazy! I had no idea they were so strong until I moved here. It’s hilarious watching the local news and local commercials- it’s very similar to a Boston accent but a tad different.

  54. Hm, I got Colorado Springs, Springfield, and Indianapolis..Truth is I am from Charleston, SC. People have always said I don’t have an accent and I guess this proves it?

  55. That 3rd Brit accent hasn’t been heard in the UK since Celia Johnson starred in Brief Encounter, some one has been watching a little too much Downtown!

  56. I’m from NYC, but people always make fun of the Britishisms in my accent because I’ve lived in the UK for five years.

    The researcher behind that quiz, Bert Vaux, is a good friend of mine–I love that it’s gone viral! He’s American and although he’s lived in the UK for years, he seems immune to picking up any Britishisms himself!

  57. Grand Rapids, Detroit, Cincinnati. Spot on— I live in GR!

  58. It was entirely precise! I was born in NY but have lived in South Florida/ Ft. Lauderdale for 23 years- and it pinpointed the SoFLa area of Ft. Lauderdale/ Miami/ and it’s suburbs for my accent! I was really curious about it, and really surprised how accurate it is.

  59. jm says...

    I came out grand rapids, detroit and Rockford – I am from the Detroit area. “Devels night” was the big give away. Good test.

  60. My parents are from Michigan but have lived in California for the past 20 years – after 2 glasses of wine or a few days back in MI my mom’s twang comes right back!

    Kirby
    http://www.theshortandthesweetofit.com

  61. Once again, an online quiz was spot on. I’ve lived in CA, NY, GA, but for the last 15 years I’ve been in MA, just outside of Boston, and sure enough, the quiz said Boston. I get a kick out of these things. Have you seen the one on Buzzfeed about which Downton Abbey character you are? Silly and funny, but what amazed me was that although I was surprised to find that I am Lord Grantham (say what?!), the description of my personality was quite accurate.

  62. Southern California accent — right where I am from

  63. In Southern Ontario (Toronto and area) we most often get told our accent is most similar to that of California. While travelling in Southeast Asia, we most often got asked if we were from Cali – mostly from Californians! The caricature of an accent that is put on to denote Canadians is absolutely ridiculous :( BUT, we do say “eh” – just not in the way everyone thinks we say it.

  64. Southern California accent — right where I am from

  65. Nasil-y, not basil-y!

  66. I’m from Michigan too, and I’ve spent the last seven years outside of Michigan – in Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and now Mississippi. I’m moving to Germany in May… needless to say, my accent is a little bit of a mix of everything. Though I will say this, the second I step off the plane at DTW my a’s get a whole lot more basil-y.

    My husband and I were in Scotland a few years ago in a touristy little shop trying to pick out a scarf for my stepmom and the shopkeep basically pounced on us asking where we were from. Turned out she was from Canada and she was so confused because we sounded Canadian, but not any Canadian she had ever heard before. I guess growing up near Detroit and the Canada border must have influenced our speech a little!

  67. Those accents were pretty good! Canada is a big country though…bigger than the U.S. so we don’t all have that accent, especially if we live in Toronto! Still funny though.

  68. Love this video! I think I fit the Seattle Accent the most but I was born in California (to Californian born and raised parents) and I lived in Maryland for 11 years and have been in North Carolina for 14. I’m sure I’ve picked up a little bit of a Southern dialect but I definitely don’t sound like I’m from the south.

  69. Oh you guys. Michigan and California, nailed it! Although I would not have guessed Amy’s accent as Southern Cal or LA at all. Fun quiz and will pass along.

  70. HA! That was an awesome video! Love all the differences from all over the world!

  71. katie, tennies!! you’re so right :)

  72. caitlin, sending you a kiss! i’ve heard that taking vitamin D can really help, and have you ever used a lightbox? they are amazing, you can actually feel yourself getting cheerier as you look into it: http://goo.gl/P1L6cT

  73. this was fascinating, although i think her charleston accent was more theatrical than real (but maybe we’re always the moot critical of the accents that we also share). the seattle one seemed spot on though.

    and mine was knoxville, chattanooga, nashville. having grown up in east tennessee, i’d say it was correct!

  74. I have a Nottingham (England) accent, it’s somewhere between northern and southern english… it’s basically a none accent x

  75. I’ve been reading for a while and didn’t know you grew up in Michigan! I love the honest nature of this space, so I’d love to ask a question. I recently moved to MI from Texas and am wondering if you have any tips for seasonal depression. These grey skies are killing me!

  76. I gave up using the term pop after my 2nd year in NYC, but I can’t ever seem to call athletic shoes “sneakers” they’ll always be tennis shoes (or tennies, as my mom says)! That quiz was spot on, I was born in Kansas but both my parents are Michiganders and we moved back when I was young. However, I still use the terms roly poly and lightning bug from childhood so I got Detroit and Overland Park KS!

  77. That quiz was really cool! I never knew Michigan had an accent until i was in college. Even now that I’ve lived out of state for awhile, I can’t give up pop.

  78. yes, clio and amanda, her accents are sometimes good (i thought she nailed california) and sometimes not quite right (italian and french are a bit off, i thought)….but still, so impressive to try 24 all in a row :)

  79. it’s funny how the quiz isn’t just about accents but also about words you use (highway vs. freeway, lightning bug vs. firefly). they did such a brilliant job with it.

  80. Californian born to a Southern mother–then spent 9 years living in the N.C. and S.C…so I mix in both “y’all” and “totally!” into my speech like some deranged Valley Girl Scarlet O’Hara. On the quiz I got “San Jose, Calif.”

    I lived in Charleston for a while and I have to say I’m not convinced by Amy’s Charleston accent (although I’m very impressed by the video). I think perhaps she is affecting an accent that was used more in the 60’s… very fun all the same!

  81. Yikes. Mine matched for New Jersey, Baltimore and Yonkers but I was born in Washington, DC and have lived here everyday of my life for 64 years!

  82. I just posted about this quiz earlier this week! I’ve straddled the line of a NY and a PA accent for the last few years. NY comes out the most when I’m talking fast haha

    That video was wild! I can’t even imagine being able to do 3 of those back to back.

  83. The chart is pretty accurate, Amy’s Scottish accent is waaaaaay off i’m afraid ;-)

  84. Dublin accent….or Dubbelin as it seems to sound to foreigners when I say it! I lived in Australia for a while & people were always asking me to say ‘bus’, ‘cup’ and ‘Dublin’ because their u sounds more like an a there. Dablin!

  85. That is awesome! It’s so interesting to see accents compared in that way.

    Also as a Michigander you have me repeating Mom and car in my head to see what the heck I say!

  86. People say I sound Russian… but I think it’s a slight (very, very slight!) speech impediment I have! Haha! :)

  87. This thing is amazing!! I was born in Philly, grew up in the Philly burbs and my adult life has been spent in the Newark, NJ area. It was spot on giving me Philadelphia and North Jersey!! LOL!!

  88. My Michigan accent comes out a lot too, hahaha. Do you want to go to the movies, errr no? My girls at work say I say things completely wrong sometimes, hahaha. Guess us Michiganders don’t have the best speech! Perhaps now that I’ve been in Cali for a couple years I’ll adopt an event lazier accent ;)

  89. I took this last week, it said I was from Detroit MI – dead on! :)

    Well, I’m from Southeast MI so yea. I definitely don’t say car how you spelled it though.

    My parents are both from Columbus OH so I grew up with people who talk like Ohioans (pretty similar but not quite MI) so I always think I don’t speak like a Michigander fully.

    It kind of gave me the creeps but the term for the night before Halloween – Devil’s night was a dead giveaway. It’s 100% southeast MI.

  90. Salt Lake City, Nailed it!

  91. The Toronto accent is ridiculous. I know no one who speaks like that. And no, RZY, not in Atlantic Canada, either.

  92. I got New Orleans, which is accurate since I grew up there. But also funny because I have consciously tried not to sound like it. Guess some things just cant be changed! Ha.

  93. She can do a lot more accents than I can but (sorry to be a nay-sayer) the Brooklyn accent is so off! I’m from Long Island and we definitely have our own thing going on as far as speech (I try to hide it at all times!). I think accents from the NY area are the toughest to copy believably. Overall, nice job Amy!

  94. Hmmm…. her Dublin and Belfast accents are very strange! The Belfast one starts off as a pretty good Dublin one and then whitters off into a strange hybrid of a Northern Irish and something else and I don’t know how to describe her actual attempt at a Dublin accent – but it’s a bit ‘oirish’ ‘begorrah’ off the tv in a very fake, 1950’s general accent that is very un-irish indeed!

  95. As a Torontonian I agree that we soud nothing like that. The accent in the Amy Walker video is more like a caricatured idea of what people think Canadians sound like. Maybe in some Atlantic provinces?

  96. I most identified with Seattle which I suppose makes sense – I grew up in West-Central Canada.

  97. People in Toronto don’t sound like that

  98. I live in South Florida My “accent” has hints of a Georgia accent mixed with an old Jewish lady from the North East. I have NO idea how that happened!

  99. i took the quiz last week and it was so funny how dead-on it was. i’m from dallas and have lived in austin for the past 6.5 years, and the quiz pretty much nailed that. creepy! (and awesome)

  100. Absolutely correct….Newark, Philadelphia and Baltimore. I grew up in Central New Jersey and have spent my adult life in the Philadelphia suburbs.

  101. I just took the quiz and it said Ft.Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, or Tuscon..and guess what??? I grew up in the Ft.Laud/Hollywood area!! Spot on!!

    http://www.lemonheadpress.com

  102. I have loved this Amy Walker video for years! She’s so talented. My accent is a little bit Southern US but not too thick. I do say “y’all” though! My husband makes fun of me for the way I pronounce the word “orange” (I say the first syllable like the ‘AR’ in “car”).

    It will be interesting to see the rest of the comments!

  103. Ooh this is interesting. I have a north of England accent but it’s quite soft because I’ve lived in London for years. My brother lives in New York and has picked up a bit of an American lilt – but when we’re together, we become all northern again!

  104. Her Irish accent is a little dodgy! I don’t know of anyone who speaks like that!!

  105. Amarillo, Lubbock, Oklahoma City … spot on! I’m from (and currently live in) Amarillo and went to college in Lubbock.

  106. Mine matches with Honolulu and Providence – but then I’m British so I probably messed up their study!