How Do Americans Really Talk?

By Grant Helle

We know that not all American English is the same: Southerners love to talk about sipping ‘coke’ while drinking a sprite; New Yorkers talk about their pie while eating at a pizzeria; and Bostonians love talking about plenty, but no one has understood them since the 1800s.

Surely these are the only three dialects in America, right?
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Not quite.

Even though these dialects might not be as distinct as those of the British Isles, American English still has plenty of differences that are – as with almost every language – increasing. In fact, these variations are not always noticeable right away. An Iowan might not realize that newscasters are from somewhere else until they keep referring to ‘law-yers’ and not ‘loy-yers’.

So how do Americans really talk? In 2002, Professors Bert Vaux and Scott Golder set out to answer this question and developed a survey of over 120 questions in order to determine who pronounces what, how, and where.

But why just read about it? Take The New York Times’ dialect challenge yourself.