Caitlin Ahern

English communication in Graz, Austria

Does the U.S. Have Dialects?

The article, “22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other” has gone viral, because who doesn’t like a good map collection? Ok. Fine. Americans love to talk about how wildly different Southerners talk from Midwesterners and New Englanders, based on a few words. As a New Englander, I couldn’t believe that my cousins from Illinois would say “pop” instead of soda, or that my dad didn’t pronounce the “a” in “caramel”. And…. that’s about where the differences end. The article states,

Joshua Katz, a Ph. D student in statistics at North Carolina State University, just published a group of awesome visualizations of Professor Bert Voux’s linguistic survey that looked at how Americans pronounce words. (via) detsl on /r/Linguistics

So we have 22 very interesting maps showing regional differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. But that means there are only 22 terms which have different words or pronunciations – out of about 1 million.

Comparing this to Austria, which is about the size of the state of Maine, and has so many different dialects and accents, and comparing Austrian-German to German-German and Swiss-German, the differences in U.S. English seem like small change. Still, you have to love these maps. And now, an apology to all my students for teaching you to say “maple see-rup” instead of “maple sir-up”. I had no idea I was in the minority!

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This entry was posted on June 6, 2013 by in Language Materials and tagged , , , , .
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