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Dialect survey for pronunciation polls - The Growlery
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni
forthright
forthright
Dialect survey for pronunciation polls
I'm going to be away for a few days next week and won't likely have time to write an analytical essay on a pronunciation poll, so instead, what I've decided to do is put together a dialect survey so I can get a better sense of my respondents' spoken English regional dialects. Once upon a time when I had 40 respondents per poll, life was easy and I knew where most of my respondents lived and grew up. This is certainly no longer the case, and while some of you do have identifying information in your Livejournal profile, this isn't always reliable. My goal is to get as many respondents as possible to answer this, and I will be including a link to this poll on future posts to enable this. Please note that this post is public (like all the pronunciation polls); if you want to make comments about your family / linguistic history, keep that in mind.

HOW TO ANSWER THE POLL: There are really no trick questions! Just pick the answer that fits best for each question, and then reserve any additional comments or clarifications for the final open-ended question, or for the comments on the post. If you are American, click on the link in the poll question to see a nifty little dialect map that is a composite of the work of several linguists, and which I have taken from Linguistic Geography of the Mainland United States. Please note that this poll is exactly as fine-grained as I chose to make it, and no more. I am perfectly aware that these regions and dialects are fairly broad - for instance, that the Philadelphia region has its own peculiar accent apart from 'Midland' and that Scouse and Geordie each have their own rich history within the broad 'Northern England' category. I've also had to omit any discussion of class and age, for the sake of privacy and to avoid huge angry discussions.

Edit to add: In the final question, feel free to also enter any non-English languages to which you have been exposed, and which you think may affect your pronunciation of English words.

Poll #1046168 Dialect survey

Is English your native language?

Yes
200(92.6%)
No
16(7.4%)

If you answered 'No', what is your native language?

In which of the following countries/regions did you first learn English?

British Isles
34(15.7%)
United States
124(57.4%)
Canada
39(18.1%)
Australia
5(2.3%)
New Zealand
2(0.9%)
South Africa
2(0.9%)
India
1(0.5%)
Other
9(4.2%)

If you answered 'Other' above, in what country/region did you first learn English?

If you answered 'United States' above, which of the following regions best describes your native dialect (click here for map)?

New England
12(9.8%)
New York
15(12.2%)
Great Lakes
15(12.2%)
Midland
22(17.9%)
Upper Midwestern
7(5.7%)
Western
28(22.8%)
Mountain Southern
8(6.5%)
Coastal Southern
16(13.0%)
Alaska
0(0.0%)
Hawai'i
0(0.0%)

If you answered 'Canada' above, which of the following best describes the region where you learned English?

Newfoundland
0(0.0%)
Maritimes
7(17.9%)
Quebec
5(12.8%)
Ontario
19(48.7%)
Prairies
4(10.3%)
British Columbia
4(10.3%)
The North
0(0.0%)

If you answered 'British Isles' above, which of the following best describes the region where you learned English?

Southeast England
17(51.5%)
West Country
1(3.0%)
Midlands
2(6.1%)
Northern England
5(15.2%)
Wales
1(3.0%)
Scotland (Lowlands)
2(6.1%)
Scotland (Highlands)
1(3.0%)
Ireland
4(12.1%)

(If relevant) To which other English dialects have you had significant, long-term exposure (e.g., through a spouse or long-term residence)?

Tags: , ,

51 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
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gats From: gats Date: August 27th, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, I'm skewing the results :)
forthright From: forthright Date: August 28th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I prefer to think of you as a 'blip' ;)
chickenfeet2003 From: chickenfeet2003 Date: August 28th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I learned English in Manchester and W.Yorks. Nine years, mostly at public school in Hertfordshire, profoundly modified that. Subsequently I've lived in Merseyside, Durham, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Preston and Melbourne as well as spent time in most parts of the English speaking world on business.
sorceror From: sorceror Date: August 28th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... where does "Dutch" fit into this? :-P
forthright From: forthright Date: August 28th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Do you think you have been significantly affected by Dutch in your pronunciation of English words?
From: dsgood Date: August 28th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
My dialect is Hudson Valley. To me, the NYC dialect sounds more "accented" than Montreal English -- even when the latter is spoken by francophones.
jinni_x From: jinni_x Date: August 28th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I no tell! Muahahhahah!
a_d_medievalist From: a_d_medievalist Date: August 28th, 2007 02:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Grew up in different parts of California -- and NoCal is slightly different from Central, but not so much in comparison with the US. CA is distinctly different from WA or OR, though. But spent 6 years in the South, three in Germany, and 13 with a UK ex-pat from Sarf London; in that time, almost all the English in the home was UK English (probably 90% of our entertainment was from the UK). Current bf is from Brum, but with a proper post-war RP accent and dialect by way of Oxford. Currently living south of the Mason-Dixon. My accent is supposedly pretty neutral (so much so that I have no US accent when I speak German or French, but I have picked up lots of different bits and pieces of regional US and UK dialect.
forthright From: forthright Date: August 28th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Between you and chickenfeet2003, the two of you have every possible linguistic influence covered.
intertext From: intertext Date: August 28th, 2007 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I lived in England until I was 7 (give me a [boy] until the age of seven and he's mine for life...) then lived in Western Canada with very British parents in the most "English" of Canadian cities, Victoria.
From: urban_homestead Date: August 28th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
The only one I could confidently choose an answer for was the first. Here are my answers, and if you tell me how you'd like that represented in the poll, I'll enter them: Yes, English is my first language, learned in France, from a mother with a Canadian Prairie accent and a father with an Ontario accent, mostly - both have some British Isles pronunciations as a result of their own parentage and time lived in England. I lived in London for several years as a child, where I must have been exposed to Southeast England dialects, and attended an American school for several years, young enough to learn a portion of my vocabulary there from people with accents from all over the U.S.
forthright From: forthright Date: August 28th, 2007 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, since I know you and have a good sense of what your dialect might be, it isn't that crucial! I'd say just enter Yes, 'Other' for where you learned English, and then specify 'France', and leave the last questions blank, since none of them really work well. Oh, you wacky immigrants! :)
brief_therapy From: brief_therapy Date: August 28th, 2007 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Not in the poll, but possibly relevant. I live in Sweden and speak Swedish most of the day every day. I've noticed that this has changed the way I pronounce many English words.
dyddgu From: dyddgu Date: August 28th, 2007 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Just to prove I am also a snowflake, we moved to St. Andrews Scotland when I was 6mo, speaking Welsh in the house, and English in nursery &c., until I was about 4. Apparently I used to translate idioms literally, and confused the teacher when I told her her phone was singing.
Lived the rest of my life in Wales, though.
rosencrantz From: rosencrantz Date: August 28th, 2007 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Innaccurate accent descriptions are a go!

Think I have to clarify the last answer I gave.

"New England" - my dad is from Maine. His accent was not as strong as my grandmother's, but occassionally a "park your car in the garden" style sound would slip out. ("pahk your caah in the gaahden")

"Asian Engrish" - actually this is Filipino english, which is much different than other styles of Asian english. It has mostly to do with the pronunciation of f's as p's, I guess. "spinach" = "speenuts", phrases like "ai, talaga!" ("eye tahlahgah") were common, etc. It's hard to describe, really, but I think the Filipino-English accent is rather unique. It is influenced a lot by Spanish.

"British-German English" is what my husband speaks. Germans learn (high) British English, ane he speaks with hardly any accent anyhow, but there is still a sort of unique German 'sound' to native German speakers' English that is not present in British. Again, I hardly know where to begin to describe it. Maybe "rotting" would be "roeuting" for example, where the "o" is just not quite right, like you're curling your tongue into a "U" when you say it.
rosencrantz From: rosencrantz Date: August 28th, 2007 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Innaccurate accent descriptions are a go!

Oh yes. I currently live in Germany and I'm sure that influences my pronunciation (though I don't really personally notice it). It has certainly influenced my spelling!
From: word_herder Date: August 28th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never heard of a region called "Midland" in the U.S., but if by that you mean places like Kansas, then I answered that correctly.

On a completely different note...have you ever heard of Athens being pronounced as "Ay-thens"? A friend visited an Athens Christian Church in central Illinois, and she said they use the "a" as in "way" which I think is decidedly odd.
forthright From: forthright Date: August 28th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Midland accent was identified by linguists a couple of decades ago after recognizing similarities in accent in a big east-west band across the US. According to the dialect map I linked to, yes, Kansas is entirely within the Midland accent region.

I've never heard of Athens as Ay-thens, but it's quite common for small American towns with simple-looking names to be pronounced oddly. But Wikipedia seems to confirm that Athens, Illinois is one such place, although the entry is ambiguous at best.
joane From: joane Date: August 28th, 2007 02:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't think of it at the time, but where would yiddish exposure fit in? It's not an English dialect, but it definitely informs by english pronounciations (Rich says I go all 'old bubby' on him when I get really worked up about something, and my accent shifts to an old-world style). My community in Toronto interspersed Yiddish and Hebrew phrases through English pretty often, and sometimes I forget which language is what and get very odd looks out here.

Gave a guy from Newfoundland whiplash on Sunday when I wished him 'mazel tov' on his engagement, which startled the hell out of me... it's such a part of my dialect that I hadn't realized I wasn't speaking maritime english.
forthright From: forthright Date: August 28th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suppose that would be Yinglish.
elanya From: elanya Date: August 28th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
here is a fun toy to go along with this pole: http://accent.gmu.edu/browse_atlas.php Speech accent archive!
elanya From: elanya Date: August 28th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am going to pretend I didn't use the wrong 'poll' and possibly bothered to capitalize and use real grammar -_-
soulchanger From: soulchanger Date: August 29th, 2007 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
It might be worth noting that, having grown up in NYC, I have a lot of urban slang in my everyday speech patterns. I recall there was some controversy a while ago as to whether the name "Ebonics" could be attached to said urban slang, and whether it could be taught in and considered a legitimate language. Not sure where any given person stands on that issue, but I thought it might count as a significant, long-term exposure to another language/dialect/whatever it might be.
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