MAPPING HOW AMERICA SPEAKS: Post-graduate student Joshua Katz’s dialect maps showcase America’s many linguistic divides. Simple words such as lawyer, mayonnaise and crayon highlight just how dialectally diverse the United States is.
New maps of American dialect and local interpretation
Between 1999 and 2001, Professor Bert Vaux – at the time an associate professor of linguistics at Harvard University, now at Cambridge – with the help of some of his students, created a survey to analyse local dialects across America for his English class. He produced maps from the results which showed each response as a single color-coded point, so you could see individual instances of each answer.
Over a decade later, and graduate student Joshua Katz of North Carolina State University has taken the same survey data and produced some wonderful new maps. The example below uses the same data as the Vaux example above.
Katz also used an algorithm to build an interactive map of the responses Vaux gathered with a pull-down menu to find the most similar and least similar cities to any locale you choose.
Apparently, the y’all vs. you guys schism isn’t the only linguistic divide between the North and the South. As reported by Al.com (Alabama Local News):
Perhaps the strangest conclusion is the answer to this question: “What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?”
Most of the country has no term or expression for that incidence, while parts of the Northeast and Florida call it a “sunshower.”
In pockets of Mississippi and Alabama, however, that only happens when “the devil is beating his wife.”
As an Englishman who has only been to the States once, I was suprised to see how much of America pronounces mayonnaise as man-aze!
His project, a poster, the results and all of his mapping can be navigated through from his webpage ‘Beyond “Soda, Pop, or Coke”‘. Here are some further examples (below).
Coo-pon or Cyoo-pon
What or where is ‘the City’?
Is slaw acceptable?
Firefly or lightning bug?
Mary, merry and marry
Coke, soda, pop or soft drink?