There is a new interactive quiz at The New York Times that lets you see how your speech choices match up with various geographic regions in the nation. It’s fairly quick and can provide some interesting results. Here’s a look at mine.
I’m most verbally at home in Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, though, interestingly, I have a so-called General American Accent, which is the most neutral in the United States, probably because I grew up very close to the southern side of that shaded area near Iowa (not to mention my dad coming from California).
Were I given a choice of birth accents, I think I’d go with North or South Carolina, but I think a big part of it is I remember hearing it a lot during childhood in grocery stores, service stations, banks – that twang; seriously, hearing these two talk transports me back to the 1980’s – and it makes me feel nostalgic. You don’t hear it very much these days, but I still remember being a little boy and the Wal-Mart checkout ladies pronouncing Missouri as “Mizz-ur-ah”. It’s not just the language that has changed since then. In those days, Wal-Marts were the size of a small office supply store, didn’t sell any groceries, and called themselves “Discount City”. They were also brown and white with almost no presence outside of the Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, etc. area. And they had these popcorn machines up front with snow cone makers so you could have a snack while you wandered the rust-orange-ish carpeted aisles with your grandparents.
So … how do you’all speak?