Here at McBru, we’re all about communication. But communicating clearly depends on having a shared vocabulary and sense of word meaning. And that’s not always something we can depend on.
Recently, the New York Times published an interactive questionnaire that uses vocabulary choices to map regional dialects, revealing that the U.S. is actually a shifting collection of linguistic territories with islands of regional diversity that display certain ethnic or historical antecedents.
After answering each vocabulary question, the map shows where people who answered similarly are found, using linguistics and advanced data visualization tools to locate where your particular usage pattern is from. As the questionnaire continues, it’s interesting to see how some of your vocabulary choices are dictated by where you were brought up, and others are dictated by other factors, like where your parents are from, or where you went to school. In the end, the final model shows where your dialect is from, even though it may not be where you are actually from. For instance, according to the analytics, my dialect is from North Dakota, but I’m not. However, I know how my dialect got there!
Take a few moments and answer the questionnaire; it’s fun to observe how vocabulary choices can identify you as part of a larger linguistic group. Or not. Let us know if the questionnaire is accurate in identifying where your dialect is from!