The US Dialect Quiz and TCKs

Maybe you’ve seen the US Dialect Quiz roaming around on Facebook. The quiz is from NY Times and questions are based from the Harvard Dialect Quiz. Basically, you answer twenty-five questions about how you would say certain words or which word you would call an object. Then based on your answers a map is shown where in the US your dialect comes from.

Any expat parent that is not a citizen of the US can probably say that their child has “lost” some of their accent. I know this to be true because my German husband has an American accent. As a teacher I have seen students from other countries speaking with an “American accent,” this includes countries where English is the official language. I vividly remember many years back a little Korean first grader saying good-bye to her teacher in a southern drawl – no hint of a Korean accent. And now, I see it with my Auzzie, South African, and even New Zealand friends – their children have only a hint of their “home” country’s accent.

So, what about an “American” TCK – yes, they most likely will have an “American accent,”but even the US has many varied accents and even vocabulary words. I had two thoughts about this quiz: 1) I wondered if my accent/dialect would be different since I’ve lived overseas for sometime now and 2) if my children would be relatively close to my score. And then the question of just wondering where my husband’s accent/dialect fell since he has an “American accent,” but had only lived there for a total of four years for university (two years on the west coast and two on the east coast).

The results? I scored southern Missouri/northern Arkansas, which I’d call the Ozark region. I grew up in northern Missouri, but went to university in southern Missouri. So, okay I’ll take that.

I had my oldest take the quiz. He scored Washington state.

And my husband? St. Louis, Missouri. Maybe I have had an affect on him after all, or the east and west balanced out? Actually, probably neither.

My thoughts on this? I believe that my son’s language has been affected by his teachers and his classmates just like all other expat children. As I think about it, he has had teachers from Washington state and Canada. And I bet if I asked my husband, his accent would probably be because of teachers and coaches.

I’m not the only one finding this quiz to show a differences between child and parent, though. A friend of mine also discovered the same thing. She scored Texas and Oklahoma, while her son scored North and South Carolina.

So is this breaking news? No, but it may give us another example of why our kids don’t feel “at home” in the place we may call “home.” It is a tiny example, I know, but still an example.

How about you? Have you taken this quiz? Has your children taken the quiz? What were the results? Please share in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “The US Dialect Quiz and TCKs

  1. I was curious how I would score since I’ve lived overseas over half my life and spent my childhood in Asia. But as a matter of fact, my accent is similar to people in Spokane (which is 2 hours from where I live now) and Boise (which is 5 hours from where I live now), so I guess I’ve acclimated? So interesting, MaDonna. Thanks for posting!

    • Interesting! Does this mean WA is becoming “home” or is this just the start of it? LOL
      This has really interested me for some reason. I just find it intriguing…maybe because I grew up as a monoculture kid? Who knows, but thanks for sharing your results.

  2. After 12+ years living outside of America and married to an Aussie, the quiz still picked out Portland, Oregon as one of the possible choices.

    My inlaws and hubby tell me that my accent changes when I’m here with them vs. in America or video-chatting with my family. I was also surprised to find that words I thought were Aussie (i.e. a bubbler) were also from America – just from an area I had not lived.

    Those in American think my accent has morphed, but it probably has to do with the terms (mobile phone, torch, mozzie spray) than the pronunciation of my otherwise American words.

    Interesting to hear a view from a fellow expat :).

    • This is interesting. My husband always tells me that my accent is back as soon as we step into my mother’s house. I don’t notice.

      I totally get the vocab differences and how that might be why others think your accent has morphed. Very interesting though that some of the words are the same. I don’t even know what a bubbler is. HA!
      Thanks for taking time to share your experience with this quiz.

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