Monday, March 24, 2008

Another accent quiz

Finally, back to the truly trivial! (Comments continue to come in on opacity, and that may mean more serious talk in the future, but … .) Here's yet another on-line American accent quiz.

They're using some pretty reasonable questions, to the extent there is a 'reasonable' here. But note this:
7. Do you think the word "on" rhymes with "dawn" or with "don"?
  • dawn
  • don
  • Well, I don't think don and dawn sound any different in the first place so on would obviously rhyme with both
There's a widespread fourth option they don't note: For some Southerners — and it's VERY salient to people here in the Upper Midwest — on rhymes with Doan, so with tense long /o:/ rather than either of what people think of as the low/back pair. They've got tons for Southern in other parts of the quiz, so maybe they skipped it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What gets me about this quiz, which has been the buzz on ads-l for a day now, is the apparent obsession with cot/caught merger …

Jon Boy said...

No kidding. Almost half the questions revolve around one sound change. It accurately picked my accent (West, with Midlands a close second), but it seems like it might not always accurately identify other accents.

Mr. Verb said...

Yeah, it's definitely weird to focus so much on this various elements of Low/Back Merger.

The Ridger, FCD said...

It's the only one they've noticed...

Mr. Verb said...

Ouch.

Ellen said...

Seems to me it's hard to compare because it's usually an unstressed word. I'd say it's, different from both; it's a little higher in the mouth than don. And I'm not from the south. Lower Midwest (if that's a term), so nearto the south, but certainly not the south.

And I'm wondering how bag comes to rhyme with vague in any accent.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Ellen, welcome to Wisconsin, where some folks not only rhyme "bag" and "vague" (with the low front vowel), they say "bagel" with the same freakin' vowel!!!!

Anonymous said...

Isnt "bag," "vague," and "bagel" supposed to have the same beginning vowel? I dont see how it could be any other way.

Joe said...

For most Americans, 'bag' has a low front [æ] and the other two words have mid [e:]. For probably increasing numbers of people in the Upper Midwest, we do find merger.