Words tell where you are from

regional_wordsThis article appeared in the January 1, 2014 issue of the Berthoud (Colo) Weekly Surveyor

My first exposure to people from different areas of the United States happened in 1963 when I joined the Air Force.

What a revelation for an eighteen-year-old with no travel experience.

I soon learned that people from Texas sound different that people from Pennsylvania.

I also discovered that different regions of the U.S have different names for some items.

This all came back to me this week when I was surfing—wasting time–on Facebook.

I discovered a quiz that can tell where you grew up from your answers to some simple questions. Go to http://tinyurl.com/mu6abgl to see if this NY Times test can decide where you are from.

Some of the questions hit on areas I know about. For example, a sub sandwich also goes by the name grinder, hero, poor boy and hoagie.

The same goes for what you call a carbonated beverage. I say pop, but others say soda or coke—no matter what flavor the drink may be.

One that is obvious if you hang out with people from the south is their use of y’all. Other areas of the country say you, you guys, youse and you ‘uns.

Catching lightning bugs consumed many a summer night for me years ago. I found that some people call them fireflies.

Another item that has many variations is what you call those shoes you use for working out.

Take your pick from sneakers, gym shoes, tennis shoes, running shoes or trainers.

Sometimes the way a word is pronounced can help someone know where you are from. For example, do you say caramel with one or two syllables?

What about crayon or mayonnaise? Some people use more syllables or put the emphasis on different parts of the word.

I found this quiz to be fun and entertaining. The results show up on a map with colors indicating what regions of the country you are most likely from. It also lists a city or two.

My quiz said I was most likely from Des Moines, Iowa or Rockford, Illinois. Since Cedar Rapids, Iowa is in between these two places, I guess the quiz works.

Not satisfied with just my findings, I had my wife take the test. Her birthplace is Loveland, Colorado. The results placed her in either Denver or Wichita, Kansas. Since her mom is from Kansas, this seems logical.

Here are a couple of comments from some of my Facebook friends after they took the test. One said, “Mine turned out to be Des Moines, lived in Iowa for 32 years!” Another remarked, “Wow!

I’m from Buffalo and it pegged me as Buffalo, Rochester (which is an hour away) and Milwaukee! I’m impressed.”

Go ahead and try this yourself.

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