Tuesday, April 19, 2005


When I tell people I'm from Wisconsin, they generally respond with a few different things. My responses/commentary are in parentheses.

A very nasal, "You mean, Wis-KAHN-sin?" ("Did I say it like that? I didn't think so.")

"So you're a cheesehead?" (or some other equally unoriginal comment about cheese. yeah, Wisconsin makes cheese, get over it.)

"Do you like the Packers?" ("I'm pretty sure I'd be disowned if I didn't.")


"How'd ya git down here?" ("I drove.")

or, my personal favorite:

"You don't sound like you're from Wisconsin." ("Thank you. Thank you very much.")

Conversely, when I visit Wisconsin and tell people I moved to Nashville, I hear the following:

"Do you like country music?" ("I did. Then I moved to Nashville and found better music.")

"What are you doing down there?" (And a bunch of other questions like that.)

"What brought you to Nashville?" (too long to answer here)

and, of course my favorite:

"Do you have an accent, yet?" ("Does it sound like it? Ok, ok, only on certain words.")

I attribute my lack of midwestern or southern accent to music (and perhaps my over all love of the English language and its grammar-- yep, I'm a nerd and I don't care). I grew up singing in choirs and taking voice lessons. You don't really get to have a personal accent when you sing choral music. You take on the accent of the piece. You absorb the accent of the choir; the phonetics of the language in which the piece was written. I've had the priviledge of singing in German, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew and Swahili, to name a few.

I've also had the priviledge of singing in a cappella. I don't think you understand the necessary absence of personal accent until you're trying to get a group of fifteen women to pronounce such phrases as "bwah bwah dop," "bwher neher lerhder der der" and prolonged vowels as one voice. I can't tell you how many hours we spent in rehearsal just matching words, vowels and consonants. But it was worth it.

Therefore, when I took a short accent quiz today (as seen on Perfect Blue Buildings), I wasn't really surprised at the results:

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English

10% Dixie

10% Upper Midwestern

10% Yankee

0% Midwestern

Although I find it "Upper Midwestern" kind of offensive to be lumped in with the Dakotas and the U.P. (you would too if you'd ever heard them)-- at least it's only 10% and I'll attribute that to me saying that I drink from "water fountains" when I'm not having a "soda." I also fault them for not having some sort of West Coast language classification.

So, there are my results. Now how about you? What kind of American English do you speak?