By Jane Gonzalez-Meyer
Missourians don’t have an accent right? Wrong! Don’t worry, if you thought you didn’t. You’re not alone.
Excluding St. Louis, Missouri falls inside the Midland speech region with other states like Ohio and Indiana, according to Suzanne Hogan in her article and radio piece “What does the Kansas City Dialect Sound Like?” For more about St. Louis dialect, we’ll get to that later.
Language is always evolving, and people from different regions influence one another when it comes to dialects and accents. In her article, Hogan included a quiz taken from The New York Times graphics editor Josh Katz. It combines a Harvard dialect survey and a multiple choice quiz to show how people pronounce words in different parts of the country and the words people use to describe certain objects and occurrences.
Just like any region of the country, when it comes to pronunciation and word choice for particular objects or ideas, there are patterns within Missouri. For example, many Missourians pronounce pen and pin the same way, even though they are spelled differently and are different objects.
Another example is soda and pop. Both words are about the same beverage, but one word is preferred over the other in certain areas. Within the quiz, St. Louis proves itself different from the rest of the state when it comes to some terminology, like the earlier example of pop and soda. In the heat map, a strong concentration of soda users exist in the St. Louis area, and the farther away from the city you go, the more popular the word pop becomes, like in Kansas City.
The pronunciation of caught and cot also shows discrepancy between the St. Louis area and the rest of Missouri. For the majority of the state, these two words are said the same even though they refer to separate things. The closer you get to St. Louis, the more people pronounce them different.
Check out the quiz, and see where in the country other people talk like you do.
The New York Times Quiz: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html?_r=1&
For more information regarding Suzanne Hogan’s article and radio piece, check out: http://kcur.org/post/what-does-kansas-city-dialect-sound
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