I say curb strip, you say berm…

I had a linguistics professor who was rather obsessed with whether people said ‘soda’, ‘pop’ or ‘fizzy drink’, and how they pronounced their vowels. Coming from Scotland, he would occasionally make me repeat certain words over and over again to judge exactly what bizarre vowel I was pronouncing when I said ‘bird’. I found out that he used his time in Cambridge wisely, compiling this online survey of world Englishes, which I invite you to take. Moreover, someone else had so much time on their hands (or was possibly the professor’s poor PhD student),  that they compiled this survey data into visualisations of pronunciation in the US, devising an algorithm to estimate probability of pronunciation in each city.

You can easily spend a few hours browsing through this website and not only wonder at the 122 variations of English all across the US,  but also ask yourself such pertinent and soul-searching questions as: “can you call coleslaw ‘slaw’?”, “what word do you use for gawking at someone in a lustful way?” and “how many syllables are there in ‘mayonnaise’?”. Bonus Quiz: find out what “the devil is beating his wife” refers to in a few southern states.

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