Melting Pot

04 Jul

Happy 4th of July! Before we popularized the “4th,” the holiday was always referred to as Independence Day. I wonder how many young people know this? Language changes, cultural references are born, change, die.

The United States is a melting pot and with different people comes different languages, meanings, and customs. But we need look no further than each other for regional differences in the way we speak the same language of English.

Do you say pronounce “aunt” like ant or awnt? Do you say route with a sound like out or a sound like boot?

Here are some short quizzes to determine your American accent. The first two links test your accent by sound alone. I put in two for comparison. The third is more what words you use. Example: Do you call the level in a house below ground a cellar or a basement?

Test 1

Test 2

Test 3

When you create your characters, take into account everything about them, including their regional accent or dialect.

What accent from our great melting pot do you use?


Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Etymology, Tests


Tags: ,

19 responses to “Melting Pot

  1. Corina Mallory

    July 4, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    I always find these tests so difficult and amusing because I don’t think I really fit *anywhere* anymore. My accent is pretty all over the map. Like a lot of Americans I’ve lived so many different places, read, traveled and watched so much television that most regional distinctiveness has been spackled over. (Although I do call fried bread dough a “scone” like a true Idaho native. Pretty sure that’s a uniquely Idaho thing.) When I take them, I almost have to pretend I’m my grandparents and try and think of how they speak. I don’t even *have* a consistent way I say route! Sometimes I use one, sometimes the other. In fact, I read so many English mysteries when I was a kid that even my spelling isn’t strictly American. I default to British spellings on a number of words – grey and pyjamas especially.

  2. Janis McCurry

    July 4, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Don’t worry. I like to say petrol because it’s a more attractive word than GAS. And I’ve never been to England nor had relatives use that term. Oh, and Mom always said “warsh” the clothes and I have no idea why unless Grandma and Grandpa used it and she absorbed that sound. She was born in Boise, so who knows.

    • Stephanie Berget

      July 6, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      My grandparents and parents used warsh and they were from Boise. I do too sometimes.

  3. Judith Keim

    July 4, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Language is so important. I’ve lived many places so speak a mixture of things. After living in the South for a while – bless her heart, and baby are still used a lot. Oh, and instead of saying hi, I still say Hey for hello.

  4. Janis McCurry

    July 4, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    I also do the “hey” greeting. Interesting how prevalent it is. I looked for clues and found this:

    As quoted from

    ***Traditionally, hey was just an exclamation. Sometimes it expressed delight, sometimes a warning. Nowadays we find it used for emphasis as well, especially in the expression but hey. It is also a greeting. It is a short, colloquial version of How are you? and thus close kin to the informal salutation hi, which it seems to be replacing in many situations. Until recently, this greeting had a distinctly Southern flavor. The national survey conducted in the 1960s by the Dictionary of American Regional English found hey as a greeting restricted chiefly to Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. The friendly hey has since spread throughout the United States.***

    So, 1) Yet another salutation formed from what was originally a warning.
    2) Yet another Southernism shared by all. Hey, I like that! 🙂

  5. Marsha R. West

    July 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Great post, Janis. I too have lived all over and majored in speech and theatre in college. So years ago I had a pretty standard, general (with the e sounding like the e in “pet.”0 American accent. I’ve lived in Texas a really long time now, so “reckon,” “gonna,” and heavens above! “fixin” pepper my speech. I never ever say “git” for “get.” I picked up “hey” from a Georgia cousin. I thought it sounded more friendly than “Hi.” Who knows.? Now I use it in my writing to help designate a southerner, but apparently from your research that’s not so good anymore. Of course I say “Y’all.” And that is the correct spelling and means plural you. 🙂 I’ve even written “y’all’s” for plural possessive you. I don’t claim that’s the “correct” spelling. It’s just the way I spell it. LOL
    Love the different way we speak and say things across our country. But not surprised that all our migrations and travel have washed some of that away. Happy 4th to my Idaho friends.

  6. Janis McCurry

    July 4, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    And a wonderful 4th to you and family, Marsha.

  7. Peggy Staggs

    July 4, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    I’m a true American Mutt. Not only were my grandparents from all over Europe, but my parents, sister and I lived all over the U.S. I started out in Minnesota, moved to Texas, to California, to Alabama, to Missouri, and finally home to Idaho. I try to keep my characters true to their region, but with my roots in the Midwest and my developmental years smeared all over the rest of the country, I get confused…easily. Sometimes it’s a basement and sometimes it’s a cellar, and I too, remember Independence Day before it was a movie.

  8. Peggy Staggs

    July 4, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    I rely on my word guru to keep me straight.

  9. Janis McCurry

    July 4, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Using multiple words for the same thing proves we are a melting pot.

  10. Jennifer

    July 5, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    Very interesting. I would always get teased when I lived in Cali for saying “pop” instead of “soda” and for pronouncing “bag” with a long “a” sound.

  11. Janis McCurry

    July 5, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Aw, those Calies. Glad you’re here!

  12. Stephanie Berget

    July 6, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Sorry I’m so late for this. I’m a westerner through and through. What a fun post. I loved taking the quizzes. And Marsha, according to our retreat the plural of y’all is all y’all. LOL

    • marsharwest

      July 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      You are so correct, Stephanie. I guess plural possessive is “all y’all’s.” Words are so fun!

  13. Janis McCurry

    July 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    I love quizzes, too. So fun as long as I’m not “graded.”

  14. maryvine

    July 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    If I lived in Boston, I’d be trying to “fix” everyone’s /R/ sound as I do it for a living 🙂

    • Janis McCurry

      July 10, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      True enough. Some of the accents do ring “wrong.”

  15. Lynn Mapp

    July 12, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    Language is interesting. I spent two weeks in the south and came home with southern manners. It took me over a month to stop addressing adults as sir or ma’am. My father was in the Navy and we living on the east coast and the west coast. My father is from the south and my mother is from Idaho. My language is a blend of those areas.


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