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Car Talk Lingo Across the USA: A 25 question quiz

One thing I like about the radio program Car Talk is listening to the different accents and manner of speech of callers around the USA. One call will be from Maine, and the next for New Orleans. I think it’s entertaining just to listen to the difference in the caller’s language and speech style.

If you have a few minutes spare time, this NY Times quiz is a hoot. It promises to narrow down where you hail from based on your answer to 25 questions about the words you use to describe various things. You know that little garden bug that rolls up in a ball when you touch it? What do you call it? A pill bug? A potato bug? What you call it tells something about where you are located. I was surprised how accurately it worked for me.

Takes about 10 minutes. Be sure not to give up at the end, it might look like it crashed, but just wait, it takes a minute or two for it to compute and draw the map based on your answers.

I took that test recently, and I found it to be…reasonably accurate.

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and lived there for several years until moving with my family to Northern NJ. The test result for me was NYC/Northern NJ/White Plains, NY. I have no idea how White Plains entered into the results, but it was accurate on two out of the three areas noted in the results.

My result showed me somewhere between Salt Lake City and Denver, which is close to the area where I grew up, north western Colorado.

I had to take a Public speaking class in college. The professor could tell from the way you talked where you came from. And he was amazingly accurate. One kid in the class was from Hawaii. The professor could tell what island he grew up on.

Somewhat accurate, I am pretty good at determining locale by accents, First question Greasy, s sound north of the mason dixon line, greazy south!

I noticed that “s” vs “z” difference one time when I went to Texas on a business trip. That was a pretty fun trip, I finally got some grits. Grits are pretty much impossible to find on any restaurant menu here in northern Calif. But I got a lot of 'em in Texas. I never had them before, and they are really tasty. I had them every morning for breakfast. I’ve tried making them here at home, but never got the hang of it. Don’t taste the same. Plus I make them out of cornmeal, and I think you are supposed to make them out of something else, hominy? I’m pretty clue-less grit-wise!

A grit is actually the white seed inside a corn kernel, now if you ever heard of red eye gravy…

No, don’t think I ever had red eye gravy. I had some kind of red bean chili-like-dish in New Orleans one time, served w/rice, and THAT was very good.

Paula Dean is a southern belle, I was born in MN and lived in so many places, she can give you the lowdown. ps I love maple sirple on grits and vaniller ice cream

You can tell if a person is from east central Indiana. A person who buts into someone else’s business is called a “nib nose” or, in the worst case a “nib sh*t”. Dish and fish are pronounced “deesch” and “feesch”. Special is pronounced “spaysyal”. I worked out homework problems in advanced calculus with a friend from east central Indiana and it was hard to tell if he was referring to a “special” case or a “spatial” case.

I’m gonna take that quiz here in a jiff and see, as a cross country transplant, which place it puts me…north central Ohio or four corners New Mexico ?

Out here the term ‘‘right now’’ is in fact any of all three tenses ; past, present, and future. You must listen to the context.
Yah, I’ll be there right now .
Yah, I’m there right now.
But I was just there right now.

NO my browser is NOT out of date…oh, well no love lost.

Also, here in east central Hoosierland, we pronounce “bush” as “boosch”. I thought I should point this out to all of you in case you travel this way and need to know the correct pronunciation of words.

I spent a bit of time in Indiana on holiday, but in the Gary/Val Paraiso area. Didn’t really notice what you are saying @Triedaq, there anyway. Seemed like folks there in northwestern Indiana had similar speech patterns to what I heard in Chicago. John Buluci, Bill Murray, etc.

When I was in Gary, Indiana, it seemed like everyone (including me) was just struggling to breathe the greenish/gray “air” in the town. What with the gasping for air, I didn’t take notice of the local speech patterns.

I spent a couple of years in southern Illinois. A highway was called the “hard road”. My landlord worked at the railroad station for the REA (Railway Express Agency) and talked in railroad language. When driving, you didn’t apply the brakes to stop the car, you “set the air”.

Yeah … lol … well modern day Gary Indiana isn’t exactly like it is portrayed in “The Music Man”, eh? But there’s a lot of recreational areas in the vicinity, the great lake shoreline etc.

@GeorgeSanJose–sorry, I dropped my wireless mouse and didn’t mean to hit the “off topic”. I hope I corrected this by hitting “like”/

At any rate, the Indiana city that was really meant in “Music Man” was Elkhart, Indiana, the band instrument manufacturing capital of the world. Gary, Indiana just fit the lyrics better.

Oof da , ND term. anyrhing with hey. like hey can ya loan a guy a buck was Canadian, ND was oof da i’m a buck short.

But it’s also true that so very much lingo a person uses is also an indication of…
Generational differences occur even in the same area.

The quiz placed me in either Modesto, Rancho Cucamonga, or Corona. All in California


I’ve been living in Los Angeles since 1999, but I’m a transplant. Anybody here can spend a few minutes talking to me and quickly realize I didn’t grow up here.

Apparently I’ve adapted, as far as language and terminology go