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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

German Dialects vs. American Dialects

Dialects are a controversial topic in Germany. When raising a child, many parents are confronted with the dilemma of whether or not they should raise their child with dialect or raise them speaking Hochdeutsch (standard or "high" German). Although Marco must speak Hochdeutsch daily (both at work and home), he is still a big proponent of keeping dialects alive.

And I have to say that I am too.

So, one weekend, Marco and I decided to test our German dialects by taking an online German dialect quiz from the German news outlet Spiegel. Here are our results:

MarcoGerman dialect quiz - Schwäbisch


Marco comes from Baden-Württemberg, so you can already see that his results were pretty darn accurate. He placed the pin with the white dot in the middle on his hometown, and result #4, which the quiz guessed from Marco's answers, was less than 20 km away. Not bad!

CourtneyAmerican takes German dialect quiz


Although I am obviously not German, here are my results from the quiz. Since foreigners are always taught Hochdeutsch, it makes since that the quiz guessed I lived somewhere in the northwest, where Hochdeutsch is also the regional dialect.

Impressed with the results of this survey, I decided to search for something similar, but for Americans. Turns out, the New York Times offers an online American dialect quiz. I was pretty skeptical, since I do not think that dialects in the U.S. vary as strongly as dialects within Germany, but I decided to give it a shot anyways (and Marco did too). Here are those results:

Marco


English is Marco's second language, so it makes sense that his results are a little all over the place (except the South, thankfully). What was particularly weird, was that his #1 result was Honolulu.

CourtneyChicago accent map

Chicago accent map

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and went to college in the city, so this turned out to be incredibly accurate. You can see some of the answers that best showed my Chicago-ness in the bottom picture (who pronounces cot and caught the same?!).

So although Marco and I both live away from our hometowns, away from where our native dialects are spoken, we have both been able to hold on to those dialects pretty well thus far. I hope it stays like that.

 If you take the quiz(zes) yourself, let me know your results in the comments below!

24 comments:

  1. The US dialect quiz is so accurate! My map is heavy red for New England (where I was born and have family) and Virginia, where I've lived for the past 20 years. They pinpointed me in Virginia Beach, which is over 100 miles east of me, but considering the overall size of the US, I'd say that's pretty darn accurate, y'all. ;)

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  2. My husband did the German dialect quiz and it pinpointed his EXACT hometown!! :D

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  3. That's awesome! The German one is crazy with how precise it will get, even suggesting tiny little dorfs. Although obviously German dialects vary much more per kilometer than American or Canadian accents do.

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  4. Hahah, so cool! Your comment about size is spot on. In the US, you need to travel hundreds of miles to reach a place with a different accent from you. In Germany, you probably only need to travel 50 km.

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  5. Ami SchwabenlandJune 10, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    I did these quizzes earlier this year, and the American one nailed my butt to Wisconsin (where lived my whole life until I moved to Germany at age 44). I answered the German questions based on what I hear but sometimes "defaulted" to Hochdeutsch, and it pinned me to Baden-Württemberg and a little north. I was surprised how accurate both quizzes were, and I find them fascinating.

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  6. They are totally fascinating! I was really shocked by the U.S. one too. So many tiny little differences between accents that you never think about. I mean, do people from Wisconsin really sound much different to those from Illinois? I don't think so, but they do use weird words like "bubbler."

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  7. It was pretty spot on for me, well it had me in Washington but still :)

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  8. Washington, Oregon... it's all the same, right? :D Hahah, at least accent-wise anyways.


    Although, if you told me that you don't think there is a difference between Northern and Southern Illinois, I would flip shit.

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  9. Oh, that's funny... I think everyone in Germany took that quiz in the last couple of months! It was definite water-cooler fodder from what my groups said. I wrote about it myself awhile back, fun stuff. :) Not sure if I've commented here before but love the blog and 'hi' from Nürnberg!

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  10. Ami SchwabenlandJune 10, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    Indeed we do. :-) We also have a lot of "Germanisms". For instance many commands end with "once" (mal) - "Come here once." ("Komm mal her!") "Sit down once". "You gotta see this once!" We also say "by" when we mean "at". "Where are you, Jack?" "By Grandma's." This may be mainly the Sheboygan area.

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  11. Did you try taking the American one?

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  12. Yep, dead on. "Bubbler" is a total WI giveaway though! At... https://heathergoesdeutsch.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/monday-quiz-day/ ... if you're interested. :)

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  13. Man, you guys sounds really weird. Hahaha

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  14. Ami SchwabenlandJune 10, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    Yeah, I know. :-)

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  15. That was really cool! I'm still learning German in class so a few words were unfamiliar. It placed me in Norden, and then in Lexington, KY--not too far from where I live. I can't imagine "cot" and "caught" being different!

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  16. What?! Maybe I need to look up some videos, because I cannot fathom how they can sound the same with each word still sounding normal.

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  17. I can't imagine how they'd sound different. I'll have to call some friends in Naperville. YouTube to the rescue!

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  18. This is very interesting. Especially Marco's U.S. quiz. I'll let you know what mine says!!

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  19. It chose Rockford, Aurora or Detroit, so funny!! Least like 3 cities in Massachusetts and that is even funnier!!

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  20. That's pretty close! I also had all dark blue (least similar) on the East coast. Who knew that our dialects are so different? It definitely has more to do with the words we choose to use, rather than the sound of our accent.

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  21. Oh man, you wrote almost the exact same post (except 2 months earlier...). Well, you know what they say about great minds! Haha.

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  22. Great minds indeed! The Spiegel quiz was a hot topic in most of my classes that week too. I'm pretty sure at least one other Germany blogger wrote about it too, but now I can't remember who it was. There are too many of us, haha!

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  23. Super interesting. Cot and caught. Completely different sounds!

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  24. AGREED. But it looks like the entire Western half of the country would disagree...

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