Can you tell where in New York someone is from based on their accent? A new online survey is testing whether even native New Yorkers can tell the difference between the various accents that exist in the city’s five boroughs.
As we’ve looked at previously, Americans aren’t especially great at differentiating between regionally-specific accents, and now a professor from Reed College is putting that to the ultimate test. Developed by Assistant Professor of Linguistics Kara Becker, the online quiz lets participants listen to a trio of short lines of dialogue spoken by a different person from either Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn, or Staten Island. After listening to a clip, you are asked to choose which borough you think the speaker’s accent hails from.
The quiz also asks you whether you are a native New Yorker, meaning you were born or raised in the city, pitting the ears of non-natives against those of transplants and tourists. After you answer each of the questions, you can see how many other participants voted like you did. Then, at the end of the quiz, the quiz reveals where each of the speakers is actually from, and, having taken the quiz ourselves, it’s probably safe to say that neither natives nor transplants are that good at picking out the accents of one’s neighbors.
The study behind the quiz hopes to shine a light on whether or not there is even such a thing as a borough accent. To check it out yourself, go here!