Beyond “Soda, Pop, or Coke”: Regional Dialect Variation in the Continental US (Joshua Katz)

These have been out for some time now, but I wanted to make sure to share. Joshua Katz, a PhD student in Statistics at NC State, created a set of maps, stunning in their simplicity, that shows the fine distinctions in dialect that color the American English language. Katz explains:

Using data from Bert Vaux’s dialect survey, we examine regional dialect variation in the continental United States. Each observation can be thought of as a realization of a categorical random variable with a particular parameter vector that is a function of location—our goal was to interpolate among these points in order to estimate these parameter vectors at a given location, making use of a combination of kernel density estimation and non-parametric smoothing techniques. Results in a smooth field of parameter estimates over the prediction region. Using these results, a method for mapping aggregate dialect distance is developed.

On a personal note, these maps made me away of my own language biases. Though I have lived on the coasts for my entire adult life and thought that my Oklahoma accent (which was albeit not that strong to begin with) had all but disappeared, it turns out I’ve held on to a few dialectical quirks. Crawdad, pick-AHN (pecan), pajahmas, man-aze (mayonnaise)–guilty as charged. Below are a small selection of the maps, but make sure to check out the full set of 122 maps here. (Though the server has been overloaded the last few times I have attempted to view the site!)

via Beyond "Soda, Pop, or Coke": Regional Dialect Variation in the Continental US.