Finally, a Quiz for International English Accents

Illustration for article titled Finally, a Quiz for International English Accents

Way back when we all took delight in taking the American dialect quiz, a lot of people wanted a similar one for the accents of the rest of the world. Thanks to Games With Words, we now have that quiz.

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"Which English?" is from MIT, and its focus is less on pronunciation and more on grammar. Says the website:

This experiment examines people's knowledge of English grammar. We are interested in how this is affected by demographic variables such as where you live, your age, and the age at which you began learning English.

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The quiz has many different kinds of grammar questions: matching pictures to the intent of the sentence, fill in the blanks, picking out grammatically-correct sentences from a list, etc. But what struck me the most while taking the quiz was that there may have been only one answer I would actually use, but I recognized other idioms as correct. For example:

Illustration for article titled Finally, a Quiz for International English Accents

I'm American, so I study. But I've read plenty of British books and seen plenty of British television and film, so I know that "read" can be correct. I restricted answers to only what I would say, I got American easily. When I answered with all the answers I thought were technically correct, I got South African as the top match. Does that mean South African is the midpoint between the United States and the United Kingdom?

It's an interesting quiz, so let us know how accurate this was for you.

Top image: Language Scramble by Eric Andresen/flickr

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DISCUSSION

This is the second time I've taken this (first time a few weeks ago), and got the same result. #1 was American Standard, which is probably right, but #2 both times was US Black Vernacular. That's a surprise to me, because I really don't think I tend to use ebonics grammatical constructions. Is it just because some of those constructions sound more natural because I'm more used to hearing them than international English accents? Also, I've been curious both times, in what vernacular does "the dog was pushed by the cat" mean exactly the opposite of what I think it means (as a Standard American speaker)? I'm totally unfamiliar with that going the other way, but most of the picture questions were testing out the issue of where you placed the verb's agency based on that type of grammatical construction.