This exercise is designed to help you crystallize your thoughts on how American English is spoken around the country. Here is a map of the United States divided up into its major dialect regions. Think about where in the country you feel people speak the most correct form of American English. Where do they speak the least correct form? For the purposes of this exercise CORRECT ENGLISH is defined as the variety (or varieties) of American that sound the most acceptable to you. You can use all the other numbers between 1 and 10, and you can repeat a score as many times as you like. (Areas can tie.) After you're done, click Submit to see your results. Compare them to the results of participants involved in formal research studies.
PLEASANT ENGLISH - which is explored in Part #2 of this
exercise- is defined as the variety of American
English that sounds the most appealing to you. Note that appealing can be
different from correct. An
appealing accent may sound charming, but you
may not consider it good English! For this reason your scores for
CORRECT ENGLISH in Part #1 and PLEASANT ENGLISH in Part #2 may
be the same, or they can be different.
Dennis Preston talks to Robert MacNeil about language perceptions and what he has learned by analyzing formal versions of the pleasant and correct exercises over the past two decades. Related article: Language Myth: They Speak Really Bad English Down South and in New York City! Dr. Preston describes his findings in detail.
reminds us that as we dig into the inner
workings of language we can often find examples to show that
actually be arbitrary, based
on who holds power, than by the
consistent application of grammar rules.
Regional Map courtesy of Drs. Cynthia G. Clopper and David B. Pisoni of the National Speech Project.
William and Flora Hewlett
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