American English dialects and pronunciation have been a point of interest from coast to coast among linguists for years.
The idea first appeared in mainstream culture in 1937, when George and Ira Gershwin’s song “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off,” was performed by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the film “Shall We Dance.”
In 1999, the Harvard Dialect Survey, a research project conducted by Professor Bert Vaux, used a series of questions, to collect information about what terms, word pairs and sounds are used in different parts of North America. Some of the words highlighted in the survey inspired the “Regional Dialect Meme” videos, where people from around the country taped their pronunciation versions of words and sayings.
The data from the Harvard study was eventually brought to life by PhD student, Joshua Katz, through a series of interactive dialect maps, which went viral after our Politics reporter, Walter Hickey, shared them on Business Insider.
In this 90-second clip below, we explore how some of the most contentious words and phrases are pronounced in the different parts of the country.
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