three questions to find out where someone is from

Dan Goodman dsgood at IPHOUSE.COM
Wed Oct 24 04:24:57 UTC 2012

On 10/23/2012 8:21 PM, Grant Barrett wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Grant Barrett <grantbarrett at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      three questions to find out where someone is from
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> It's a stunt we've seen in books, movies, and television (usually by British actors), but I've got a radio show listener who wants to know if it really can be done.
> In a casual, non-fieldwork situation -- a party, a bar, public transportation, etc. -- what would you say or ask in order to get someone to reveal their particular dialect, and, therefore, their likely point of origin -- without them being aware of what you're up to? Limit it to just three questions/conversation starters, if you can.
> I have a few ideas what might work, at least in the US, but I'll hold back pending responses.
> Grant Barrett
> grantbarrett at
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
I'm a rank amateur, but I'll give it a try:

1) I can't remember what this is called.
2) Ask for help with a partially-completed poem.   "I need a word which
rhymes with ___"
3) Can you think of any celebrity who talks without an accent?  Or a
dead one who did?
To me, Rod Serling had no accent.   I suspect that would pin me down to
within a few counties.

Just for the heck of it; my native dialect includes, among other
vocabulary items:  tractor-trailer, stringbean.

"Aaron" and "Erin" have different vowels.    So do "horse" and "hoarse."

Dan Goodman

The American Dialect Society -

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