SURVEY: Regionally Speaking

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Science  08 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5596, pp. 1141
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5596.1141a

What do you call the tasty crustacean that graces your gumbo? In the Midwest, it's a crawdad; in the Northeast, a crayfish or crawfish. Find out more about how words are used and pronounced at a new Web site that tracks linguistic trends across the United States.

This site summarizes the results of a dialect survey of students and Web visitors conducted by linguist Bert Vaux and colleagues at Harvard University. Color-coded maps show the geographic distribution of responses to 122 questions asked of more than 5300 participants. Questions run the gamut from how to pronounce “aunt” and “caramel” to what you would call a long sandwich containing cold cuts. To most, it's a sub, but in New Orleans you will be ordering a poor boy and in Boston, a grinder.

www.hcs.harvard.edu/∼golder/dialect

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