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Sunday, 10 March 2019

We Know Where You’re From

The British-Irish Dialect Quiz

British-Irish Dialect Quiz: results

Growing up in a unicultural Yorkshire town (as they nearly all were in the nineteen-fifties), I’m not sure when I first realised there were variations in the way people spoke. I remember a boy climbing around on Filey Brigg with a hammer who said he was “Luckin’ fer fawssls”, and the pen-friends from Bingley, organized by one of the teachers at junior school, who, when we met them, sounded different and used strange words. To my childhood eyes, they even looked different. Goodness, even people from Eastrington and Howden spoke and sometimes looked different to people from across the river in Swinefleet or Rawcliffe: places within a five-mile radius. 

Later, meeting different people and living around the country, accents fascinated me. I love hearing Buchan Scots and Asian Yorkshire, and used to have great fun winding-up my South London mother-in-law as to whether it was “rasp-berries” or “raazbriz”.  She could give as good as she got.

So, when I read about the British-Irish Dialect Quiz on the New York Times web site, of all places, it was irresistible. I was bound to try it out and join thousands of other bloggers writing about it.

It asks 25 questions about how you pronounce various words, such as “scone” or “last”, and what words you use for certain things, such as for feeling cold or for the playground game in which one child chases the rest and the first person touched becomes the pursuer. It then gives you a map of Great Britain with your area of origin shaded in. If you want, you can continue with a further 71 questions to refine the results further.

It got me pretty much spot-on. Words like “breadcake” and “twagging”, and the way I say ‘a’ and ‘u’, give me away most.

The explanation of the results is interesting too. It mentions that in Britain and Ireland, unlike North America, local dialect sometimes used to change wildly within ten or twenty miles. Such village-by-village distinctions have now eroded, but the article suggests there is no evidence that regional differences are disappearing, even in the face of technological influences. I find that reassuring.

Some other posts about accents and language:

Get Tret Better
M Dunham Are Crap
People who can’t say ‘ull
Get back on t’land whe’re y’belong


  1. It was surprisingly accurate for me in the end since the highlight on the map was moving about with each answer I gave. I had to choose carefully for some words because some of my online friends use ones I wouldn't normally use, but find myself occasionally adopting them. It made me appreciate terms I grew up with in the Midlands compared with ones I have heard more since moving to Wales. The term 'batch' for a "small round piece of baked yeast dough" for example, is what I not so long ago learned is a pretty unique term used in the area I grew up in and the quiz was spot-on with that, whereas in Wales it would be called a bap. In the end the map for me reflects that my 'mum' comes from Sheffield but I grew up in the Midlands, and how reluctant I am to be fully adopted by the Welsh!

    1. I think it works best if you think back to words you used and how you spoke in childhood.

  2. -very interesting quiz! Based on my results, I am definitely not from your neck of the woods. :D

    1. I would bet that, despite being in the New York Times, it works a lot better for native British people than San Franciscans. Although I know of someone in Canada who said their grandma retained her Yorkshire accent even after thirty or forty years there. I'd be interested to know what your results showed.

    2. Thanks for following me. I think I have a few email followers but only put the blogger follower widget there recently.

    3. You're welcome. Glad to be here. The blogger follower widget makes it easy for lazy folk like me to follow blogs.

  3. I have always said 'Skoan'. Your Mum is right about 'Rarzbrizz' of course, and 'Larst' not 'Lasst' is the only way to say that word. (As in 'Barff, not 'Baff') :)
    The chasing game you refer to was known as 'It'. Once touched, you were 'It'.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Have you tried the quiz? It's accurate for British speakers. When we moved back to Yorkshire my wife who is from the south and works in health and social care had to modify her accent pretty quickly. It did not endear you to people to go into their homes and ask "How well do you manage with barthing?"


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