Part 2 of our “What To Say and Where To Say It” series is here! This article will explain the lexical (word) and phonological (sound) differences that occur throughout the United States. Joshua Katz, a North Carolina State University doctoral student in statistics, created over one hundred maps of these features. So far we have looked at eight of the maps in previous articles and will continue to explore more. Knowing features that occur in certain areas can work in Accent Reduction by helping speakers sound more like a native in the region.


Accent Reduction: The Lexical Features

1.What do you call a traffic section in which several roads meet in a circle and you have to get off at a certain point?

Accent Reduction

It seems like Americans have yet to agree upon a majority winner term for this! While these terms are spread out out throughout the country, some terms still do stick out in areas among the rest. In New England, ‘rotary’ (yellow area) seems to be the common term to use to describe the phenomena. Majority of the east coast and south uses ‘traffic circle’ (red area) instead. On the other side of the spectrum, the west appears to prefer the ‘roundabout’ (blue area) term.

*In map 1, the green area indicated no term used for this definition

2. What do you call the miniature lobster that one finds in lakes and streams?

Accent Reduction

In blue, the term ‘crayfish’ takes over the Great Lakes region. In the plains region and some of the west coast, ‘crawdad’ (in green) is the term to use to blend in with the crowd. The rest of the U.S. tends to lean towards the term ‘crawfish’ (in red)…especially in Louisiana!


Accent Reduction: The Phonological Features

1. Lawyer- ‘Loy-er’ vs. ‘Law-er’

Accent Reduction

In red, is the pronunciation of lawyer as ‘loy-er’. The east coast, west coast, plains, and Midwest use this pronunciation more. In blue, is the pronunciation of lawyer as ‘law-yer’. Majority of this pronunciation is used in the south, minus states such as Florida and Texas.

2. Mary/merry/marry

Accent Reduction

In red, all 3 terms are pronounced the same. The overwhelming majority of the United States coincides on this.The first outlier occurs in the yellow area. Geographically, the yellow area happens to be where Philadelphia is located. People seem to pronounce ‘Mary’ and ‘merry’ the same way, but ‘marry’ is pronounced differently. The second outlier is in green. The states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are located in green. This means that all 3 of the terms, are pronounced differently!


Accent Reduction: Where to learn more about it

This is just one of our many blog articles that help to educate and inform the public on Accent Reduction. If you’re interested in learning about more ways to reduce your accent, check out our free Accent Reduction screening. Within 48 hours you will receive results regarding your accent on a severity scale of 1 (very heavy) to 7 (very mild) accent. If you’re looking to start on your Accent Reduction, we have an office and online starter program options! Within 12 sessions, all clients have saw a 50% of more reduction in their accent.

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