Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's My Accent?

I just happened to look at Thomas MacEntee's post on his accent, and I thought I would take the quiz myself. So, here are my results:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

All I can say is that the quiz results did not surprise me as I have lived in Michigan all of my life; however, I had been thinking about regional accents since I read Terry Snyder's post on regional words and accents.

Why? Well, as I have done census searches of my ancestors and their siblings over the past four or so years, I have come across a few unusual spellings of my surname that I would not have thought of if I had not done a first-name only search in the censuses. A case in point would be the 1880 Census. When I first searched for my ancestors in the 1880 U. S. Census, I could not find the family (except for the youngest child), although I had a fairly good idea of where they were living. To be honest, I had expected from day one of doing research that I would have to look for variations in the spelling of my last name. I am used to it as my last name is misspelled by other people from time to time. It is not unusual for me to find my ancestor's surname spelled as Oswald instead of Oswalt as these surnames are virtually pronounced the same. So, how was their surname misspelled? It was written as Olswath. Yes, even in the image. The census had not been mis-transcribed. Even more unusual about the spelling was that the family was not together; the family was split up and everyone was living in separate households. Yet, the spelling of the surname was almost consistent for the whole family. Since the surname was consistently misspelled, I have a feeling that either my ancestor had an accent or the census taker had an accent. At the moment I am leaning towards the possibility that my ancestor had the accent, but then, I can't say for sure. Either way, accents do influence how one might find an ancestor's name spelled in a record. I don't know how many beginning genealogists keep this in mind when they search for their ancestors, but it is a very good idea for beginners to keep this in mind.

1 comment:

Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

This is a great observation, Jessica. I'll have to put some thought into this as I work through family records.

Small-leaved Shamrock
A light that shines again
100 Years in America