Speaking of fishy things, I took that "American accent" quiz:
It told me I have no local identity. Dude! My identity is like, totally Californian! The people who have no local identity are the ones who sound like Californians but don't live here— you know; the people whose local identities have been destroyed by all the crap California spews out through Hollywood.
The questions on the quiz appear to have been selected from the much longer list of questions used in the Harvard Survey of North American Dialects. That survey was completed eight or nine years ago, but results are posted online so you can look at the data from your state to see if you fit in there or not. According to the California Breakdown (not a popular dance, by the way,) I depart from the majority of my fellow Californians on a number of words. Not much of a surprise, as California has a number of similar but noticeable and apparently sometimes overlapping dialects.
More surprising is that the questions made me realize that my accent has drifted over the years. I don't know if that's a result of my having moved from the southern part of the state to the north, but I never really noticed that this drift was taking place until I read the survey answers. For example, I had forgotten that, when I was a kid, I pronounced mayonnaise as a two-syllable word with the first syllable like "man," and somewhere along the way I've converted to a three-syllable pronunciation with the first syllable like "may" (though I do tend to weaken the "o" so it comes out almost like "mainnaise" but with just a hint of the "i" surviving. Maybe it's becoming a two-and-a-half syllable word.) I've shifted on other words, too; cauliflower, handkerchief, and the final syllable of each of the days of the week, for example. What's that about!? My childhood dialect would probably sound odd to me now.
Option "d" for one question on the survey made me laugh:
I haven't checked the breakdowns from other states, but I'm assuming there must be one or two where, among some larger percentage of the population, the word Realtor is considered too... plebeian, perhaps? Places where a lot of people live on estates maybe?24. realtor (a real estate agent) a. 2 syllables ("reel-ter") (40.70%) b. 3 syllables (real[a]tor, in other words "reel-uh-ter") (32.00%) c. 3 syllables (ree-l-ter) (22.70%) d. I don't use this word; I use "estate agent" (1.29%) e. other (3.31%)
Hearing people pronounce Realtor with an extra "a" in it, by the way, drives me batshit crazy. There's no "a" between those letters, dudes! Pay attention!
I also learned something new from the survey. Question 111. gives various terms used to describe the end of a loaf of bread. While I've generally called it either the crust or the heel, the survey says that 0.05 percent of Californians call it the shpitzel. I looked it up and it's apparently of Yiddish origin, which I don't find surprising. Shpitzel! What a great word! That's what I'm calling it from now on! Maybe instead of making tuna surprise I'll just make tuna salad and put it on a shpitzel.
Hey, there's a dipthong in my mainnaise!