Monday, November 06, 2006

E-mail Woes, You Bet'cha

I just learned this morning that, for at least the second time in the past few months, e-mails sent to me at brian[AT] aren't reaching me (substitute "@" for "[AT]"...I'm trying to fool the spammers' evil robots). Of course the scary thing is that these are the two situations I'm aware of; for all I know, the darn thing has only worked 15 minutes a day for the past year.

Part of the problem is surely my cut-rate site host, but part may be the intricate daisy-chain of forwarding instructions that send mail from that address to another address where I actually read it. From now on I'm skipping the middle man. If you want to reach me, I'm at:


I've never had a reliability problem with Comcast and trust that'll work. I've changed all the contact information on this blog and my website accordingly. Of course I'll keep the old address active, but use it at your own risk.

I hate not knowing what I might've missed. If you sent me an e-mail I should have responded to but didn't, I wasn't intentionally rude. I answer everything I get, generally within a day or two. If I get it. Feel free to try me again.

You Ain't From Around Here, Is'ya?
I found this fun quiz on Raina Telgemeier's blog. Answer some questions about how you pronounce various words and it'll tell you what kind of accent you have. Here's mine:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The Midland
The West
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Although I enjoyed the quiz, it got me wrong. I'm pretty sure my accent is "The West," a neutral newscasters' accent that the quiz calls "the lowest common denominator of American speech," and if I answer just a few questions differently I can tweak my result to come out that way. I suspect part of what the quiz picked up on is that, as a writer, I try to be careful and precise about what I say and how I say it. I exert a little effort to differentiate "stock" from "stalk" and "pin" from "pen."

On the other hand, although I've lived in the accentless West for more than 30 years, I did spend my speech-forming childhood in South Dakota. When I'm lazy I say "crick" for "creek" and I know what a davenport is. So I have to wonder if the quiz was clever and subtle enough to uncover my buried Midwestern roots. Or if it just got lucky.

Along those lines, check out the "Pop vs. Soda" website, where researchers have documented where in the U.S. people refer to a carbonated soft drink as "pop," "soda," "coke," or something else. I grew up a "pop" kid in South Dakota, as the map shows, and clearly remember feeling like a yokel when I first used the word in California.

I love regional accents and dialects. The fear that they'll go extinct as we all consume the same mass media doesn't seem to be coming to pass, as I understand it. What babies hear in their homes still seems to overwhelm whatever homogenization encroaches from outside. I hope that's true and remains so for a long time.

UPDATE: I just retook the accent quiz fresh (i.e., forgot what I answered the first time) and got "The West." Guess I'm a borderline case.


patricia said...

Ok, now I feel better. I was seriously beginning to wonder, Brian, 'cuz every time I emailed you, you never responded!

I'll have to email you again, and tell you everything I said. That is, if I can remember....

L said...

Ah, that quiz thing is weird!
Apparently I have a midland accent! What is a midland accent anyway, I've never even been there...Ah well...whatever.

Brian Fies said...

Patricia: Well, there's *some* people I don't want to talk to....

Nah, I'll always answer you. I'll look back through my e-mails and see if I've been a poor friend (but it's so easy to blame technology!).

L: Here's what the quiz says about the Midland accent: "'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." Sounds like you to me, but I don't know how that's supposed to be different from "The West" accent.

ronnie said...

AHA! I knew it, because you didn't respond to an email I sent you about how I gave some postcards to some Health Canada people working on the Anti-Tobacco file who I met through work, and as a result they bought multiple copies for both the Ottawa and Halifax offices. I'll see if I can dig it up and re-send.


D.D.Degg said...

Took the test, no doubt about it this
California Big Valley born and bred
American has a Midland accent.

Parents from Montana and Colorado.
I'll choose to not believe.

Borat said...

It say I have accent from wonderful nation of Kazakhstan! And if gypsy chained, I can to hit with the rock from distance 15 meters away! Success!

Milinda said...

Honey, you gots an accent. Really. You have the "North Bay" accent which is very different from the "Central Valley accent. I kid you not. People still ask me where I'm from.