Latest posts by Patricia Vollmer (see all)
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Have you heard of a bubbler? What about a hoagie? Do you pronounce that favored nut “PEE-can” or “pee-KHAN”?
I happened across an article on the North Carolina State University research blog featuring one of their statistics graduate students who has taken data from a decade-old Harvard University linguistics survey and turned it into graphical magic.
The survey is Dr. Bert Vaux’s Dialect Survey, which was conducted in 2002 and included over 30,000 Americans from all 50 states (even though the maps only show the contiguous 48 states).
What NCSU student Joshua Katz did was take the geolocated data from that survey and apply a “k-nearest neighbor” smoothing algorithm to estimate the likelihood of a person at every point in the U.S. using a particular dialect or word choice.
Katz then mapped the results for each of 122 survey questions. The results are very interesting and might even surprise you a bit. At the original results page, you can even drill down to each of several hundred contiguous U.S. cities and see the precise number of responses.