I’m a little suspicious of the result. For the most part, it shows some influence from the places where I’ve lived. Almost everywhere I’ve ever lived is within the “more similar” areas, with the exception of Woodbury, NJ, which I think had a significant impact on the way I use language.
I think the reason I seem so Southern on the map is that I said that I use “y’all” as a second-person plural pronoun. Other than that one answer, which rang the Southern bell so loudly, I usually found myself distributed more widely across the country (the quiz gives you a map for each answer). And that would have been watered down if the test had allowed me to answer both “y’all” and “you,” which would have been accurate.
But hey, today, I’m going to be dismissive of anything the NYT has to say…
UPDATE: Suspicious of the “y’all” bias in the test, which I felt anchored me as Southern no matter how I answered the other questions (two of the three Southern cities in which the test placed me — neither of which I ever lived in — were based on “y’all”), I went in and took the test again. This time, I answered “you,” which is accurate because I say that for the plural as well (when I lived in New Jersey in the 2nd grade, I would say, “youse guys,” so I could have stretched a point and answered that way).
This time, the test threw me a couple of curves and asked questions about two other words. I was asked how I pronounce “lawyer” and whether I call soft drinks “soda” or “pop” or whatever. I knew that “soda” would place me in the South, but that was the obvious answer. What shocked me was that pronouncing “lawyer” properly — clearly enunciating “law” and “yer” — also marked me as Southern (specifically, as being from what Memphis calls the “Mid-South” — could that be because I used to cover courts in that region?). Two of the three cities in which I was placed (Birmingham and Columbus, GA) were based on that. Which is weird, because Memphis would have made more sense, it being the dominant population center of the region that lit up when I answered the way I did.
Oh — and it also asked me about a pet peeve. I HATE it when I hear people call nighttime attire “puh-JAM-uhs.” Obviously, it is “pa-JAH-mas.” But answering that correctly also made me Southern. Go figure (which I’m pretty sure is Yankee talk).