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Which English? (gameswithwords.org)
121 points by colinprince on June 4, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 136 comments

I find myself thinking of scenarios where most choices would be correct. I play ____ the soccer team.

Pleased to meet you. I am an active sporty guy and 'I play in the soccer team'.

Pleased to meet you. I am a tick, a playful little parasite. I like to jump from person to person in small groups. Today, 'I play on the soccer team'.

Pleased to meet you. I am a playful infectious disease. 'I play inside the soccer team'.

Pleased to meet you, I am Lot's son. As you may have learned in a famous bible story, my mother turned into a salt statue while taking a casual glance at the destruction of Sodom. Less known is that she belonged to a soccer team and the whole team also turned to stone while in the middle of an important game. Today, the team has become a famous landmark and the grounds for a soccer school to which I belong. 'I play at the soccer team'.

This has to be best best comment I've seen about the project yet! You mind if I use this as an example for my students? (I mean, I will anyway. I just want to know if you mind.)

> (I mean, I will anyway. I just want to know if you mind.)

That's an excellent way to ask for permission while being clear that you don't need permission.

I'm always wary of asking for permission in situations where it's not absolutely needed. What if the person says no? Then if I go ahead and do it anyway, I look like a jerk.

I'll have to remember the way you did it.

So if it doesn't list English in the top three native language guesses, does that mean my English is very ungrammatical, or merely that it's ungrammatical in a particular way? All three languages were Scandinavian but I have no connection there.

The NY Times had a similar quiz that attempted to predict your region and, IIRC, predicted mine fairly closely. I didn't get such accurate results this time so I'm wondering if my grammar is slipping ...

The #1 guess for me was Norweigian, while English was #2. I've spent all my life in the American South.

Aww, thanks :) Go ahead.

I wouldn't say any of those options.

I'm British and I would play for the soccer team (well the football team, but I'm not going to quibble about that).

You can also play with the soccer team. Which team do you play with at the university? I play with the soccer team. (rather than the rugby or netball or basketball or whatever teams)

And yes, they should have used 'football', and let each locality think they meant a different sport :)

Maybe it's a regional thing (I'm from the East Midlands), but playing with the team has a different connotation from playing for the team to me - although both are valid sentences.

Playing for the team suggests that I'm part of that team. Playing with the team would say to me that I'm not part of them, but I've been co-opted for a game or something like that.

Oddly, I would say "playing with the orchestra" rather than "playing for ...".

I call both Soccer and AFL Football, and call Rugby, Footy. I only ever talk about AFL with my mother, Soccer with friends and Rugby with no one.

It can be really confusing when all three are somewhat popular in one country.

League or Union?

I'd call rugby league "footy", but rugby union will always be "ruggers".

Leauge, I just call Union: Union.

The way I speak...

Pleased to meet you. I am an active sporty guy and 'I play on the soccer team'.

Also, the last variation, would be 'I play at The Soccer Team'. Landmarks are (usually) capitalized.

True. I was thinking of some way not to capitalize it, any ideas?

I'm a musician, and I ridicule the athletic group I hate the most using my music. 'I play at the soccer team'.

Meld Apple's iProducts with Google Play, then launch it at a team's media event: iPlay at the soccer team.

I thought the same, then decided to answer the questions with the assumption that I didn't require a tortured situtation to make something grammatical. There's always an edge case, but the quiz was looking for common use.

Also, where I am, a sporty person can either play 'in' or 'on' the soccer team, no parasite required.

What it's testing for:

1. Passive alternation

2. It-clefting (simply `clefting` in some circles)

3. Another it-cleft?

4. It-cleft + possible scope ambiguity

5. Quantifier scope ambiguity (do you get quant raising, basically)

6. More clefts? Don't recall, but maybe they're mixing it up with the overt complementizer (`that`).

7. Ditto above

8. Passive construction again

9. More quantifier scope stuff

10. Lexicon inventory (modal shall is antiquated in most (all?) dialects)

11. Idunno, phrasing. Not-quite-collocate decisions

12. Aspect-tense interaction, I guess...

13. 'Conjugation', or how do you express tense?

14. Lexical selection/wh-feature spellout (does `+person` override the 'incorrect' case-marked `whom`?)

15. Skipped this one due to a double-click, too much coffee

16. Even more lexicon stuff

17. Lexical selection, or 'what kind of thing needs a determiner?'

...okay this is tedious. My point was going to be that a lot of these, especially the syntactic construction ones, seem very specific. I don't know of any dialects of English for example that switch the assignment of roles (A speech delivered Bill, eg) so freely as some of these questions suggest, and I thought all dialects had passive construction and it-clefting. Maybe I'll go through again and answer all the wrong things and see where it thinks those features are from.

Anyway, this was interesting. If this sort of thing also interests you, waste the rest of your day on The World Atlas of Language Structures! [1] It's a ton of fun.

[1] http://wals.info/

> I don't know of any dialects of English for example that switch the assignment of roles (A speech delivered Bill, eg)

This is a complete guess, but perhaps this exists to identify english-as-a-second-language speakers from languages where this form exists?

(English is my first and only language and I know very little about languages. The test guessed correctly that I am Australian)

Yeah, that's entirely possible.

I noticed an instance where a collective noun had were after it rather than was. I.e "Apple were the largest NASDAQ company" rather than "Apple was the largest NASDAQ company". This is typical of British English[1].

[1] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/matching-verbs-to...

Keep in mind that with surveys like this, especially online ones, it is important to have trap questions that will indicate if the responder is answering randomly and/or jokingly. So you may be correct that some answers are just wrong for everyone.

Interesting case study here: I got very different results in my two attempts at the quiz, based on how I use school grammar and generative grammar rules in answering the questions.

In my first attempt, the algorithm guessed that my English dialect was 1. Singaporean 2. US Black Vernacular 3. American (Standard), and it guessed that my native language was 1. Vietnamese 2. Chinese 3. English.

Then I turned off my school grammar, including some generative grammar rules (from linguistics) in my head, and just truly went with my guts. This particularly affected the answers I gave to later questions. The second time the algorithm guessed that my dialect was 1. American (Standard) 2. Canadian 3. US Black Vernacular and that my native language was 1. English 2. Norwegian 3. Dutch.

This second set of results was very much off the mark but conformed to what I intended my answers to be.

My background: a native Thai speaker, born and raised in Thailand, started learning a bit of 'real' English at about eleven, lived in the US for two years when doing my Masters. I'm currently in Thailand but I mostly read and write in English for about fourteen years. My everyday spoken language is still Thai, but most of the movies, music, multimedia I consume are in English.

Possible implications:

1. Over-application of school grammar could result in unnatural use of language.

2. With enough exposure to proper language materials, non-natives can get pretty close to the native speaker in grammatical knowledge, even fairly subtle ones, at least according to the short and incomplete quiz here.

If any American English native speaker has time on their hands, I'd be grateful if you can tell me the differences between my writings (you can click on my username for more samples) and those of an educated native American English speaker.

So in skimming your comment history, I'm no english teacher; your use of past tense seems almost forced.

While as far I'm aware correct grammatically, your last paragraph gives plenty of hints that you're non-native: "If any American English native SPEAKERS HAVE [picky] time on their hands, I'd be grateful if you COULD tell me ("let me know of" maybe) ANY differences between my WRITING [big one here] (you can click on my username for an archive of my comments) and THAT of an educated native American English speaker.

There may be subtleties in your sentence structure that you'd be better off asking a linguist about; but you definitely come off as both educated and non-native in skimming.

Thanks a lot for the comment. I kind of notice that I overuse past tense a bit too, I'll try to go more with my guts next time. My general lesson: Oftentimes when I try to apply school grammar or logic, I tend to be a bit more off than when I apply the patterns I absorb through experience.

'Writings' is an interesting case. I believe mental lexicon is a lot harder for non-natives to grasp, simply because there are a lot more of them and English does not always treat them consistently. For example, I thought that a collection of written work is plural, while apparently you consider it a collection or an abstract object, and therefore used without an article and cannot in general be in the plural form.

However, this is what I found using Google 'define writing':

  2. written work, especially with regard to its style or quality. 
  * books, stories, articles, or other written works.
  plural noun: writings
  "he was introduced to the writings of Gertrude Stein"
So, dear native speakers, which is more appropriate in my use in the GP comment? writings or writing? :-)

There was another good post on here I saw recently on how we're using bad dictionaries, http://jsomers.net/blog/dictionary

For example the better (while old) Websters Revised only has these two entries for "writings":

  3. A book; any written composition; a pamphlet; as the writings of Addison.
  5. Writings, plu. conveyances of lands; deeds; or any official papers.
It specifically mentions that writings are more formal and pretty spot on for how we use the word.

TLDR; use this http://machaut.uchicago.edu/websters 1913 websters dictionary rather than the newer, while correct, dictionaries that don't capture vernacual. It's a shame a state of our dictionaries.

> If any American English native speaker has time on their hands, I'd be grateful if you can tell me the differences between my writings (you can click on my username for more samples) and those of an educated native American English speaker.

> So, dear native speakers, which is more appropriate in my use in the GP comment? writings or writing? :-)

Definitely "writing". An author might refer to books that he wrote as "writings", but it would sound odd (or even pretentious) for anyone to refer to their posts on HN that way. Besides, you're not really asking about your previous posts, but about your ability to write English in general. So it's your "writing" (in general) rather than your "writings" (the particular posts you've made here).

As a Brit:

"go with my gut" rather than "guts", and I'd probably phrase it as "...try to go with my gut more next time".

"Oftentimes" sounds unnatural, not wrong but archaic; "Often" sounds more natural there.

"mental lexicon" is singular, but you've said "a lot more of them"; should probably be "a lot more of it". The opening of that sentence sounds a bit clipped; I might say "I believe the mental lexicon..." though that doesn't sound perfect either.

"writings" definitely sounds wrong for a collection of posts here; when you're talking about "the writings of x" it implies something more formal. I probably would've said "posts" or the like, but "writing" fits.

With respect to the sister comment, I'd have gone with writing not writings. Also, the sentence "I'm currently in Thailand but I mostly read and write in English for about fourteen years." doesn't strike me as quite right. There a tense switch from present to past without modifying the verb. I'd have probably written 'I've' instead of 'I'.

That said, your written English is excellent and I probably would not have noticed anything if I hadn't been looking for it.

I guess this whole comment thread on the OP is a small additional evidence of how complex and subtle the grammar of a language is. It varies not only with the perspective and emphasis of the message, but also with the conventions of each dialect.

Perhaps "I'm currently in Thailand and I've been reading and writing mostly in English for about fourteen years." would be better? The unedited version which you found strange could be the case of erring on the side of oversimplifying the sentence grammar.

I upvoted your reply and all of the cousin replies too. Thanks for all of your responses.

Better, though to sound natural you'd want to drop the "in". (Also "be a case of" rather than "be the case of", and "some small additional evidence" or "a small additional piece of evidence" rather than "a small additional evidence").

(Hope none of this is too dispiriting; I'm being quite nitpicky)

Yeah, it told me my dialect is Singaporean and that I'm a native English speaker. Both off the mark, I started learning English when I was 8 and I've only lived a year in London when I was 26.

One of my favourite things to do in online forums such as Stack Overflow, where there are many non-native English speakers, is to determine where a person is from based on which grammatical errors they make. It’s more subtle than accent or other cues, but it is remarkably consistent.

I followed Andrew Ng's Machine Learning course on Coursera. The course itself was great, but halfway through I realized he had to be from Malaysia or Singapore, because he started talking about "alphabets" instead of "letters".

As a former (non-native) resident of Singapore, that's one of those features of the local lingo that makes me shudder every time I see it, but it's probably already crossed the line from "mistake" to "accepted local evolution". It certainly is well entrenched, as I've seen it in bank letters about choosing good passwords, and it's in this university policy as well:

Have both upper and lower case alphabets


Quite a few other telltale Singlish features in there as well, eg. the use of "staff" to refer to a single employee and using "credential" instead of "credentials". Both of these are rooted in how Chinese and Malay lack a grammatical plural.

Yeah, besides word choice (“I have a doubt” = “I have a question” in Indian English) you also have more interesting things like discourse deixis—“consider that code: …” instead of “consider this code: …”—or how uncertainty is expressed—“some” instead of “a” for example shows up in Daft Punk’s “Something About Us”.

Interesting! "I have a doubt" is also a common mistake for us Spanish speakers. This is because for us "tengo una duda" is an acceptable way of saying "I have a question".

German here. It felt _really_ weird when my American boss asked me whether I have a doubt. Yes, most people in his team are from India.

My old boss was once setting up a patient when he asked where she was from, "as I have a good ear for accents, but I can't tell if you're from Rhodesia or South Africa". Her response was "It is good - halfway through my childhood, we moved from Rhodesia to South Africa"...

I find it really easy to tell people who are native german speakers, based on learning german for years, and having had grammar drilled into me. I dont think there's been a time when I've picked up on it, and been wrong

Hm, curious. What would be tell-tale signs of a native German speaker? :)

I've noticed some Germans tend to mix up the present perfect and the infinitive, since they are the same in German.

For example, "I eat" vs "I'm eating" vs "I'm going to eat".

Online they often combine two-word compound nouns into one word.

One question in particular got me thinking that this quiz could also identify people with a scientific background, who read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, or in general people not inclined towards future shock:

> Fill in the blank. Check all correct answers.

> The sun is in ________.

> ☑ the sky

> ☑ a sky

> ...

At the end it says: "Calculating score... Meanwhile, please answer these questions."

At first I was like, "They're kicking off a deferred job for that?"

And then I was like, "Oh, they just want me to answer questions."

They appear to list three guesses for variety of English for everybody who takes the quiz. They correctly spotted that I'm a native speaker of American (standard) English and listed the other two possibilities as Canadian (I do listen to radio from Canada, by rebroadcast on Minnesota Public Radio) and ebonics (which everyone in the United States hears sooner or later).

The guesses for my language background were spot on too. Like many Minnesotans, I have a few dialectal usages that reflect Scandinavian influence, and besides English as a first language, the other two languages guessed for me were Norwegian and Swedish. I have Norwegian ancestry (in part), so I come by those dialect habits honestly.

Hm. It guessed Finnish, Greek and Russian for my native language (German in reality) and a South African/Singaporean/New Zealand accent, where I have no idea how that could have happened – certainly not because I spent any amount of time in these countries (I didn’t) or consumed primarily content originating in these countries (also not the case, maybe apart from LotR…).

Finnish, Greek and Russian also don’t appear to have any connection to other Germanic languages…

Counterdata: I've lived in California my entire life, my only other language exposure in day-to-day life is Spanish, and I have no Norwegian ancestry or local connections. It still thought my second- and third-most likely native languages were Swedish and Norwegian. I'm guessing those languages have ease picking up "native" English.

32 years in California, then 22 in Washington. I too got Norwegian and Swedish as the guess 2nd and 3rd guess for native language.

For my English variant, Standard American was first, then Canadian, then Singaporean.

Another Californian/Norwegian match here.

I also got Ebonics/Southern Black English as a second guess. I imagine that could be due to having family from Louisiana.

> I told Sally I was worried about the exam. She said, "Don't worry. ____________"

> She'll be right!

I feel like this question is cheating. This could be the only question in the survey and it would be able to identify Australians.

Why would Australians say this? Is it because for them an exam is a "she"? (disclaimer: not a native English speaker myself, though the test guessed "American English (Standard)").

I don't know the origins, but we seem to use 'she' as a synonym for 'the situation'.

She'll be right. She's all good. She's apples.


Idiom: “she’ll be right, mate.” It’s generic, meaning “it will be alright.”

Despite all this, it still reckoned me en-NZ before en-AU. Oh, the shame! 😉

I clicked "She'll be right!" just to test if this was true and none of the results guess me to be Australian. I had originally thought the same as you did but was pleasantly surprised.

Being Australian, I selected that answer but it actually guessed I was a New Zealander first (2 and 3 were Australian and South African respectivly)

I didn't pick that option and it still put my number 2 dialect as Australian.

The other option was to ask "_________ Oi! Oi! Oi!"

Yeah, that one was rather fishy.

It guessed correctly that I was Australian.

She'll be apples when she discovers this.

I finder interesting that they don't do a good job at breakin up no American English. We ain't just one big ole' dialect, ya know?

I hail from downeast Maine (downeastah) and it thought I was a native dutch speaker, some fucking horse sh## right there, let me tell ya.... My linguist friends can do a much better job at pinnin me, spot down to the county, after college and WITHOUT my tryin. Aight.

Seriously, might want get some pronunciation questions in there—at 314M people the US is a pretty big chunk that they group into only two (that I saw) dialects, ebonics and standard. Of course being a youngin and gone to school, I've probably picked up one or two outa townah habits in my talkin.

FYI I'm ampin it up, if haven't noticed; but I do talk this way around my "muddah" so I don't get muckeled up one side down the otha—still no idea what that means but it doesn't sound nice, maybe a slapping, bitching, no idea... but holy hell do I need a translator to understand my grandparents are saying, this isn't American standard down here (and why is it always down?)

The same is true of the other dialects as well, even good old Mother England's. Compare the ways in which the upper class and the chavs talk. North versus south. Different vernacular, different grammar types, innit?

Yeah seemed more a which language did you originally speak rather than what english do you speak, questionnaire. I seriously can't understand what half of the generation before me is saying on my mom's side—it isn't my English for sure.

For the US, also check out the short quiz from the NY Times [1] based on the Harvard Dialect Survey from ~10 years ago.

It got both mine and my spouse's hometown area dead right.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/...

That was very interesting for me, an Australian living in the US. Phoenix specifically. I'm constantly amazed at how quickly American's can spot that I'm an Aussie.

I've gotten pretty used to the obvious different words between Australia and the US; rubbish = trash, car boot = trunk, pram = stroller, take away = carry out / to go, etc.

However this quiz highlighted a bunch that I wouldn't have been aware of, such as no one in the US knowing what soft-drink is and nature strip wasn't even on the list for "the grass beside a road".

I got Ebonics. This quiz is whack.


dialects 1. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics 2. Singaporean 3. American (Standard)

This is really off! My english is a mix between various London accents. However, since I often hang out with foreigners, I may be more acceptant of sentences with weird grammar. That would explain the Ebonics.

native language 1. Italian 2. Chinese 3. Dutch

Although I hangout with Chinese people, I don't speak any of those languages. Plus, it would be good for a language study test to differentiate Cantonese, Mandarin...

The model doesn't do a good job of telling apart the various Chinese languages (yet), so we aren't including that distinction in the feedback (yet).

I just took the test a second time, and I'm getting the exact same results, appart from my native languages which changed to: 1. Italian 2. Dutch 3. English

Well, that must be it.

Good point: "I may be more acceptant of sentences with weird grammar."

Ah see what you did dere.

For english dialect I got:

1. Singaporean 2. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics 3. American (Standard)

and for native language I got:

1. Swedish 2. Norwegian 3. English

I'm 100% native English

> I'm 100% native English

Same here regarding habitat (Gloucester), my results were:

Dialect: 0. English 1. Welsh 2. South African

Native: 0. English 1. Finnish 2. Romanian

But my mother is Welsh, and I lived in Cardiff for three years. I'd say that is fairly accurate.

I got 1. Singaporean English 2. US Black Vernacular/Ebonics 3. American English (standard). My dialect is standard Midwestern. (Or if you want to get really technical [1], Inland North.)

[1]: http://aschmann.net/AmEng/

It seems that the distance between American English and AAVE is very small, which is natural I guess.

I got 1. Ebonics 2. New Zealand 3. English (England) for dialect and 1. Turkish 2. German 3. Finnish for native language. I'm native Chinese currently living in California.

That's right. In our data, Standard American, Canadian, & AAVE are all pretty similar. Partly that's a function of the questions we ask. But partly that's because there's a clear divide between the north american dialects and the UK-based ones.

Wait, does it actually say "Ebonics" instead of "AAVE" or something like that? No linguist uses that word.

"US Black Vernacular / Ebonics" is the exact phrase used.

Which I also received.

Same here, though I am an immigrant(been living in NYC), nobody has ever told me that I speak Ebonics.

A surprising number of immigrant groups pick up elements of Ebonics in their English dialects. In my area non-Black groups with notable dialectal markers typical of Ebonics seem to include Vietnamese, Koreans, Salvadorians and various Arab groups (not as common).

Same. What up with that?

Millenials can typing?

It was absolutely spot on for me. I grew up speaking native (Canadian) English in a Cantonese-speaking home in a Portuguese neighbourhood, and it picked up on all three of those exactly.

>Up the audience's expectations, the critics built.

I just got that sentence on asking if it were grammatical or not. I believe that is referred to as yoda grammar?

>Our top three guesses for your English dialect: >1. Canadian >2. American (Standard) >3. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics

Number 1 is correct. However I would admit to speaking american, and I did listen to a lot of rap growing up, so ebonics might be reasonable? But I am a white kid from the rich suburbs, so it's a bit odd but possible I suppose.

Other: impossible to complete on iOS due to insane drop down boxes that don't allow one to make or even view the proper selection. So, I suppose, I'm in the entitled American group. Finally, popular.

edit: dead I guess? If anyone has showdead on and sees this, I'd be much obliged if you could take a gander at my history and theorize as to what got me banned. Email in profile. Thanks in advance.

None of the top three guesses are correct in my case, not even close. I wonder if this is because they have more data for Chinese and Portuguese (Brazil) speakers.

    Our top three guesses for your English dialect:
    1. South African
    2. Welsh (UK)
    3. New Zealand

    Our top three guesses for your native (first) language:
    1. Chinese
    2. Portuguese
    3. English

Same for me, Indian:

1. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics 2. New Zealand 3. Singaporean Our top three guesses for your native (first) language:?

1. German 2. Dutch 3. English - See more at: http://www.gameswithwords.org/WhichEnglish/done.php#sthash.i...

#3 (Singapore) is a little bit close and #3 is correct.

Brazilian here and I got

1. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics

2. Singaporean

3. American English


1. Dutch.

2. American

3. Greek

I've noticed that prepositions seem to change usage over time in different regions. For example, "different to" has become common in British vernacular, even though "different from" is still typical for formal British English and in American vernacular. Sometimes I hear "different than" but I'm not sure where it is commonly used.

Is there really a significant population that self identifies as speaking Ebonics?

That whole methodology seems rife with biases. The instructions are in standard american english. The pictures are confusing. The input controls are broken on mobile. I reject written sentences ad ungrammatical even though I hear and speak them fine.

The instructions ask you to choose what feels right, not what you learnt at school to be grammatical. So you should expect poor results if you rejected right-feeling sentences.

Maybe not Ebonics, but probably AAVE. It's a pretty significant dialect in North America.

Worked very well for me, correctly guessing my dialect which is spoken by relatively few people (not one of the 'standard' ones). I definitely found this surprising, especially considering I haven't lived in my home country for the better part of a decade. Very cool.

I'm from Australia. It thought I was Welsh. Apart from a strong sheep segment in the economy and being considered second-class by the English (and who isn't?), there's not much in common between the two countries... :)

Possibly because Welsh English is quite close to Australian English according to this blog post:


Interesting visualisation, but if I'm reading it correctly, a smaller number means more similar, and the number for Australian->Welsh is the third highest number for the Australian dialect, suggesting that they're more dissimilar than others.

Hrm, that's if you mouseover Australian. If you mouseover Welsh, Welsh->Australian is indeed the lowest number of the list. So, according to these numbers, Welsh is most like Australian, but Australian is least(ish) close to Welsh.


Perhaps the Welsh emigrated here more prevalently than anywhere else (excluding the Welsh-speaking enclave of Patagonia!)

Anyhow, its guesses:

Nationalities: 1 Aus 2 NZ 3 Welsh Native Language: 1 English 2 Dutch 3 Swedish

I'm not sure where the germanic influence is supposed to have come from. The only foreign languages I've studied have been Latin, French and Spanish.

I'm from India and a native Hindi speaker. The algorithm got a result far away from the correct one.

Our top three guesses for your English dialect:?

1. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics 2. Singaporean 3. English (England)

Our top three guesses for your native (first) language:?

1. Russian 2. Turkish 3. Polish

Top 3 guesses:

   1. American (Standard)
   2. Singaporean
   3. Canadian
(#1 is correct, #3 is close)

Native Language

   1. English
   2. Norwegian
   3. Chinese
(#1 is correct, interesting about the other 2)

It wasn't until after I had finished that I realized I was mixing up two distinct concepts in my responses:

1) What I would consider correct phrasing for my own speech, and

2) What I would accept as correct when spoken by someone else

Creepy :)

Our top three guesses for your English dialect:

1. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics 2. American (Standard) 3. Canadian - See more at: http://www.gameswithwords.org/WhichEnglish/#sthash.yDkuaast....

Our top three guesses for your native (first) language:

1. Dutch 2. English 3. Norwegian - See more at: http://www.gameswithwords.org/WhichEnglish/#sthash.yDkuaast....

And yes: I'm Dutch.

I'm Dutch as well, and I got:

1. American (Standard) 2. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics 3. Singaporean

1. English 2. Dutch 3. Swedish

I think it's cool that my English is good enough for it to judge me a native speaker, while it still has enough information to see similarities to other Dutch people who took the quiz. Swedes' English is quite good as well, so that makes sense as a third guess.

No idea where "US Black Vernacular / Ebonics" and "Singaporean" are coming from, however. I'd be interested to see which choices exactly make my English similar to those dialects.

I got Ebonics, and it guessed that I am Vietnamese or Finnish. I consider myself to speak standard American English, and I am a Korean. Not enough training data? Is that why it's on HN???

No idea why Finnish, but the Korean population near where I live often speak with notable dialectal markers indicative of Ebonics. I think it comes from the relative popularity of hip-hop culture in Korean popular culture.

This interview is a great example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeb-PJJN9sk

Well, plus I actually grew up in the states!

"It was the monkey that pushed the bear." What possible room for interpretation is there here? Unless you're not paying attention.


I think this thing is broken. I did catch myself almost selecting something ridiculous-sounding a few times because I didn't read the sentence close enough, though; maybe that's what happened. But there were a ton of "US Black Vernacular" options that I never picked.

I guess most people from "ebonics" postcodes who took this quiz and trained it are more educated than their neighbors so they ended up picking the US standard English options like you did.

I'm impressed - it suggested New Zealand as #1, and Australia as #2. Raised in Australia and New Zealand, with kiwi parents.

I got Australia #1, New Zealand #2. Born and raised in Australia and never been to NZ. Pretty similar dialects though I guess :)

It said I was from New Zealand. I've never been to New Zealand in my life.

From Costa Rica, learned english in Scotland as a kid but had american teachers growing up. They guessed:

    1. American (Standard)
    2. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics
    3. Singaporean

    1. Norwegian
    2. English
    3. Dutch
Seems like Singaporean should be penalised just by mere demographics/statistics.

Being born, raised in living in Scotland I got:

1. Scottish (UK)

2. English (England)

3. Irish (Republic of)

Surprisingly accurate.

Wow, this is pretty good. It guessed my Finnish native language. Although it said my English dialect is 1. US Black Vernacular / Ebonics 2. Singaporean 3. New Zealand. Well, I don't think I have any specific dialect so it might be just pretty random.

Didn't peg Hawaiian Pidgin even though I purposefully answered a couple questions that way (like "stay x") while choosing standard grammar otherwise. Top was just standard American English, the other top three were just like black Vernacular.

Would love to see more details as to WHY I got the suggested responses. As a prescribed grammarian, born and raised in the northeast US, I was definitely surprised to see Canadian and ebonics. Assuming not enough training data yet...?

When we're done with the project, we'll put up a final version that actually gives you a breakdown of why you get the score you do, what parts of the world certain grammar rules are particularly common -- all the things people (including me!) want to know.

We're actually getting some of that up bit-by-bit as data comes in (you can watch for it on our site blog). Thank you to everyone who has been participating so far.

Error message: > Our apologies. Your results didn't transfer correctly to this page. Don't worry -- your data was saved. If you've forgotten what your results were, you can email gameswithwords@gmail.com and tell us your age, country, and what time you finished the task, we may be able to figure out what your results were. We apologize for the inconvenience.

I see - the test writers must be Canadian...

edit: and since you're here, that message occurred in http://www.gameswithwords.org/WhichEnglish/done.php# after the result had been displayed, after which NoScript or AdBlockPlus interfered when I clicked on the question mark.

Prescribed English grammar often has little to do with the actual vernacular. I've seen many prescribed "grammatical" sentences that are woefully awkward to my very native English speaking ears, while the "ungrammatical" but more common form feels much more comfortable.

It didn't catch my northeastern either, suggested I was native dutch :/

I'm Brazilian, and their top guess for native language was Portuguese. Good work!

Wow. I was born in NZ, and my family are all Kiwi's. I moved to Australia when I was 7. The guesses for my dialect are 1. NZ and 2. Australia! Very well done. I'm curious to see how good the algorithm ends up being.

The guesses for my dialect were 1. NZ and 2. Singapore but I'm Icelandic and have never lived anywhere else. (I'm not saying that it's flawed but I thought it was interesting)

This is really cool, I didn't know that so many of those sentences might be considered valid.

It got my country right with it's second guess (New Zealand), which is pretty good considering what a small sample of kiwis it must have.

Ticking both "she'll be right" and "it'll be OK" was probably the big giveaway.

My results: 1. US Black Vernacular 2. Singaporean 3. New Zealand

and my native language: 1. Greek 2. Finish 3. Russian

It is actually German. I am trying to find a pattern here, but i believe these results generated statistically/by machine learning?

I also got Singaporean and New Zealand as well as the three native languages (albeit in different ordering) while being a German native speaker. I’d claim it to be mere chance that these are somehow related to standard German sentence structuring, especially the use of the passive in the first few questions.

English speaking Canadian:

  1. New Zealand
  2. South African
  3. Welsh (UK)

  1. Norwegian
  2. English
  3. Romanian
Seems a little off.

This is an interesting variation of a semiotic commutation test, although while not honoring emergent grammar (Paul hopper) as much as I do.

Very interesting. Point of correction: Welsh is not a dialect of English! It's a completely different language.


"Welsh English, Anglo-Welsh, or Wenglish (see below) refers to the dialects of English spoken in Wales by Welsh people. The dialects are significantly influenced by Welsh grammar and often include words derived from Welsh. In addition to the distinctive words and grammar, there is a variety of accents found across Wales from the Cardiff dialect to that of the South Wales Valleys and to West Wales."

Right, but that is not Welsh...


Nobody claimed it was. Talking about "Welsh English" refers to a Welsh-language-influenced dialect of English spoken primarily in Wales by people who also speak or live among/are influenced by speakers of the Welsh language.

'Welsh' refers to the variety/locality of English - just like all the people reporting the test as giving them 'Swedish' or 'Portuguese'.

Interestingly, it picked up Welsh English for me, even though I only lived there for about 10 years when I was little. I only know a few Welsh words. I then moved across the border into England.

I got

1. New Zealand 2. South African 3. Australian.

With native languages as

1. English 2. Chinese 3. Greek

I'm English speaking Australian. So it got very close.

totally incorrect for me. Didn't guess my nationality and put Russian at third place in native languages.

Guesses native language:

1. English 2. Chinese 3. Greek

Guesses dialect:

1. Australian 2. Singaporean 3. American (Standard)

I'm Norwegian.

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