The xkcd dialect quiz

A recent xkcd cartoon (#2372) plays with the sort of questionnaire that lexicographers and linguists have long used for investigating dialect differences:

The quiz builds slowly, starting with a question that actually does appear on dialect questionnaires (but offering a flippant response in addition to real ones: addressing a group of two or more people); on to questions that appear on dialect questionnaires (but offering only preposterous answers: the scientific field that studies the stars); and going on to mix in some questions that presuppose the existence of preposterous referents (baseball-sized garden bugs that, when poked, glow brightly and emit a warbling scream).

2 Responses to “The xkcd dialect quiz”

  1. bashurst Says:

    One of these delightful questions reminded me that a few years ago our astronomical society enjoyed an illustrated talk on the current state of research on the origins of the universe. The speaker was a beautiful, impeccably dressed young woman, who confided that while flying out to join us someone had asked her profession. “Cosmologist,” she replied. “Oh! Would you mind taking a look at this spot on my cheek, I’ve been trying to fix it for years.”

    • Sim Aberson Says:

      I, an atmospheric scientist, frequently get asked questions about meteors.

      I do wish I had some of those garden bugs, though.

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