When Ben Carson’s campaign released a hilariously erroneous map of the United States (and in the middle of Geography Awareness Week no less!), their graphic designer was mocked for being very confused about New England. But hey–New England is confusing. There are too many little states crammed in there. What was less forgivable was that the Carson campaign erred in its depiction of Maryland, where he made his career.
Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods. Including neighborhoods that you may have never heard of before. (Morrell Park, anyone?) A good way to realize that you don’t know your own city as well as you might’ve thought is to try and play “Click That Hood,” an online geography matching game that asks you to identify random Baltimore neighborhoods (or you can be nuts and go for all 56 city regions recognized by Google). It took me 2 minutes and I got most of them wrong. How about you?
Everyone makes fond fun of the Baltimore accent (excuse me, Bawlmer accent), but if you’ve ever been curious about how it came about — or the difference between any American English dialect, for that matter, you will probably enjoy this intense and detailed website — consider it an accent-opedia, perhaps, complete with clips of exemplary accents (thanks, Barbara Mikulski, for ours.)
What I learned: Baltimore’s accent is part of the Atlantic Midland subset of the larger Midland category. North of Philly, “on” rhymes with “Don”; down here, it rhymes with “Dawn.” (Personally, I can’t tell the difference — but maybe that’s because I grew up in Richmond, a “Lowland South” region.) Furthermore: “hoarse” = “horse”; “mourning” = “morning”; “four” = “for.” And, in a strange bit of accent fact, unlike people from DC or Richmond or Pittsburgh, Baltimoreans pronounce “bad” as though it doesn’t rhyme with “had,” the same way that New Yorkers do.
If you’re an accent nerd, you can spend all morning with this map, created by an enthusiastic accent hobbyist with too much time on his hands. Ever wondered why people native to Assateague speak so distinctly? Well, the Chesapeake Islands are an “anomalous peripheral area that resisted the Southern shift.” Ah yes, of course. And (who knew!?) the San Francisco Bay turns out to be our accent neighbors (“except that ‘bad’ rhymes with ‘had'” over there — wait, it doesn’t here?). Learn more about “The Unique Position of Nebraska,” “Where do they speak without an accent?”, and “The Pin-Pen Merger, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Texas Cattle Drives.”