Culture

The Fastest Talkers in America Don't Live Where You Think They Do

A new study upends some conventional thinking about where the fastest and slowest speakers dwell.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / BeautyBlowFlow

There’s a stereotype about New Yorkers doing everything fast, especially talking. You can see it portrayed in films dating back to the 1930s, featuring stars like James Cagney spitting rapid-fire, rat-a-tat dialogue. Conversely, the pervasive image of Southern American speech is that of the loping drawl—essentially, a British accent, only slowed to a fraction of its original speed.

A recent study of the speech patterns of Americans suggests the Southern stereotype isn’t so off the mark, while New York City talkers aren’t quite as speedy as they, or anyone else, imagines they are.

Marchex, a mobile advertising analytics company, used “technology that automatically monitors speech, silence, ringtones and hold times” to determine the tortoises and the hares as far as speech goes, state by state. The fastest talkers, it turns out, live in Oregon. Second place goes to the denizens of Minnesota. In fact, you have to look down to third place before you come across a state that’s near New York City: Massachusetts. New York doesn’t actually appear on the list until the 38th slot.

And the top five slowest talkers in the country? They live in Southern states, unsurprisingly. Mississippians topped the list for the slowest speech, compared to the rest of the country.

Here’s how the rest of the list shook out:

Fastest talkers:

  1. Oregon
  2. Minnesota
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Kansas
  5. Iowa

Slowest talkers:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Louisiana
  3. South Carolina
  4. Alabama
  5. North Carolina

A look at the speed of speech in all 50 states, from fastest to slowest:

  1. Oregon
  2. Minnesota
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Kansas
  5. Iowa
  6. Vermont
  7. Alaska
  8. South Dakota
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Nebraska
  11. Connecticut
  12. North Dakota
  13. Washington
  14. Wisconsin
  15. Rhode Island
  16. Idaho
  17. Florida
  18. Pennsylvania
  19. New Jersey
  20. West Virginia
  21. Maine
  22. Colorado
  23. California
  24. Missouri
  25. Montana
  26. Indiana
  27. Hawaii
  28. Virginia
  29. Nevada
  30. Arizona
  31. Utah
  32. Michigan
  33. Tennessee
  34. Maryland
  35. Oklahoma
  36. Wyoming
  37. Delaware
  38. New York
  39. Kentucky
  40. Illinois
  41. Ohio
  42. Arkansas
  43. Georgia
  44. Texas
  45. New Mexico
  46. North Carolina
  47. Alabama
  48. South Carolina
  49. Louisiana
  50. Mississippi

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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