- The Washington Times
Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Contrary to stereotypes of quick-speaking East Coast city slickers, Minnesota is the fastest-talking state at 5.34 syllables per second, according to a study from language learning platform Preply.

Louisiana, hewing true to the idea of the Southron drawl, is the slowest-talking state at 4.78 syllables per second. The average American talking speed, according to Preply, is 5.09 syllables per second.


The methodology for the Preply study released in November ranked 114 cities by using “Steven Coat’s study on articulation rate by analyzing caption files from YouTube videos, and Marchex Call DNA Technology’s study on speech rate on more than four million phone calls.”

Outside of outlier Oregon in second place with 5.33 syllables per second, the other fast-speaking states were located in the Midwest and New England. The rest of the top 10 are:

— #3 Iowa, 5.3 syllables per second.
— #4 Kansas, 5.3 syllables per second.
— #5 North Dakota, 5.29 syllables per second.
— #6 Massachusetts, 5.28 syllables per second.
— #7 New Hampshire, 5.28 syllables per second.
— #8 South Dakota, 5.27 syllables per second.
— #9 Nebraska, 5.25 syllables per second.
— #10 Vermont, 5.23 syllables per second.

The list of slowest-speaking states is a testament to the common cultural conception that the Deep South has drawn-out diction. After last-place Louisiana, the rest of the bottom 10 are:

— #49 South Carolina, 4.80 syllables per second.
— #48 Mississippi, 4.82 syllables per second.
— #47 Alabama, 4.87 syllables per second.
— #46 Georgia, 4.89 syllables per second.
— #45 New Mexico, 4.90 syllables per second.
— #44 Arkansas, 4.93 syllables per second.
— #43 North Carolina, 4.93 syllables per second.
— #42 Texas, 4.95 syllables per second.
— #41 Illinois, 4.96 syllables per second.

Of the slowest states, only Illinois is above the Mason-Dixon line. Cities played a large role in determining the ranking of the states; Portland, Oregon talks the fastest at 5.38 syllables per second, helping Oregon be the second-fastest state when it comes to speech.

Fast talking, however, won’t play in Peoria, Illinois, which came in as the slowest-speaking city at 4.71 syllables per second.

As for the stereotype that New Yorkers talk fast, it’s a case of mistaken perception by the rest of the country, the study suggested. Preply found that New Yorkers may not speak swiftly, coming in as the 37th fastest-talking state, but they do speak often, topping the nation for the amount that they gab.

California, New Jersey, Nevada, and Maryland rounded out the top five most loquacious American states. Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Oklahoma rank as the five most terse states.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.


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