Do you pronounce "pin" and "pen" the same?

If you pronounce pin and pen the same you are almost certainly from the south... or Bakersfield, CA. So many people seemed interested in yesterday's discussion of the Dawn/Don merger, that I thought it might be fun to look at another mappable pronunciation curiousity: pin/pen. Most Americans say these words differently. But in the south, they sound the exactly same. I noticed this phenomenon when visiting Pensacola, Florida—to my ear, people there count seven, eight, nine, tin. Yeah tin, like tin can.  What's cool to me is how precisely this can be mapped. Indianapolis merges pin/pen but Cincinnati does not. Nearly all the south merges, but Savannah, Georgia does not. Mobile-yes. New Orleans-no.  So for fun in the office, ask your friends to pronounce the objects below. Their answer will tell you where they grew up.


  1. My dad pronounced pin and pen the same way. Lived in NW Indiana all of his life.

  2. My parents, my sisters and I are all natives to Jacksonville, FL. My parents don't make the distinction, but my sisters and I do.

  3. I pronounce it the same. I grew up in Visalia actually! From what I experienced it's just about our entire valley.

  4. I'm from northern IN, and my husband is from Kokomo, IN. We've disagreed about about the PIN/PEN pronunciation for 25 yrs when he asked me bring him a pin--which did he want? He thought I was being picky and weird until I discovered last year that it's thought to have originated from the Scots/Irish immigrants. As you know, northern IN was populated by those migrating from NY, OH, to IN, as southern IN was populated by those migrating from VA, KY, to IN and tend to be more Scots-Irish decent.

  5. Speaking of errors:

    1) No part of Indiana is considered part of the South.
    2) South should be capitalized when referencing that region of the U.S.
    3) I know a number of people who grew up in NYC Burroughs that pronounce pen and pin the same. Ditto for many in Illinois.

    If you think Bakersfield is the only city in CA that has a dominant Southern accent, you're really ignorant.