While writing a comment today, I realized that I had used the British spelling of "analogue" while talking about my Californian accent. This caused me to wonder - is there a word or phrase for someone who unconsciously mixes elements of two or more established dialects in their speech, such as might happen to someone who's moved between different English-speaking regions?

By "dialect", I mean things such as grammar, word choice, and spelling - my pronunciation seems to still be mostly (but not wholly) American, so accent/pronunciation isn't as relevant to the situation I wish to convey.

I also specifically mean varieties of the same language. I'm familiar with the term "codeswitching", but as that's often used for what bilingual speakers do, it's not what I'm looking for.

Some examples of what I'd consider mixed dialect speech:

  • Going to uni is hella important these days (California "hella" + non-US "uni")
  • You've coloured the center wrong (US spelling of "center", UK spelling of "colour")
  • Dude, that's a sweet as lunch, I wouldn't mind tasting it. Can? ("sweet as" and "can?", from different dialects, are both missing a few words compared to standard UK/US English. "dude" might also be a regionalism)

If there's a simple word or phrase that laypeople might understand, that would be ideal. But, if the best option is an unusual linguistics term or a complicated phrase, that would still work.

  • 2
    It's still called code switching. "Both in popular usage and in sociolinguistic study, the name code-switching is sometimes used to refer to switching among dialects, styles or registers"—Wikipedia
    – Laurel
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:12
  • I can indeed refer to it as code switching, but it would be useful to have a way to make it clear I mean dialects specifically without having to add a clarification like "[...] between US and NZ English".
    – Soron
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:27
  • Dialogue is a bad example because plenty of North Americans spell it that way. You should focus on things that can be heard in the real language, like grammar and word-choice, not on silent writing habits.
    – tchrist
    Nov 22, 2017 at 23:47

2 Answers 2


A mid-Atlantic dialect.

If you describe someone's accent as mid-Atlantic, you mean that it is a mixture of British and American accents. For himself, he had cultivated a mid-Atlantic accent. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/mid-atlantic

  • 1
    I agree that 'mid-Atlantic dialect' might apply to the questioner's own case... but I don't think you could use it generally for a mixture of English language dialects (never mind dialects of other languages). You couldn't call someone from NZ who used Aussie phrases 'mid-Atlantic', surely? Nov 22, 2017 at 21:27
  • 1
    @ArchContrarian I wonder if we could create a term mid Tasman Sea dialect for that particular case? I'm half joking but half serious as I think people would understand!
    – k1eran
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:32
  • 1
    As it happens, it actually doesn't apply in my own case (US/NZ/Asian mix, in roughly that order, yet for some reason "the UK spelling" is still the common term). This answer does give a useful idea about what sort of phrases could be used or coined, even if it's less succinct/exact than I was thinking of. +1 for usefulness :). (I was also unaware that this meant east-west "mid", rather than a US speaker from Carolina!)
    – Soron
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:34
  • 2
    Yes, "mid-Atlantic" is a well-established and understood expression - in Britain.
    – WS2
    Nov 22, 2017 at 23:34

Someone who uses two dialects is actually called bidialectal.

Definition of bidialectalism

: facility in using two dialects of the same language; also : the teaching of Standard English to pupils who normally use a nonstandard dialect

Merriam Webster

1985 Eng. World-wide 6 131 Until about thirty years ago Norfolk Islanders with few exceptions were bidialectal. 1985 Eng. World-wide 6 143 Islanders live in a bidialectal society.


  • Found an article this ... telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10051181/… Quote: Ey oop, one can switch accents Bidialectalism, where people speak with two distinct accents, is on the rise, according to research. It seems to be to be ability to switch from one to another as opposed to speaking in a mixed up version ?
    – k1eran
    Nov 23, 2017 at 1:12

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