Ines Vuckovic/Dose

And no, they’re not faking it.

We get so used to hearing our own dialect, we tend to forget there are others in the United States. Think about it: If we hear someone say a word differently than we do, we assume they’re from another part of the country, or the world.

Sometimes we become so fascinated with their speech patterns, we ask them to say certain words, wondering how they’ll sound in a foreign tongue. We do this with other English speakers in England and Australia. And there are so many different dialects in the United States that we’re unfamiliar with, it’s pretty hard to keep count.

For instance, raise your hand if you’ve been to or even heard of Tangier Island, Virginia. The small island in the Chesapeake Bay has been in the news in recent years due to the threat it faces of disappearing completely—but what many don’t know is that the town is one of the only places in the US where citizens have a British accent. Like Maryland’s Smith Island, citizens speak with a drawl that can only be described as a Southern drawl with an English twist.

Natalie Schilling-Estes, a linguist at Georgetown University, led a team of researchers to study those on Smith Island to understand their distinct dialects. They concluded that the dialects, referred to as High Tider accents, were getting stronger and would not fade anytime soon. Even though the population was shrinking, it was found that teens on the island had a stronger accent than the adult inhabitants.

So how did these people get this dialect? It all goes back to when the first settlers came to places like Smith Island, Maryland, and Tangier Island, Virginia. Since Maryland and Virginia are both a part of the original 13 colonies, chances are, their original settlers were of English origin.

It’s these tidbits about places in our own backyard that make the United States so fascinating and unique.