Because you asked for it! Because Labov can’t call everybody in America’s house! Because it can be done!
There’s a new North American English dialect survey going on, and they want you and you and you to contribute. Basically, the idea is to amass as large a database of recordings as possible, so they had to make it fast and easy. All you have to do is go to the website, answer a few questions (or fewer, if you’re feeling shy) that don’t even require personal identifiers, and then read a list of words into your computer microphone.
Pretty easy, huh?
The idea is that there are certain common words which can be pronounced several different ways, and are. By mapping how people from various places say things, you can map their dialectal features — in this case, their accents.
This survey is for people who’ve grown up speaking English, in the US or Canada. (So yeah, it’s not really all of North America, as of yet.) English doesn’t have to be your native or only language for this, but you should have spoken English as a kid. (But if this survey works, more surveys for other areas and languages will probably follow, as night follows day.)
I don’t know these Yale linguists from Adam, but it’s a good thing they’re doing.