Where’s that accent from, son?

11 Jul

One of my favorite subway games is Name That Accent. Often, I’m way off — I’ve asked many Kiwis if they’re from Australia, not to mention nearly failed linguistics in college — but it’s a joy to hear as many accents as people in a single subway car.

(Hear the accents of the five boroughs here. Brooklyn, “Chew on ya vowels!”)

As I reflect on my circle of friends in New York, I delight in how even those transplanted to the city from inside the country speak so differently.

Here, my short rundown of the ones I’ve come to find most fascinating, and associated memories:

• Boston: I never heard him say wicked pissah (is that a thing?), but I worked with a guy whose Boston accent was so pure, it should be put in a petri dish and studied. It was the first time I’d ever heard an actual person say “pahk the cah” who wasn’t an actor in “Good Will Hunting.”

• Dutch: This was a hard one for me to pinpoint until I could differentiate it from…whatever I used to confuse it for. It’s easy on the ears and fun to listen to, whether they’re speaking Dutch or English.

• Italian: I feel guilty about this one — but sometimes I can’t understand their English! Groups of guys in Central Park always seem to be speaking Italian. If one were to ask me something in English, however, I’d likely respond with, “What? What?…Sorry, what?” Yeah, sorry about that.

• Texan: Ah, my home state. “But you don’t have an accent,” they say. (True, but I’ve maintained “y’all” and the occasional “fixin’.”) I’ve always liked how Georgia people talk, too. JAW-juh…sounds sweet as a peach.

• French: I once asked a French person where they were from. “Vhere do you sink I’m fhrom?” he said, scorning me for not knowing. Annnnnd the Frenchmen reinforces a stereotype. Sometimes I wish I were a French girl, though, if only for the sexy voice and the clothes.

• Long Island: I’ve had a lot of fun with this one over the years, as one of my best friends carries this tongue. I’m Sah-rah instead of Sarah. A large concentration of Lon-Gilanders at work call our daily paper the “dahhly PAY-pah.” Hee.

• Irish: I have a special bias — I’m marrying this accent! Selected favorites are the way he says “must” instead of “have to,” and calls certain food and kitchen tools by different names. And the word “but” comes out more like “bot.” Sarah likes this.

Now for your stories! Do you have an accent? Which accents do you most enjoy hearing on the streets of New York, and among your friends and coworkers? Any embarrasing stories of misidentifying an accent at a party?

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One Response to “Where’s that accent from, son?”

  1. Ana Rebeca Gonzalez 10/20 at 3:44 am #

    OMG this is awesome! haha

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