Is Byyuudua-pessst fahhh?
March 24, 2007 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Some movie villains aren't necessarily bad, they're just accented that way. But what criteria do we use to determine a truly, uniquely bad film accent? Obviously, it helps if an actor or movie annoys you to begin with, but some bad accents are simply indisputably painful to watch. Kind of like a mashup of everything in The Speech Accent Archive with a little bit of Received Pronounciation thrown in here and there. Yes it's true, even the average American enjoys trying to rock a ridiculously fake British tone once in a while (there are dialects?). But believe it or not, there are average people in this world actually trying to learn how to sound American too! OK well, on second thought, it's more likely that they're just trying to sound less "foreign" while they're here so we don't mock them.

Now here's the obligatory Fun Quiz portion of the post: what American accent do YOU have? Previously.
posted by miss lynnster (96 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What American accent do you have? Your Result: North Central "North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.
Not bad for a Canadian.
posted by anthill at 7:53 AM on March 24, 2007


i've got the midland accent, or what many refer to as 'no accent'. and yet others still don't seem to understand me...
posted by localhuman at 8:01 AM on March 24, 2007


Maybe it's the content & not the packaging? :)
posted by miss lynnster at 8:02 AM on March 24, 2007




How to Fake an English Accent in a Chatroom
I'll tell you what, mate, that's a right load of bollocks. What wanker wrote that?
posted by Abiezer at 8:10 AM on March 24, 2007


This is a great post. Nice job.
posted by kbanas at 8:15 AM on March 24, 2007


The quiz is interesting.

I got tagged "Philadelphia...If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard."

It's close enough to be not completely useless. I was born in Texas, and half the family's Texan. But I was brought up in South Jersey, and lived in Philly for several years before moving to New England. The upshot is that I sound like something from in between - I "talk a little weird" though the accent isn't very defineable.

There was a wonderful essay I came across years ago. Can't remember whether it was in print or on NPR. It was written by a Southerner who cringes at what passes for a generic American Southern accent in the movies; he referred to it as the "Foghorn Leghorn" accent, and the piece was rioutous and spot-on. Southern accents are all delightful to listen to, but very, very few people sound anything like Foghorn Leghorn, and they are a dying breed. Accents across the South are incredibly varied in subtle ways, and you rarely hear a convincing one. Tom Hanks' in Forest Gump makes me wince.

This was a great Talk of the Nation on what's happening with accents. There seem to be a number of shifts going on, but on major trend is that regional accents are getting stronger, not weaker, perhaps as a reaction to the generalized sound of mass media. Here in Northern New England, people are certainly proud of their defined r-dropping. I enjoy looking on Craigslist and seeing all the "4-Draw Dressers" for sale.
posted by Miko at 8:22 AM on March 24, 2007


Faking a Russian accent.
Side note: I'm supposed to be doing my taxes. This is why I keep finding things to post on Mefi. You see... I do not want to do my taxes. I hate it because I truly and completely suck at this stuff. I went to art school to avoid math classes. I do not like math. I do not like numbers. I do not like them in a boat. I do not like them with a goat. I would rather go to Byyuuudua-pessst with Keanu Reeves any day. I am in Hell.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:25 AM on March 24, 2007


I'm not so sure that the British accent is particularly associated with the "sophisticated evil genius" in American films, but I can see the BBC's wanting it to be so.

No way I sound like I am from Boston. No way.

*shudders*

posted by three blind mice at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Conspicuously absent from this list: Adam Sandler. Don't get me wrong, I found him charming and likeable in the Wedding Singer, and somewhat less so but still tolerable in Happy Gilmore... but honest to God, the characters he created in the Waterboy and Little Nicky are crimes against humanity that need to be avenged with fire.
posted by psmealey at 8:30 AM on March 24, 2007


I'm not so sure that the British accent is particularly associated with the "sophisticated evil genius" in American films, but I can see the BBC's wanting it to be so.

Yes; the truth is, it's also associated with Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on March 24, 2007


I got tagged with a midland accent by the quiz, which didn't ask about the intrusive r that immigrated from New Hampshire to Kansas in 1859 and still makes it's way into words like Warshington (I don't hear it but others hear me say it).
posted by taosbat at 8:38 AM on March 24, 2007


Oh, poor miss lynnster! I feel for you! I am trying to avoid doing a big, annoying math-y invoice, so...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:39 AM on March 24, 2007


I tried for years to drop my Philly accent and never could, despite having purged some of the most heinous abberations like "wooder." I think it's probably one of the least attractive accents out there, almost cockney in its blue collar roughness.
posted by The Straightener at 8:50 AM on March 24, 2007


The Straightener, "wooder"?

What word is that? Standard American English spelling, please.
posted by Flunkie at 9:01 AM on March 24, 2007


Water
posted by psmealey at 9:02 AM on March 24, 2007


lemon wooder ice.
posted by psmith at 9:03 AM on March 24, 2007


Heh. No one ever pegs me as being from New Jersey until I say "wooder". It's the only remnant of my Joisey accent that I can't shake.
posted by octothorpe at 9:04 AM on March 24, 2007


Is there an option for the American Redneck accent? It would be interesting to test David Cross's hypothesis that all rednecks ("fuck all o' y'all") have the same accent whether they're from Bakersfield, CA; Bozeman, MT; Lubbock, TX; Statesboro, GA or Juneau, AK.
posted by psmealey at 9:05 AM on March 24, 2007


Midland, of course... being from suburban PA, it's only natural. I was always told that I had an accent by my parents up until I was about 6, I guess out of some kind of relativistic exercise in "everyone is the same but different!" garbage. When I was about 6 I pointed out that everyone on TV, radio, and movies talks exactly like us, unless they very conspicuously didn't, therefore we don't have accents and the rest of America must think that we don't have accents either, QED.

Then they got divorced.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 9:14 AM on March 24, 2007


My favorite recent bad movie accent is David Bowie's SerboScotoFinnoElfKing accent as Tesla in The Prestige.
posted by Kattullus at 9:23 AM on March 24, 2007


Have you guys checked out the Speech Accent Archive link yet? Because that actually got me kind of hooked, I thought it was pretty impressive.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:26 AM on March 24, 2007



How to Fake an English Accent in a Chatroom


That's hilarious. It is true that no British person under the age of about 130 says 'cheerio' anymore. Nor do we refer to the police as 'bobbies' (unless we're similarly ancient) but it seems that that's the one piece of information about Britain that every American knows. If I was in a chatroom and someone used the word 'bobbie' I'd instantly know that they were a Yank.
posted by ob at 9:27 AM on March 24, 2007


I'm another Canadian who go got tagged as Minnesotan. Probably because I said there was a difference between "loud" and "about." Which we don't say different but you guys all say we do so I was just trying to be nice.
posted by Trochanter at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2007


When accent discussions come up, I'm always reminded of how long of a state Pennsylvania is. A lot happens between Philly and Pittsburgh, and "wooder" is only the tip of the iceberg. A few examples off the top of my head:

In and around Philadelphia, long sandwiches are hoagies.
In and around Pittsburgh, they tend to be subs.

Philadelphians tend to drink soda, while Pittsburgh folks tend to call it pop.

In Philly and the suburbs, the winner of the "Collective Pronoun that Doesn't Exist" award is "yas," or "yuz." I think it's equivalent to "y'all," and while not super-common one does hear it time to time among the most deeply accented folks. Pittsburgh way, however, the term is "yins," which does have a possessive form: "yins's." For the record, I don't approve of either of these.

The further west in PA you go (though I've heard it a little bit everywhere), the more likely it is that people will forget the verb "to be" when talking about how something needs to be done. "This car needs warshed," for example.

Yes, 'warshed.' I don't know where that comes from, as I've heard it on both sides of the state -- nonetheless, sometimes "ah" is transmogrified into "ar." I've heard 'warshed' and 'gararge' (gararge??).

Miss Lynnster, I was surprised that the Everything2 links neglected to mention dropping random articles in the pursuit of fake Russianness. "Is nice car," for example, is immensely preferable to "It is a nice car."
posted by lumensimus at 9:33 AM on March 24, 2007


That accent test, did we do that a while ago? I sincerely remember doing it and whole bunch of other Brits doing it and being told that we all had Northeast (esp Philly) accents. I just did it again and the same result ensued.

Anyway, it's much more interesting when Americans do it. Mrs ob took the test the last time. She's moved around the states a bit and people say that she has a clear and fairly neutral accent but the test picked her out as Philly/Wilmington which is alarming accurate.
posted by ob at 9:33 AM on March 24, 2007


Raised outside of Philly but having lived in Brooklyn for nearly 10 years, I was shocked the quiz pegged me off the charts for my Philadelphia accent (I thought just a little Brooklyn would have intruded by this time). Shocked, but pleased, because I love the iggles, cheesesteaks and everything else about Philly and it cheered me up to think of home sweet home on this beautiful day (Uhm did I take anti-depressants this morning or something? Sheesh!). Anyway, thanks, miss lynnster!
posted by bunnycup at 9:36 AM on March 24, 2007


Meanwhile I found this delightful little test. Well do you, DO YOU, HUH?
posted by ob at 9:37 AM on March 24, 2007


You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

As an Honger (virtually CBC) ESL BC boy who learned to speak English by reading books, I can live with that.

And I can't stand softdrinks. Far too much high fructose corn sweetener and carbonation.
posted by porpoise at 9:37 AM on March 24, 2007


Speaking of the Midwesterly accents, while living in northern Indiana (Michiana, it's called), I was once totally stymied at work by a customer ordering a drink called a "pienda." "Pienda?" I thought. "Is that some exotic Italian espresso preparation?"

"A PEEANNDA!" the customer called back through the drive-thru headset.

Turns out she wanted a "panda," one of a gagillion synonyms for a hybrid regular and white mocha. Huh.
posted by lumensimus at 9:38 AM on March 24, 2007


I agree, dropping articles helps with the Slavic accents. My Yugoslavian ex used to say things like "I am tired like dog." and he had been in the US for 30 years.

I took the accent test and it said that I had no accent. Then I tried to think of the way I used to talk when I was growing up and sure enough: "Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent." Like totally.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:42 AM on March 24, 2007


Hey bunnycup, me too.

Grew up just 10 minutes west of the city but haven't lived there since 1994. Never spoke like those with a strong Philadellphia accent.

Was totally surprised and pleased to get pwned so thoroughly by this quiz.
posted by psmith at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2007


This discussion brought back memories from 2003... Just before the invasion of Iraq Dan Rather did an interview with Saddam. Saddam's voice was dubbed in English with a horrible "mid-eastern-evil-dictator" dialect. My bet is that he didn't speak his own language with such a retarded dialect.
posted by hoskala at 10:06 AM on March 24, 2007


The easiest way to tell if someone is from Western Pennsylvania is to listen for the dropped infinitive. "To be" does not exist west of the Susquehanna and east of the Ohio border. People say, "the lawn needs cut" or that "that car needs washed" (or wurshed).

Two of my favorite localisms here are "Nebby" and "Redd Up". Nebby means nosy and Redd Up mean clean up.
posted by octothorpe at 10:35 AM on March 24, 2007


Here in Central PA the dropped to be is very common. My favorite example, from a Cub Scout campout, father to son: "Does your bottom need wiped?"
posted by Man-Thing at 10:41 AM on March 24, 2007


The test says I have a Boston accent, but I don't. Regardless, a very nice post.
posted by owhydididoit at 11:58 AM on March 24, 2007


Conspicuously absent from this list: Adam Sandler.

No, he's crammed in there under "Pauly Shore." A worthy fate.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:07 PM on March 24, 2007




Both nebb and redd up are in common usage here in Scotland.
posted by the cuban at 12:40 PM on March 24, 2007


cuban, Pittsburgh was founded by Scotsmen so that makes sense. Amazing that it's lasted through two hundred years of immigrants from the rest of Europe.
posted by octothorpe at 1:07 PM on March 24, 2007


While on the subject....

I'm moving to France to teach middle schoolers how to speak English as a teaching assistant. If my time in Italy dealing with beginning to intermediate university (err, college) level English students is any indication, is there a bare minimum of proper RP I should know? I once had to switch to an RP-esque (and admittedly terrible one at that) accent to get some of them to understand anything I said despite speaking in the most anally retentive clear Yankee accent I could muster (once referred to as a 'posh American accent' by a Welsh friend of mine. Whatever that means.) They were at a level where they were unable to construct a sentence with a subordinate caluse.

I've got a feeling I'll be dealing with a similar situation. If any of my cowokers are actually British, it'll be a mindfuck for my students. I don't think I'll switch to RP for entire lessons much less for every day speech, but I imagine I'll have to repeat words with different intonations.
posted by portisfreak at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2007


Some movie villains aren't necessarily bad, they're just accented dat way. But what criteria do we's use ta determine uh truly, uniquely bad film accent? Obviously, it helps if an actor or movie annoys ya ta begin wiff, but some bad accents iz simply indisputably painful ta watch. Kind o' like uh mashup o' everything in The Speech Accent Archive wiff uh little bit o' Received Pronounciation thrown in here an' dere. Yes it'strue, even da average American enjoys trying ta rock uh ridiculously fake British tone once in uh while (there iz dialects?). But believe it or not, dere iz average peeps in dis here world actually trying ta learn how ta sound American too! OK well, on second thought, it'smo' likely dat they're just trying ta sound less "foreign" while they're here so we's don' mock dem.

Now here'sda obligatory Fun Quiz portion o' da post: what American accent do YOU gots? Previously.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:41 AM - 38 comments all ye damn hood ratz..


Sorry, but somebody had to do it. And this is from the best of the amazingly all bad Ebonics translators I found online. One glaring error: "they're" should definitely be "they", and "aren't" and "trying"? Mmhmm...

Oh, and, Midland accent over here, followed closely by The South accent.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:14 PM on March 24, 2007


Oh no. I've been Ali G'ed.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:22 PM on March 24, 2007


fuse theorem: that is not ebonics- it is Bugs Bunny style 1930's Chicago Gangster.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:44 PM on March 24, 2007


I'm a Midlander too, which is strange because a few people have told me that I sound like I'm from Tennesee. And I'm from Merlind. Halfway between Balmer and DC.
posted by sperose at 1:44 PM on March 24, 2007


Was anyone else annoyed with #8?
8. Moving on, what do you think about "Mary," "merry," and "marry"?

The choices were 1) they're all different, 2) "Mary" and "merry" sound the same but "marry" is different, and 3) they're all the same. What about Mary and "marry" being the same and "merry" being different? It was the only option that made sense to me, but I couldn't choose it. >:(
posted by the other side at 1:53 PM on March 24, 2007


This thread should also contain a link to the nifty Harvard Dialect Survey. It was a somewhat more detailed survey that depended a bit more on factors like word choice rather than just pronounciation. It yielded interesting results, though. It's been organized into wonderful maps, such as this one showing where the various versions of "You (plural)" are distributed. THe maps sometimes provide a cool window into migrations - for instance, a lot of terms common in the South also show up in Southern California. In the analysis somewhere, it mentions that this is probably due to the mass migration of Southerners to CA in the Dust Bowl.

For the record, "wooder" is a fairly extreme and localized Philadelphism (like "crown" for "crayon," but that's another story). Since this test takes in South Jersey and parts of Maryland as "Philadelphia," I think "wooder" is an outlier. I say "wahter", and I learned to speak in Central (really south) Jersey. People are always telling me I don't sound like I'm from New Jersey, upon which I respond 'This is what New Jersey sounds like." What they mean is that I don't sound like someone from the Sopranos -- which is really not a New Jersey, but a metro New York accent.
posted by Miko at 1:58 PM on March 24, 2007


the other side: The test is pretty cool, but seems like a blunt instrument. I've heard the kind of "Mary" you mean. The test seems to take just some of the clearest shibboleths and use them to break people down into large regions, but there are a lot of subtler things that wouldn't show up on something with so few questions.
posted by Miko at 1:59 PM on March 24, 2007


t.o.s.: yeah, same here.
I apparently have a Boston accent, which is odd as I'm from Santiago, Chile.
posted by signal at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2007


Hey tos, you must be one of the orange dots on choice E.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:23 PM on March 24, 2007


Aha! Thanks, now I don't feel so alone.
posted by the other side at 2:49 PM on March 24, 2007


octothorpe:
The easiest way to tell if someone is from Western Pennsylvania is to listen for the dropped infinitive. "To be" does not exist west of the Susquehanna and east of the Ohio border. People say, "the lawn needs cut" or that "that car needs washed" (or wurshed).
Oh god, don't forget about the use of "awhile" as a shortened form of "while you wait." The first time I heard that (a month or two after I moved up here from a waitress in a TGI Friday's who wanted to know if she "could get me an appetizer awhile"), I actually had to ask her (several times) what she was trying to ask. Ten years later, I still have to stifle a laugh every time I hear it.

On a possibly-related note, my wife inexplicably drops double Ts in the middle of words (kitten as kih-enn, button as buh-unn, rotten at rah-enn). I always associated that with a Cockney-type accent, but it's apparently more common than that, as she's never been outside the Northeast for an extended period of time.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:02 PM on March 24, 2007


"This car needs washed" is something you are making up.
Or are there heavy amounts of lead in western PA water?

And in Philly, "wooder" is the just the tip of the iceberg:
Everyone in the Delaware Valley seems to say the long "o" (as in home) like "ehoowwh". Hehhoowmuh. Sorry. It cannot be spelled phonetically. It is something you have to hear to believe.
posted by wfc123 at 3:23 PM on March 24, 2007


i've taken this test before, and though i was born and raised in california, i keep getting tagged as a midlander. i dont get it.

my dad is from western pennsylvania and though he's lived in california for 45 years he still sometimes drops the "to be". in fact sometimes i find myself saying "the car needs washed", but never 'warshed'. also perhaps 'anymore' meaning 'the way things are today' might be a western penn affectation. i sometimes say that as well.

there's an old book called 'how to speak pittsburghese' which covers all of the dialect. googling around on pittsburgese i see a lot of stuff but in particular pittsburghese.com seems pretty over the top - some of the stuff there looks like it should belong to a new york accent.
posted by joeblough at 3:26 PM on March 24, 2007


Supposedly I have an inland north accent but I was born in Tennessee and raised in both Florida and Tennessee. It's often hard to place a Florida accent though; most anyplace south of Gainesville or Ocala isn't really the "south" anymore.
posted by inconsequentialist at 3:27 PM on March 24, 2007


wfc123: WTF123? believe me, "this car needs washed" is perfectly acceptable mon-valley english. and yes, judging from some of my relatives, there is a statistically significant amount of brain damage in the area.
posted by joeblough at 3:28 PM on March 24, 2007


Inland North here, which is incredibly accurate; I was born and raised in Buffalo and now spend my time in Chicago.

Great Lakes, represent!
posted by misskaz at 3:49 PM on March 24, 2007


octothorpe, doofus magoo: Can I add the use of "anymore" to mean "now" or "these days?" So confusing! It sounds like this:

"Anymore I don't watch TV, I just don't have time."

wfc123: I always notice that weird 'o' vowel when I'm down on the southern end of the Jersey Shore, toward Cape May and Wildwood. As I understand it, it's unique to just that low country end of Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, PA. I never actually hear it that much in Philadelphia.

And it does sound really, really strange.
posted by Miko at 3:57 PM on March 24, 2007


joeblough, it called me a Midlander as well, but I realized that's because I enunciate my words more now because I talk to non-native speakers regularly. When I thought about my old accent, I changed my answers to say that more pronunciations are the same instead of slightly similar, and that's when it told me I'm from California. It's true, when I was younger I did tend to pronounce a lot of words the same. So I realize now that the California accent is a bit lazy, but it still pained me when I read that it's "the lowest form" of English. Damn that hurt.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:11 PM on March 24, 2007


"this car needs washed" - oh sheesh, that isn't correct?

[Dad is from Western PA (pee-ay) and we say that sort of phrase all the time.]
posted by Liosliath at 4:34 PM on March 24, 2007


Another PA thing is putting the indirect object of a sentence right in the middle, where it makes as little sense as possible. The cliché example of this is "throw the horse over the fence some hay."

This may be a PA-Dutch thing, though, and not necessarily an "accent."
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:42 PM on March 24, 2007


Relatedly, here's the North American Regional Vocabulary Survey.
posted by joannemerriam at 5:54 PM on March 24, 2007


What about "spendy" meaning expensive? Isn't that some Oregon weirdness? And Ohio seems split north and south--it's "greazy" in the south, "greasy" in the north.

And my favorite--how many of you know what a "tree lawn" is? I have lived in Connecticut and New York for years and have yet to find a native who knew what it meant.
posted by etaoin at 6:35 PM on March 24, 2007


OK, so what parts of Pennsylvania call the cops "pleece"?

Where in MA do they drink "bears"?

Where in the South would you use a "spyewn" to eat ice cream? Is it the same area where they put "awl" in their car engines?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:36 PM on March 24, 2007


joannemerriam's link does a great job illustrating the intense accent weirdness in the mid-Atlantic that I've been nattering on about. North Jersey and NY and Long Island are all in green; South Jersey is in a lavendar accent group with Maryland, Delaware, and tiny nick of PA; Philly and environs are their own sort of Eastern Penna-grey; parts of connecticut are inland-New-England blue while parts are coastal-New-England mauve. That's a lotta accents in a little space.
posted by Miko at 6:47 PM on March 24, 2007


How about this one:

Adding a 'th' to height, so it ends like width and length? Ever heard anyone say 'heighth?'

Or is it just an upstate NY thing?
posted by bloomicy at 6:58 PM on March 24, 2007


(obviously, adding just the sound of 'th')
posted by bloomicy at 7:00 PM on March 24, 2007


How about this one:

Adding a 'th' to height, so it ends like width and length? Ever heard anyone say 'heighth?'

Or is it just an upstate NY thing?
posted by bloomicy at 9:58 PM on March 24 [+]

[!]

Northern Ohio, along the Lake Erie shore.
posted by etaoin at 7:09 PM on March 24, 2007


"You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine."

Hmm. I live in Boston but I'm from India and grew up in Libya & Saudi Arabia. This either means (a) expatriate British/US schools have people full of Boston-ish accents or (b) your accent can change to a Bostonian one in a few years (c) the test isn't all that robust (and, to be fair, isn't pretending to be.)
posted by Firas at 7:11 PM on March 24, 2007


I think I got it, it pins Southern English accents as Bostonian ones because of the Broad A... or something like that.
posted by Firas at 7:30 PM on March 24, 2007


Boston?? Thanks a lot, dad.

I grew up in the Southwest: NM, TX, etc. We'd come home from school and he'd occasionally correct our pronunciation of some word or another, not wanting us to speak the local dialect, but what he called "Broadcast English", or what the newscasters spoke. (didn't know at the time they were mostly Canadian, but eh)

So I don't sound like I'm from my hometown, or from where I'm living now. But this is the first time I've been associated with anyone like Ted Kennedy. I can't understand him half the time.
posted by lysdexic at 7:30 PM on March 24, 2007


lysdexic, take heart! The quiz doesn't test for non rhoticity (eg. pronouncing 'car' as 'cah') so it doesn't really identify the more extreme/stereotypical Kennedyisms.
posted by Firas at 7:39 PM on March 24, 2007


Ha! There is that. Thanks, Firas.

A side funny: I'd been in West Texas a few years when the parents came to visit, and I was driving my dad around in my new (to me) truck (birthday gift). We parked somwhere and he said, "How do you like your truck?"

"I love it!" I answered and proceeded to get out of the car.

"No, no. How do you like your truck?"

"It's great, dad, really, thanks!"

"No! I can't get the door to lock. How do you lock your truck?"
posted by lysdexic at 7:58 PM on March 24, 2007


That is a great story, lysdexic. Will remember.

Reminds me of when I first moved to New England. Went to a yard sale. The lady having the sale had a lot of old, rustic, country-style wooden objects. I picked up one largish, egg-shaped carved piece of wood.

"Do you know what that is?" she asked. I shook my head. "It's a donner."

"A donner?" I asked. "What's it for?"

"You know, for donning. Like when you have a hole in your sock and you don it."
posted by Miko at 8:08 PM on March 24, 2007


Growing up an army brat I dealt with many of these intricacies on schoolyard playgrounds from coast to coast. I said "soda pop" to work it everywhere. Still, to this day, if it's about warshing something, I'll get an occasional, "Hey Kansas!" but my mom and sister can't hear me say it anymore...*sigh*
posted by taosbat at 8:23 PM on March 24, 2007


"This car needs washed" is something you are making up.

Sadly, no. I haven't lived in in western PA for almost 15 years and that still trips me up.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:30 PM on March 24, 2007


my wife inexplicably drops double Ts in the middle of words (kitten as kih-enn, button as buh-unn, rotten at rah-enn).

Yes; that's a distinct Northeastern subset that I've been fascinated with for a long time. My grandmother did it very noticeably: Li'le, thro'le, bu'on. But she's a puzzle, having been born in Ireland, raised in the Bronx, lived in Providence, then settled in NJ. I encountered a lot of the middle-t-dropping in Connecticut (where the town of Groton becomes Gro'on, and mittens are always mi'ens), and heard it in the metro NY area as well, though not from everybody. I'd love to see that one mapped.
posted by Miko at 9:20 PM on March 24, 2007


There seems to be a high correlation of dialectical artifacts between South/SouthEast England (RP mixed with Cockney) and parts of the American East Coast, like the glottal stops you're mentioning.

T-glottalization on wikipedia, they say in American English it's common in the city of New Britain, CT.
posted by Firas at 9:50 PM on March 24, 2007


It pegged me as Inland North, and I was born and raised in Michigan. However, no one ever asks me if I'm from Wisconsin. Those folks have an accent. I do not.

Is Michigan the only state that calls a liquor/convenience store a "party store"? I never realized it wasn't common parlance until a friend from Georgia was visiting...I said that I had to stop by the party store on the way home from the airport (to get pop and snacks), but he thought I meant a place that sold confetti and noisemakers.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:07 PM on March 24, 2007


That's very interesting, Firas...it's certainly more widespread than just New Britain, though I guess someone studied it there.
posted by Miko at 10:14 PM on March 24, 2007


(It's probably needless to mention that locals call it "New Bri'ain".)
posted by Miko at 10:15 PM on March 24, 2007


"This car needs washed" is something you are making up.

As a Pittsburgher, I can assure you this is the truth... the words "to be" are dropped very frequently, even by educated people. I used to correct people but I have given up. Everytime I hear about something that "needs cleaned" I cringe.
posted by Raichle at 11:45 PM on March 24, 2007


great post by the way, I should be in bed but the links are too interesting.
posted by Raichle at 11:45 PM on March 24, 2007


It's probably needless to mention that locals call it "New Bri'ain".

Oh, no you di'in't. You're right that it's certainly widespread. Odd that they those chose New Britain, a fairly unremarkable small city (in a state full of them), whose primary distinctions are its large Polish population, the location of the oldest art museum in the United States devoted to American Art, and that it is roughly dead center geographically in our very small state.

This pronunciation is prevalent throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island, but is still very common in among working class folk in both Fairfield County, CT and Westchester County, NY... both tony areas just outside of NYC.
posted by psmealey at 6:21 AM on March 26, 2007


Is Michigan the only state that calls a liquor/convenience store a "party store"?

Is Mass the only state that calls a liquor store a "package store" ("packie")?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:43 AM on March 26, 2007


Here in central Ohio, it took me a little while to figure out that the small city of Newark was what people were talking about when they mentioned "Nerk."
posted by pax digita at 7:42 AM on March 26, 2007


Pennsylvania English is not only stranger than you imagine, but stranger than you can imagine. In addition to the aforementioned "the lawn needs mowed," they've got a whole new verb. Don't tell a Pennsylvanian to "turn out the light" or turn off the light"; just say "Outen the light!" A friend of mine collects old Pennsylvanian antiques and folk art (Pennsylvania-ania?), and he has a charming wooden plaque reminding the reader to do just that upon leaving the room.

They also call liquor stores "state stores" because they've all been socialized for some reason, and old-timers abbreviate the name of the state (sorry, commonwealth) as "Penna."
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:05 AM on March 26, 2007


I love "Outen"! Wonderful hypercorrection to just "out"-ing the thing.
posted by Firas at 8:37 AM on March 26, 2007


Don't tell a Pennsylvanian to "turn out the light" or turn off the light"; just say "Outen the light!"

There's a fine line between regional quirkiness of usage and diction and just flat out fucking wrong.

/waits to be taken to the woodshed by languagehat for being a prescriptive dick.
posted by psmealey at 8:43 AM on March 26, 2007


old-timers abbreviate the name of the state (sorry, commonwealth) as "Penna."

Similarly, if you live in or near Massachusetts, the state (sorry, commonwealth)'s name is shortened to "Mass." Can't help but note that both "Penna." and "Mass." are the former postal abbreviations, from before the USPS started mandating the two-letter code.

They also call liquor stores "state stores" In NH we have a "state store" for spirits, but any convenience store or grocery can sell wine and beer 'round the clock.

In New Jersey, we called these "liquor stores" or "package stores." In CT, I learned to call them "packies." Down South they were called "the ABC," standing for Alcoholic Beverage Control (again, state-run). I can't remember which state(s) used "ABC" - it was either TX, LA, or AL. Too many relatives in too many places...
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2007


I was correctly identified as a denizen of the "Island North" but that strikes me as a bit misleading. Though born and raised in Chicago, I don't have a Chicawgo accent. What's more, I can't even fake that Sout' Side/Bridgeport/Polish accent very well.

That hardscrabble Chicago voice is increasingly hard to come by. We hear it every day from the Mayor, of course, but that aside it's poorly represented. The best example I can think of comes from the recorded female voice announcing trains at some blue line stations.

"An inbound train, toward the loop, will be arriving shortly."

posted by aladfar at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2007


Don't tell a Pennsylvanian to "turn out the light" or turn off the light"; just say "Outen the light!"

There's a fine line between regional quirkiness of usage and diction and just flat out fucking wrong.


There's a fine line between being a prescriptive dick and being ignorant. "Outen the lights" is a perfectly legitimate Pennsylvania Dutch English phrase.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:34 PM on March 26, 2007


Fair enough, oneirodynia. I had just heard that expression and other like it that were used by people who were not Pennsylvania Dutch, and just assumed that it was something else. I stand corrected.
posted by psmealey at 4:43 PM on March 26, 2007


I grew up all over the place: Ohio, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, SoDak, and the result was Midlands(?!??!). I guess it's kind of the average of all the places I lived during my formative years.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:29 PM on March 26, 2007


psmealey: when I wrote that comment earlier I was just being smartassish; rereading it now it sounds pretty rude. I apologize.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:49 PM on March 26, 2007


Thanks for the sentiment, oneirodynia, but there's really no need. I'm sure I deserved it, if not for the snark posted upthread, then definitely for something else.
posted by psmealey at 3:40 AM on March 27, 2007


I got correctly pegged as a Philadelphian, though I only spent the first 4 years of my life there.

In other matters, what has happened to the New York Jewish accent?
posted by zorro astor at 8:01 AM on March 28, 2007


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