For those of you that are unaware of the intricacies of American English pronunciation, commonly called accents, see this great article on Wikipedia.
I grew up but 90 miles from New York City but somehow managed to escape having a typical New York accent. My mother was born in New York City and grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey with quite a heavy accent. When describing it to friends I tell them to imagine Judge Judy - seriously. I grew up hearing words like "cawfee" (coffee), "buttah" (butter) and "sistah" (sister). Every now and then I can be caught using that pronunciation, usually if I've been on an extended visit back home.
But living in the Catskill region of New York put me more in line with the pronunciation used in upstate cities such as Syracuse and Buffalo. It is closer to what most would call a "Midwest Accent" better known as American Inland English. However, I don't use all the lexicon - I still say "soda" instead of "pop" for carbonated beverages. I still say "stand on line" instead of "stand in line" at the grocery store.
I also tend to use quite a few Yiddish words in my speech, even today. This is due to the fact that my part of New York served as a resort region for many of the Jews living in New York. These vacationers were often either immigrants from Germany, Poland or other parts of Eastern Europe or first generation Americans who grew up speaking Yiddish. I still say things like meshuge, cockamammie, and bashert.
As I got older and went to college and then lived out West, I became adept at picking out various accents. Two accents that seem similar to most but are very destinct to me are the accents of Philadelphia and Baltimore. The easy test: ask the person to pronounce the word "water" - if the "a" sounds more like "oo" in wood, then that person mostly likely has a Philadelphia Accent. Baltimorese not only is an accent, but also includes a unique lexicon and a habit of dropping middle portions of words: "geen" instead of "going."
I imagine that when my Dutch ancestors arrived here in 1661, they had a difficult time adapting to English when that became the standard in the New York colony in 1670. And, I still remember some of the Irish brogue that my great-grandmother Therese McGinnis Austin had inherited from her mother Bridget Farren McGinnis.
Take the quiz below to see how your pronunciation is described - I was surprised that mine was not more Middle Atlantic English. Perhaps my four years in Chicago are starting to affect my pronunciation - who knows?
Let me know what type of accent you have, and if your ancestors had unique accents, either in their native tongue or in English - and what challenges they had to overcome with learning English. The funniest example of mixed up compound English words I ever had: a friend's father from Poland would say "Oh, you have overhang," instead of "Oh, you have a hangover!"
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Inland North
|What American accent do you have?|
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