Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Dave and I have a running dialog about accents. He's from West Philadelphia ("Fulldelfee-ah"). I grew up in the Poconos (no known Pocono Accent - unless you're from the sticks, in which you should just say 'ain't' a lot), went to college ("callidge") in West Michigan ("Mesh-agun"). I also like imitating New Yorkers ("Noo Youwah-kahs").

I love accents. I define them as the regionalization of vowel sounds. For example. Let's take the short "a" sound: Aah. If I were a news anchor, I would very likely be asked to say a word like "Hat" with that ahhh. If I were in Michagan, it would change to a word that would be two syllables if it wasn't spoken so quickly: Heee-aaaht" Think of "Deeeaaahd, keeeean I heeeeahve the cahr?"

In Boston, the same "Dad, can I have the car?" phrase might sound like this: "Dad! Can I have the caaah?" (Bostonians might change my definition of accents. They don't use the consonant "R" if it's at the end of word.)

When Dave and I were down south this summer, we both thoroughly enjoyed saying "Haiiii!" to each other.

This brings me to another funny aspect of accents... They can be mixed with other regional accents. For example, my New Yorker Aunt, after spending years living in North Carolina and Alabama, says, in a charming Newyorksoutherndrawl, "Hey, Y'all! How yoooo doing?" (Much cuter when you hear it in person.) I once knew a guy from Massachusetts, who lived in Long Island ("Long Guylind") for a long time. He would admonish me to "Agnowlige, Uh-JUuuuhst and Move Aaaaaaahn." ("Acknowledge, Adjust and Move On...")

Back to Dave. The funny thing about the regionalized Philadelphia accent is what they do to the letter "e."

It's terrible. Or, as Dave would say, "turrible."

I tease him. (and he teases me back, as I will demonstrate in a moment.)

Think of the following phrase, and you'll fully understand what I'm talking about: "Dave, say 'Terrible Cherry Syrup'." "Turrible Churry Surrip," says Dave. Tee hee.

Dave says I say "syrup" like this: "SEE-rup." He completely wrinkles his nose when he says the "SEE" part.

The area where I've live has it's own regionalization and it's very own accent. The Pennsylvania Germans, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch, live here - specifically in more rural towns. Famous PA Dutch phrases, for the truly Dutch, are things like "Outten the liahts, now ohnst..." That means "Turn the lights out." A popular regional commercial features two famous local Dutchies, Homer and Pumpkin. They argue back and forth "You're a reeeel pisa work, don-CHA-KNOOOO?" They call each other "Doom BUHnees." (Dumb Bunnies)

Dave says I talk like the Dutchies. He's wrong - but the PA Dutch have a certain melodic cadence to their phrasing that I sometimes catch myself using... It would be as if each sentence finished at a slightly higher pitch than it started. I'm sorry I can't demonstrate this for you in writing. Dave makes sure I am made aware of every instance I fall into this linguistic pattern.

It's okay, though. Whenever something bad happens - I just tell him it's turrible.

And for sharing my story with you, I feel much butter now, so y'all come back now, y'heeeeiah?


  • At 4:17 PM, Blogger Trixie said…

    Fasinating isn't it ? I listened to HP's sister Maverick doing some wild accents (mostly British) this weekend and was so amazed. She could do it for a living. Wow. I have absolutely no hear for anything language or musical.


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