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Old 08-15-2010, 07:22 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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The phenomenon you're describing is called the Northern Cities Shift and largely affects the area from Syracuse, NY to Madison, WI. This area has one of the most distinct dialects in the country.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:39 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
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Originally Posted by Ben Around View Post
Interesting this appears in CT. In Western NY where I am from, the local vernacular includes things like "blee-yuk" (for black), "ree-yut" (for rat) and "mee-yicks-i-mum" for maximum. (It's really not quite two syllables out of one, I have exaggerated to show how the vowel is pronounced.)
We pronounce these words the same way in Michigan. Since moving to Minnesota, I've had to break myself of this.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:40 PM
 
Location: Southern Minnesota
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Originally Posted by Verseau View Post
The phenomenon you're describing is called the Northern Cities Shift and largely affects the area from Syracuse, NY to Madison, WI. This area has one of the most distinct dialects in the country.
That's a bit of a stretch. Not nearly as "distinct" as the South, New York, Boston or Philly.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:23 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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Originally Posted by flyingwriter View Post
That's a bit of a stretch. Not nearly as "distinct" as the South, New York, Boston or Philly.
Maybe "distinct" wasn't the best word to use. The Northern Cities dialect probably doesn't enjoy the same notoriety as the others you mentioned, in part because it is a relatively "young" dialect in comparison, still in the process of evolving in many areas. And it does have more in common with all the other northern and western dialects than the South does with them, so in some ways the Southern dialects are probably the most "distinct" on a national level.

However, what I did mean is that the Northern Cities area is more strongly demarcated from neighboring areas than any other dialect region in North America in terms of linguistic features. We call boundaries between different pronunciations or phonological systems isoglosses, and there is a particularly dense isogloss bundle between the Northern Cities and areas to the north (Canada) and south (the Midland dialect).

This is primarily the result of the Northern Cities Shift, which has completely shifted the pronunciations of many vowels away from their older pronunciations retained in neighboring areas.

For example, when a Canadian says "black," someone from the Northern Cities area might hear "block." When a Canadian says "cot," they might hear "caught." Similarly, drive from northern OH, IN, or IL into the central parts of those states, and you're crossing into a whole new linguistic terrain. While "on" rhymes with "don" up north, in the Midland it rhymes with "dawn."

Northern Cities folks start with the tongue closer to the front of the mouth when they say the vowel sound in "dine," while the vowel in "down" begins with the tongue closer to the back of the mouth. Once you reach the Midland region, the relative tongue position is the exact opposite.

PS: this topic is probably more apropos for the Midwest thread than the Northeast thread. But it does apply to western upstate NY and its differences to neighboring areas. Anyone who's traveled from Buffalo to Pittsburgh knows what a dramatic dialect shift that is!
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Old 05-31-2011, 04:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Verseau View Post
The phenomenon you're describing is called the Northern Cities Shift and largely affects the area from Syracuse, NY to Madison, WI. This area has one of the most distinct dialects in the country.
Best answer yet. This phenomenon is simply not as well known as other regional dialects.
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:35 PM
 
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New Englanders are Not "mainly of English and French descent". Huge numbers are Irish, Italians, and a lesser number Portuguese,
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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To my ear, the accents of Syracuse and Buffalo are quite distinct. I'm from CNY and I always know when I'm talking to a native WNY'er because they sound more Midwesterny (which I guess is the Northern vowel shift in action).
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Old 06-09-2011, 03:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Jeromeville View Post
To my ear, the accents of Syracuse and Buffalo are quite distinct. I'm from CNY and I always know when I'm talking to a native WNY'er because they sound more Midwesterny (which I guess is the Northern vowel shift in action).
True, because Buffalo is closer to the core of the Midwest.
But compared to say, Albany or the Hudson Valley, Syracuse sounds more Midwestern. I have lived in CNY as well.
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