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Old 01-13-2009, 12:10 AM
 
167 posts, read 265,600 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbergen View Post
it's funny how a lot of us don't realize that the way we speak has been subtly affected by the places we've lived.

i grew up with a lot of blue collar italians and irish in the new york area. some (but not all) of my classmates and their parents spoke with the thickest, most stereotypical accents imaginable. picture james gandolfini, bill parcells, joe pesci, or tony siragusa, and you'll have a good idea what some of my friends' dads were like.

yet in spite of being surrounded by such strong accents, i never developed one myself; in fact, i always assumed that the way i spoke was completely standard. in college (still in the northeastern u.s.), this belief was reinforced when i met people from suburban chicago, seattle, the bay area, southern california, florida, and suburban dallas and houston who pretty much seemed to talk the way i did. if there was any divergence in pronunciation or cadence, i just dismissed it as an individual quirk.

but once i actually visited some of these people on their home turf during summer breaks, i began to pick up on the differences.

in chicago, people say the words "talk", "walk", and "caught" like "tock", "wok", and "cot", whereas i would say "tawk", "wawk", and "cawt". waitresses there seemed slightly perturbed when i asked for a "cawfee" and "ahr-inj juice" and confused when i ordered a soda (as opposed to "pop"). not to mention, their accents are awfully nasal compared to what i'm used to; they would pronounce "larry" as "LAIR-ree" and "american" as "uh-MARE-i-kin", whereas i would say "LAH-ree" and "uh-MEH-rih-kun".

once my chicago friends and i were all back in new york, i started to notice that even they had a subtle midwestern inflection to their otherwise neutral american english. although their pronunciation of the telltale words was relatively muted, it had now become obvious to me. evidently, being exposed to a place where midwestern english is the norm had made me more attuned to the regional differences.

the same thing happened with my LA friends. i never felt that the way they spoke was particularly noteworthy until i visited LA for the first time. being surrounded by native southern californian kids made me realize that my friends' quirks, such as interjecting the word "yeah" in every other sentence (e.g. "so, um, yeahhh, you know, that place was pretty cool, and um...(pause)...yeahhh..."), wasn't just an individual thing. i also noticed that a lot of the girls spoke with what might be described as a valley girl accent and cadence, even if they grew up in san marino, beverly hills, fullerton, or torrance. interestingly, none of them seemed to realize this until i pointed it out. but to me, it's now very apparent in a good number of the native younger southern californian females i've met.

similarly, there's a certain flow to the way a lot of the native californian guys speak. i can't put my finger on it, but it kind of sounds like a really relaxed midwesterner with a generally neutral accent - there are some of the same pronunciations, but with a different flow. again, it's something that's become obvious to me as an outsider, but hard to quantify.
I'm trying to picture it already. I think the people in your region without a shadow of a doubt speak have sharply influenced accents. It's also nice to hear from someone who grew up in New York. I can hear a personal experience rather than some inferior stereotype by an "out of towner."

The areas you mentioned in your second paragraph do appear "standard." As for college experience, the college I went to was very diverse. Most of the students and teachers spoke with heavy accents. Think Jennifer Lopez, Fran Drescher, Judd Hirsch, Judge Judy, etc. These people either grew up in the northeast or had ancestors from that region.

At least they didn't talk really fast though. I sometimes I had to have them repeat sentences. I remember when my next door neighbors were having a lot remodeling done in summer of '07. My brother was laughing hysterically and soon I was too. My brother told me, "Those guys sound like Joe Pesci!" They did. They were swearing big time!

Your fourth paragraph is another good indicator of the northeast influence on working class Chicagoans and people from my region. The younger generation (as tough as they appear) actually talks that. It really annoys me and whenever I had to call or visit a place, I sometimes I had to yell at them to "speak slowly, speak softly, and speak clearly." That quote comes from Judge Judy.

Finally, you ae totally right about the flow and terminology of Southern California "dude" talk. As a Family Guy fan, go to You Tube and type in "Family Guy Laguna Beach." That will tell you exactly how they sound like.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:47 AM
 
2,105 posts, read 5,361,545 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BRinSM View Post
when i lived in virginia there were a mix of accents from all over the east. the most common was a mostly generic american accent with y'all thrown in on occassion. there were also some serious country accents as well, but apparently these people weren't from the city. i don't think most people could tell i was from CA except when i would say dude multiple times in one sentence. i also thought it was funny when i was at some fast food place and was talking about directions to somewhere with a friend when the cashier told me that i must be from CA. she said she knew this because i used the word "the" before saying the freeway number (ie 405, 101, 10, etc.) i was talking about. she said she had spent time in San Diego and picked up on that while she was there. i guess on the east coast they don't say "the 95". i think they throw "I" in front of interstates, "highway" in front of state routes or simply just the number.
yes, "the" appears to be a CA thing. perhaps, that's because we have a more 'personal' relationship with our freeways. in other parts of the country, highways just pass through and skirt the edges of cities on their way to someplace else, while our freeways are a central to the landscape and feel like they belong to us. i remember during a trip to seattle years ago, i was driving along and suddenly became aware that i was on the 5, the same 5. my first thought was, "what's that doing here?" i had to pause to remind myself why it's called an interstate, because, of course, i NEVER call it that.

btw, i also got pegged by a southerner in a fast food place in the southeast. he didn't explain exactly how he knew i was from CA; he just said he could tell from my "accent." until then, i didn't know i had one.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:03 AM
 
Location: Palm Springs, CA
25,250 posts, read 14,565,430 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katenik View Post
yes, "the" appears to be a CA thing. perhaps, that's because we have a more 'personal' relationship with our freeways.
Actually, I believe the usage of "the" is a leftover from the days when the freeways went by their proper names.

When freeways were first constructed, they were given names such as the "San Diego Freeway" or the "Santa Monica Freeway". Years later as the numbering system was implemented, some people continued to call the freeways by their proper names, while others began using the numbers.

So, instead of telling people to "take the Santa Monica Freeway", the usage morphed into saying "take the 10". That's why you also hear people say "the 10 Freeway" or "the 91 Freeway". The numbers are a substitute for the old names.

Get it?

Interestingly, in Northern California, the article "the" was dropped over time. You do still hear people in San Francisco talk about "the Bayshore Freeway" or "the Nimitz Freeway", but instead of calling them "the 101" or "the 880", almost everyone uses the numbers only - without the "the" - as in "take 101 south" or "take 880 north".

If you're in San Francisco and call Highway 101 "the 101" instead of just "101", you're immediately pegged as a Southern Californian.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:17 AM
 
2,105 posts, read 5,361,545 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnUnidentifiedMale View Post
Actually, I believe the usage of "the" is a leftover from the days when the freeways went by their proper names.

When freeways were first constructed, they were given names such as the "San Diego Freeway" or the "Santa Monica Freeway". Years later as the numbering system was implemented, some people continued to call the freeways by their proper names, while others began using the numbers.

So, instead of telling people to "take the Santa Monica Freeway", the usage morphed into saying "take the 10". That's why you also hear people say "the 10 Freeway" or "the 91 Freeway". The numbers are a substitute for the old names.

Get it?

Interestingly, in Northern California, the article "the" was dropped over time. You do still hear people in San Francisco talk about "the Bayshore Freeway" or "the Nimitz Freeway", but instead of calling them "the 101" or "the 880", almost everyone uses the numbers only - without the "the" - as in "take 101 south" or "take 880 north".

If you're in San Francisco and call Highway 101 "the 101" instead of just "101", you're immediately pegged as a Southern Californian.
nah, that's my story and i'm stickin' to it!
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:53 AM
 
Location: GLAMA
16,589 posts, read 19,101,063 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EnchantedEvergreen View Post
You're absolutely right. I have not spent time around the noted surf culture in Southern California. What do you exactly mean by comparing a "Chicago accent" to that of Brooklyn? I have an idea but do explain.
I'm not comparing, I'm using both as examples of accents that (to me) leave no doubt as to place of origin.

Remember "Valspeak"? "Ewwww, aws if, gawg me with a speeewn..." That would be a good (and annoying) example of an accent/dialect that's immediately recognizable as So Cal.

Same goes for the way Spicoli talked in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, although Penn troweled it on thicker than necessary, but after all, that's Hollywood.
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Cushing OK
9,648 posts, read 6,850,855 times
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When I was growing up people would ask me if I had lived in the midwest because of some of the terms I used, since they were pure midwest. But I and my mom and grandfather were born here in cali. They were just used in the family.

What I find interesting here in OK is that there are a lot of calis here and its easy to tell, but after a while you pick up a bit of an accent, and its still got cali in it with a bit of ok on top.

Can't wait to go back to cali for the holiday and have someone tell me I have an accent lol
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:04 AM
 
829 posts, read 1,541,023 times
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so did the blacks get there accent from the southern blacks who moved out here a long time ago? im very curious as to where they picked up there accent, because it is very different then others?
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,362 posts, read 53,004,318 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CelticViking View Post
so did the blacks get there accent from the southern blacks who moved out here a long time ago?
Seems really likely. I was talking to a lady on the phone here in Alabama, we hadn't met. I would have sworn she was African American (and her name is Cretia; to me, that sounds like it could be an African American lady's name.) Nope, she was white.
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:47 AM
 
536 posts, read 808,693 times
Reputation: 319
Quote:
Originally Posted by CelticViking View Post
so did the blacks get there accent from the southern blacks who moved out here a long time ago? im very curious as to where they picked up there accent, because it is very different then others?
Yea, I would assume that's the most logical explanation.
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Denver, Colorado U.S.A.
10,420 posts, read 11,761,837 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnUnidentifiedMale View Post
Interesting info about California English:

California English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Fun quiz to figure out your accent:

Which American accent do you have? - Quiz - YouThink.com
Wow - they got me right. I'm "Western". Having lived most of my life in Denver and the L.A. area, I don't notice any difference in accents in both cities, so this makes sense according to the Western accent map.
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