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Old 01-27-2012, 12:05 PM
 
Location: London
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And if so who would represent the embodiment of such an accent in 2012? When I think of a traditional Irish American accent I think of my uncle and my family who now live in New Jersey, James Cagney and Dennis Leary as perhaps a more recent example but this is where I get somewhat confused.

For though Dennis Leary comes from Boston or Massachusetts I can barely tell the difference between his accent and that of a native Irish New Yorker sitting on a barstool in a bar in say Midtown Manhattan, Woodside or McLean Avenue.

To give an example of what I interpret an Irish New Yorker to sound like my Uncle and cousins (alot less so but a slight brogue remains) tend to pronounce coffee as "cawfee" or "those bottles over there" as "Dose boddles over there".

I grew up in an Irish part of London called Kilburn (which is somewhat less intrinsically Irish today) where alot of us do have a slight or very pronounced Irish brogue and I just wondered whether the Irish New York accent is an accent that has stood the test of time or an accent that has been consigned to history as Irish residents move out to New Jersey and once exclusively Irish neighbourhoods become more mixed in demographics.

The reason I ask this question is that the Jewish and Italian accents of New York are so well defined culturally and have taken such prominence when it comes to deciphering the traditional New York accent that I wonder if other chracteristics from other ethnic groups and nationalities that have contributed to the New York accent have been somewhat overlooked as the years roll by.

Perhaps the New York Irish accent has indeed faded out and/or has been neutralised altogether as New York becomes more a reflection of transplants moving in than New Yorkers who've lived there for generations. But as I'm quite fond of the New York accent I would appreciate any input on the New York Irish accent, historically as well as it's present relevance/irrelevance.

Input about other types of New York accent would also be helpful whatever nationality or ethnic group be it Greek-New York, African-American New York, Chinese New York or Puerto Rican New Yorker etc...
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:13 PM
 
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My grandmother had, and a few others in my family have, a distinct Irish brogue, having been born in Ireland. As far as I could tell from my grandmother's accent, it never faded/changed over the years, until her death. She came to NYC at 16 years old and died at 94. My parents accents (both born in the Bronx) are more like the people they grew up with. I don't hear anything distinctive, but I have been told by some friends that they have more of a "NY" accent. But I hear many people who aren't of Irish descent say "cawfee" and things like that too.
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Old 01-27-2012, 05:07 PM
 
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Default New York Irish Accents

Check out John Mcdonagh and the other hosts of Radio Free Eierann on WBAI. The shows are archived on line.., not sure if posting a link is allowed.

You will hear some genuine New York Irish working class accents...at least from people that grew up in NY during the 50's and 60's. The NY accent is pretty much dying out with the younger generation of all ethnicities.

By the way, the show is often hilarious though the knee-jerk pro dissident IRA political stance is questionable to me and some others perhaps.
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Old 01-27-2012, 05:21 PM
 
Location: Glendale NY
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Not anymore.
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Old 01-28-2012, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Manhattan
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Malachy McCort!
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:23 AM
 
Location: London
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mc33433 View Post
My grandmother had, and a few others in my family have, a distinct Irish brogue, having been born in Ireland. As far as I could tell from my grandmother's accent, it never faded/changed over the years, until her death. She came to NYC at 16 years old and died at 94. My parents accents (both born in the Bronx) are more like the people they grew up with. I don't hear anything distinctive, but I have been told by some friends that they have more of a "NY" accent. But I hear many people who aren't of Irish descent say "cawfee" and things like that too.
Fair point, I suppose saying 'cawfee' instead of coffee isn't necessarily applicable to Irish New Yorkers but I've often being in an Irish bar in Manhattan or the Bronx where I still hear that rat-a-tat-tat Cagney-esque accent on the occasions when I do get to visit my family.

The way Irish New Yorkers can comfortably flit from a genine New York accent to an Irish brogue is very charismatic. As an Irishman I kind of like the way Irish Americans proudly display their identity. But as in England this can vary depending on the area and outlook of a particular person. Many of Irish descent in England tend to become absorbed into the fabric of English life to such an extent that they sadly neglect their heritage altogether. Guess it's getting that way in New York now too.

However, in the London Irish neighbourhood I grew up in (famously referred to as county Kilburn though times have changed) as well as parts of Manchester, Liverpool and (especially) Glasgow the Irish community still wears its heritage proudly on its sleeve for all to see.

Last edited by Fear&Whiskey; 01-28-2012 at 11:45 AM..
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:40 AM
 
Location: London
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nunya Bidness View Post
Check out John Mcdonagh and the other hosts of Radio Free Eierann on WBAI. The shows are archived on line.., not sure if posting a link is allowed.

You will hear some genuine New York Irish working class accents...at least from people that grew up in NY during the 50's and 60's. The NY accent is pretty much dying out with the younger generation of all ethnicities.

By the way, the show is often hilarious though the knee-jerk pro dissident IRA political stance is questionable to me and some others perhaps.
Thanks for the suggestion. I will certainly check it out. I love the Irish sense of humour. I grew up with it but still, the sharp tongue of an Irish woman and the jovial and astute observations of a traditional Irishman are a treasure to behold.

As for the IRA I grew up in a well known Irish part of London as a child. Alot of Irish and London-Irish residents residing in my neighbourhood were labelled with suspicion by the authorities, very often without good reason. It was the headquarters for IRA recruiters in London and it wasn't strange to see Sinn Fein collection tins rattled on the streets or to have men in balaclavas storm a pub rattling collection tins for 'the cause'. I also saw armed gunmen storm into our class one day, pinning a priest and our R.E teacher to the wall.

Strange times looking back but though I can see why you understandably question the pro-dissident stance of alot of Irish New Yorkers I also believe on the flip side of the coin that the one sided, historically inaccurate and divisive commentary in the British tabloid press leaves alot to be desired. But that's a whole other discussion, one that is unlikely to provide any new insight or productive results. I just pray that we continue to move forward in unity and that peace prevails despite those on both sides that are intent on dragging the will of the good and decent Irish people down.

Anyway, back on topic. Thanks for all the comments about the Irish New York accent so far.

Last edited by Fear&Whiskey; 01-28-2012 at 11:52 AM..
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:39 PM
 
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My neighborhood in downtown Manhattan was predominantly Irish until the mid 90's and many of us had NY accents to varying degrees. Some people who would listen to us thought we had some form of brogue. I used to get the accent more when I was tired or had a few drinks but now in my early 30s that doesn't happen as much.

The neighborhood was also Jewish and Italian but most in our orbit were of Irish descent. The development was sold and it's indistinguishable from what it used to be.

When we were younger and were in our cups we'd speak in fairly authentic Irish brogues for fun and to pick up chicks. They always loved the accent.

Great info about Kilburn by the way. I went there a few times when I lived in London ten years ago or so and it was great craic!
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:12 PM
 
Location: London
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Originally Posted by CeltNYC View Post
My neighborhood in downtown Manhattan was predominantly Irish until the mid 90's and many of us had NY accents to varying degrees. Some people who would listen to us thought we had some form of brogue. I used to get the accent more when I was tired or had a few drinks but now in my early 30s that doesn't happen as much.

The neighborhood was also Jewish and Italian but most in our orbit were of Irish descent. The development was sold and it's indistinguishable from what it used to be.

When we were younger and were in our cups we'd speak in fairly authentic Irish brogues for fun and to pick up chicks. They always loved the accent.

Great info about Kilburn by the way. I went there a few times when I lived in London ten years ago or so and it was great craic!
Glad you enjoyed your visit. I still love Kilburn and haven't moved too far from my original home. I'm still just a few stops away by tube and wouldn't be anywhere else on St. Paddy's Day. The apple doesn't stray too far from the tree as far as I'm concerned. I still consider the place my home and practically live there most week-ends anyhow.

Talking of Kilburn look out for a film that will be coming out in the next couple of years called 'Clan:London' which is going to be shaped on the experiences of two rival Irish families who have moved to London from Ireland in the 70's and traces their lives over three generations. One of them is loosely based on an Irish family well known in the Kilburn area. Part of the filming will be done in Ireland, and some of it in America too in Boston or New York I think so it might be of some interest to Irish American viewers as well as I'm certain American actors will be taking part in the film.

The Irish super-middleweight ex-world champ Steve Collins is set to play a part so it should be good. I'll make sure to post details in the relevant Entertainment and UK forums nearer the time of the films release in a year or so from now for anyone who may be interested.
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:36 PM
 
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I think there is a distinctive Irish New Yorker accent. It may seem like a weird explanation, but I think it is a lighter version of the Italian New Yorker accent that seems to be the New York accent that people across the country know of. All the Irish New Yorkers I know do have a specific voice and I would describe it as a lot less heavy than my Italian friends.

It's really hard to describe, but when I think about it, I can definitely hear the difference in my head.
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