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Old 10-28-2010, 12:24 AM
 
531 posts, read 975,267 times
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great posts!!
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Old 10-28-2010, 06:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowardRoarke View Post
A little long-winded but I like this subject, in fact I find it fascinating. Random thoughts, facts, and observations:

Wolfgang Wolck at UB has studied the "northern cities shift". It starts where others noted, although I've heard it out in the countryside north and a little west of Albany. North of Syracuse, in and around Syracuse, and about halfway between there and Rochester is where I'd describe it as, well, "severe". I say that as a guy who grew up in Greece, but whose parents and extended family are from Buffalo and Ontario Cty. I have a rather severe accent, and, no, it hasn't left me after moving south, in fact it's probably getting more severe as I get older. The extended family in Ontario Cty, and into Fairport, Macedon, and whatnot have a pretty severe accent, in fact it's pretty funny, when I think about it. It's almost like the 'a''s are higher-pitched and people there hang on to them longer than other parts of the region. Some of this can be heard in Wayne Cty. as well.

Here's the "Guide to Buffalo English":

The Guide to Buffalo English



Most of Michigan has it, and parts of WI, OH, IN, IL, MO (along the river, and into the outskirts of St. Louis), MN, and IA have it, too. Some Northeastern OH folks (Elyria, Parma, etc.) have an almost identical accent to Rochester. The Buffalo accent sounds more central Midwestern to me, as in Chicago.

Shortly after moving to SC I was in an auto parts store one night, chatting with the guy behind the counter. Guy looks at me and says "You're from Rochester". Not "Are you from Rochester?", or, "Where are you from?", just "You're from Rochester". I was like a deer caught in headlights, as in "You gotta be kiddin' me" Most people here assume I'm from Wisconsin or thereabouts. I still habitually say "Neeeyork", instead of "New York", which seems to be another common peculiarity to "Rochester English".

The early French influence is key to the blending of syllables, as well as certain pronunciations and there are other Euro languages which do this, too, like Polish and Italian. I'd imagine the "queue" sound some are hearing comes from this, but I'm no expert. It stands to reason why this would be, considering Upstate's history going back to the 1600's, and the diverse Euro ethnic groups in and around the cities. I can mimic accents and dialects pretty well, as well as pick up on little idiosyncracies in how people talk. People in my family, more so the Buffalonians, do that "queue" thing all the time, and they do it with k's, too, for some reason. My dad does it, and he went to Catholic schools in Buffalo, all the way through college.

The severity of the Rochester accent, and points east, also pertains to hanging on to vowels, the hard K's and C's, and funny "r" sounds/hanging on to r's.

"When arrrrr you goin' to TAAHHhoze?"

"When arrrrrr we goin' to the (sometimes "da") House ah Guitaaarzzzzz???" ("of" is just not annunciated in some circles).

"What time is the AAAAAHmerks game? We parkin' at Nuh/Neh/TANyellz?"

"C'mAAAAAaahhhhhn, AAAAAaaaaahhhmerks! Freakin' scorrrre, already!!!"

"You get those/dose SAAAAAYbers tickets, yet?"

"Let's go to DAAAaaahn and BAAAaaahb's", or "DAahn and BAaahb's".

I find it funny that despite these vocalizations, Rochester people tend to talk fast. It's common to hear people from all over the region say "RAAchster". It's like some words are dragged out, and others are blended and stated shorter than in other regions. Long, short, long, short, almost like there's a pattern to it. People like to make fun of how people talk in the South, but, good grief, some might argue the dialects up that way are in a category all their own, and one at which folks could easily poke fun A movie set in the Rochester area pretty much sums up the RAAAschster accent; it's called "Drivers Wanted".

Like anywhere, it's moreso amongst working class folks, and in Rochester that generally pertains to the west side, and somewhat out in farm country. My accent reflects this, and in some social settings around there it can raise some eyebrows, even questions like "Are you from the west side?", or statements like "You must be from the west side". People I know who grew up in the city, west and east sides have it even more severe than a lot of suburbanites. Personally, I can't help but have a good time around some of those friends because the accent is so funny, and the pronunciations are so specific to the area that it makes me laugh. Mostly they're from around Bay St. and points east and north from there (Parcells, Culver, etc.), and then over to Dutchtown and the old 10th Ward. Folks of Italian, Polish, and Ukranians descent seem to have it down pat.

Some folks I know who grew up in the city around Euro ethnic groups which were a different background from their own have taken on some of the vocalizations of those groups. The Italians win out, here, as they're the next largest ethnic group after Germans, and their vocalizations are strong. Folks who grew up in the city, and/or around Italians say "mingya" and other terms Italians with regularity (I still do this), and tend to sound like Italians with the inflection and whatnot. No doubt this is because of neighbors, fellow students, relatives, teachers, church associations, and other community influences. People in Rochester tend to be more dramatic than folks in other places, too

I've heard Italians from the two old major Italian neighborhoods (between Bay and Clifford/Waring Rd., and Dutchtown) who pretty much all sounded the same, and this has carried into Irondequoit, Greece, and Gates, and other areas where there are pockets of Italians. These folks (Italians and folks who grew up around Italians/in the city) tend to have the accent/dialect in the most severe way, and they talk LOUD Some of the Jewish folks I know in that area also have it, especially if they grew up in the city.

According to some experts, the "shift" is getting more pronounced, and spread out as time goes on. This is different from NYC. where fewer and fewer folks have the typical "NewYawk" dialect everyone knows. This is no doubt due to the fact it's truly international city, these days, and as people die off or move out the dialect has changed, or even disappeared amongst some younger folks.

Down in Columbia, and on down to the coast there's a definite French influence, as well. Like "shaaaarrrr-LAAAT", there's a street in Columbia called "Huger". The proper pronunciation is "HUGHHHH-geee", and it comes from the French influence in the region, before the Civil War. I'd argue that the accent/dialect down here is a mishmash of colonial English, French, West African, and, in some places, Spanish. What's kinda funny to me, though, is despite the fact people habitually say things with French pronunciations down here (like in Rochester), I've caught myself, even hesitated when pronouncing "Charlotte", the city. If I said "shaaaarrrr-LOT/LAAAT", down here, people would probably look at me as if I were crazy.

It's the same everywhere, it all depends on who was there first, in large numbers, and who came afterwards and became school teachers, etc. I'd imagine Catholic schools in the North (mostly) had something to do with the dialects up there, as large numbers of Catholics from Ireland, Germany, Poland, and Italy ended up there. Many sent their kids to Catholic school, only, in fact some in my extended family fall into that category. I'd imagine the early public school teachers were not as ethnically diverse as their counterparts in Catholic schools, at least for a couple of generations. You also have the large numbers of northern Europeans from Scandinavia and Holland who ended up in Upstate, in fact I think that's where a lot of the vocalizations come from. Most of those folks kept moving west, after they had a hand in building the canal (the first two canals), working on and around the canal for a while, preparing/selling land, and then moving into the Upper Midwest.

Why is this? The Erie Canal, Great Lakes shipping, and the railroads. The accent must have started in the Syracuse area, then moved through the Montezuma Swamp and points west, all the way pretty much to the Dakotas (I've heard it in small towns out that way). I just got done reading about Great Lakes shipping, a fascinating book about lake shipwrecks, and now I see how the entire region was connected, back in the day.

The canal had what were called "canawlers" who were the barge workers, and folks who ran the docks along the canal. Then you had the lake boat crews, and associated folks, who intermingled with the canawlers in Buffalo (usually these were not in positive ways). So, it stands to reason that with migration, the public and private schools, shipping/warehousing, and frequent associations with folks from across such a wide region that the accent spread far and wide.

I hope this wasn't too much for the Rochester forum, and I'm not trying to hijack the thread and whatnot. It's a subject I find fascinating, especially now that I don't live there anymore
I grew up in one of those Italian areas you mentioned and have to agree. I never realized that the whole "mingya" thing was specific to Rochester until I traveled around. Other cities with high Italian populations don't use that word like we do and look at me funny when I say it...... I guess if you know what it means, using that word like we do is strange.
I've also noticed the fast talking aspect. I get asked to slow down when I travel because I've been told I mash words together.
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:49 AM
 
Location: EPWV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garmin239 View Post
I grew up in one of those Italian areas you mentioned and have to agree. I never realized that the whole "mingya" thing was specific to Rochester until I traveled around. Other cities with high Italian populations don't use that word like we do and look at me funny when I say it...... I guess if you know what it means, using that word like we do is strange.
I've also noticed the fast talking aspect. I get asked to slow down when I travel because I've been told I mash words together.
"mingya" memories. I haven't heard that word in years. Not since I've moved away from the area. I remember my brother saying that more than I ever did though. Perhaps, more of a guy thing? Are they still saying that alot up there or is that one of those words that have died off like certain fads and using words like "cool", which come to think of it, I haven't heard that said in quite a while either.
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by cat1116 View Post
"mingya" memories. I haven't heard that word in years. Not since I've moved away from the area. I remember my brother saying that more than I ever did though. Perhaps, more of a guy thing? Are they still saying that alot up there or is that one of those words that have died off like certain fads and using words like "cool", which come to think of it, I haven't heard that said in quite a while either.
people still use the word...... I used to get the wooden spoon for using it but after a lifetime of hearing family members and friends say it, I can't help but use it.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Greenville, SC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garmin239 View Post
people still use the word...... I used to get the wooden spoon for using it but after a lifetime of hearing family members and friends say it, I can't help but use it.
I've heard it from Italians who grew up in various city neighborhoods, as well as the 'burbs. Also, it doesn't appear to be particular to, say, Sicilians, as I've heard folks whose families came from N. Italy say it, too.
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:38 AM
 
Location: EPWV
10,958 posts, read 6,162,859 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garmin239 View Post
people still use the word...... I used to get the wooden spoon for using it but after a lifetime of hearing family members and friends say it, I can't help but use it.
That was the wooden spoon with the hole in the middle?
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Dallas
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Great posts! Brings back fond memories of home. Oh, you guys do talk like that, my BIL and his brother crack me up...mingya, hide dat spoon!!
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:30 PM
 
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Great discussion! I'm learning a lot. RE: "hamburg", my dad used to use that term. I never heard it anywhere else, except for 2 places. The first was Iowa City where I went to college. A popular greasy spoon in town where we'd go after hitting the bars was called the Hamburg Inn. The second was in Jack Kerouac's novel, On the Road. I wonder if it is a dated term, more popular back in the day. The Hamburg Inn bragged on their menu "Since 1946", and On The Road was written about the same year. My Dad would've been a young man during that period. Maybe it was a faddish term from that era.

Thanks for the Urban Dictionary reference for mingya, Howard. When I was a kid, I used to get my haircuts at Nick's Barber Shop near Main & Winton. Some days there'd be old Italian guys in there hanging around. They'd speak Italian to Nick and his partner (don't remember his name), and their talk would be peppered with mingyas. I remember when I was in grade school at St. "Jahhhn's" on Humbolt St. the older boys would say mingya but it was obvious to us it was some type of swear word, not to be used in the presence of our families, teachers or girls. Never knew what it meant, but we speculated, of course.

marmom, "yous" was big among some of my relatives, only they pronounced it "yiz". Still remember going over to my uncle's house in Greece and he'd greet us with a big smile and a hearty "Gooda see yiz!"
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:35 PM
 
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It's kind of strange that a word that means penis is used as an expression
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Old 10-28-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Around View Post
marmom, "yous" was big among some of my relatives, only they pronounced it "yiz". Still remember going over to my uncle's house in Greece and he'd greet us with a big smile and a hearty "Gooda see yiz!"
I guess it does sound more like "yiz" now that you mention it .


Quote:
Originally Posted by garmin239 View Post
It's kind of strange that a word that means penis is used as an expression
It's not unlike some of the swearwords commonly used in English. Take for example $h!t. We all know it means feces, but the word can be used as an expression in many ways. "Oh $h!t! I stubbed my toe..." "Holy $h!t that was awesome!" Same goes for the "f" word. A word referring to intercourse used as an expression (positive or negative) - not too far off from the mingya concept.
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