Brian Williams attempts the local patois

Editors at the New York Daily News labored hard over their cups of cawfee to come up with:

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation rolled out traffic messages which dropped the 'r' in favor of 'ah' to resonate with drivers using the notorious New England pronunciation.

Associated Press felt compelled to explain the sign to its readers westa Wuhstuh:

"Blinkah" is how Bostonians pronounce "blinker," otherwise known as a turn signal.

CTV, up in the Great White North, noted:

The creative spelling is a tribute to the so-called Boston “dialect” that makes New Englanders stand out from their neighbours along the U.S. eastern seaboard.

Across the pond, the Daily Mail declared:

Wicked awesome! Massachusetts police encourage driver safety with road sign accents they can understand



    Free tagging: 


    non-rhotic accents, not dialect

    It is kind of amusing, but not a difficult concept, cf. most of the United Kingdom. I'm not sure why people have such difficult distinguishing Boston accents - "use yah blinkah" - from Boston dialects - "you better wicked use your blinker at that rotary." The National Geographic feeling of the commentary would be better if it was more accurate.

    Also, what group of Americans doesn't call a turn signal a 'blinker'? "These quirky New Yorkers refer to their automobiles as `cars.'"

    Anyway, New Englanders are objectively incorrect when they call roundabouts rotaries, but that's more the fault of transportation engineers than it is haphazard English.


    Many don't say blinkers. I

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    Many don't say blinkers. I grew up in the mid-Atlantic states calling them turn signals.


    Rotary, traffic circle , same

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    Rotary, traffic circle , same same. Roundabout, that's like an indirect path to where you are going , the long way , perhaps to avoid or delay something. A rotary is no place to be rambling about, indecisive , it's ram or be rammed .


    Roundabouts vs rotaries

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    No incorrectness here. They are two distinct things: Rotaries are big beasties designed to accommodate large volumes of traffic. Roundabouts are dainty, tiny little things designed to slow traffic on small roads that become speedway shortcuts.

    And traffic circles are what people in New York have.


    Well Adam, you may be a bit

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    Well Adam, you may be a bit incorrect after all, but in a different way.

    Roundabouts can be used on large multilane roads with great success. It is even done here in New England, sporadically. Maine has some pretty sizeable roundabouts. And roundabouts are not intended to slow traffic down. If they are used as such that is an incorrect usage of them. They work best at intersections with traffic volumes evenly distributed between each approach. Whether those approaches are 6-lane arterials, 4-lane collectors, or 2-lane local streets does not matter.

    Essentially the hangup here is that while traffic circles and roundabouts are different things, rotaries are nothing more than local slang for them. Most MA "rotaries" are actually roundabouts.

    New signs

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    I am a Bostonian and I do not speak like that and none if my friends do either. I see these signs and they grate on my skin. Talking like that is considered low class and uneducated by people elsewhere. Sloppy. I think to represent our city like this is awful. I feel the safe way about Dunkin Donuts

    The people that think this is a small joke do not realize how big this has gotten. Friends I have in far away areas( nc,cal) have asked about if it is true. This isn't an inside joke where other people are not is a joke on us and to us.

    I think "townies" are the ones that like it and always are the loudest.people that think I'm being a tight ass should listen to car commercials, etc. They aren't laughing with us.

    My God

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    lighten up, well ya. You should hear the way people from England, if you a Boston dialect is 'low class'. And we're speaking their language. Would tell someone with a Manchester, London or othet English accent they aound 'low class' because they don't sound lile they're from a small town in Wisconsin or suburban LA?


    Dear Professor Higgins

    I've been all over the country, traveling different areas with my husband, kids, and/or MIL.

    So far as I can tell, the only people who think that the classic "Boston Accent" is sloppy or low class are people who are from Boston who think they have "bettered" themselves somehow by talking like a Midwestern TV news anchor.

    Everyone else seems to find the way my kids/husband/MIL speak to be quirky and novel and interesting, if not charming. Then again, most of those folks can't tell the "Kennedy" accent from a more common Boston neighborhood accent.


    Professor Swirls , the

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    Professor Swirls , the Kennedy thing is unique to the Kennedy's, they must train on it, elocution style, like the socialite girls trained walking with books on their heads. I know of no one that speaks like that. And they have spread out to Ny , Va. , Florida , and now appearing even in Japan. Anyway , the brogue is more pleasing to my ears, screw Harvard yard and parking my car, I always had to double park. Happy Mother's Day , Swirls ,


    Thank You, Kvn

    Yes, the "Kennedy" accent is very faux, indeed! But, as I noted, most of the US can't tell the difference (and I'm with you on the natural Boston accent being generally much nicer to listen to if you can tell the difference!).

    When travelling with my pack, my northwest cousins will engage my younger son in conversation just to hear that accent. They are similarly amused by my brother's wife, who sounds like Francis Dormond in Fargo! Not a superiority thing, though - just a novelty.


    Like you

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    Friends, family and others from around the country find how I speak interesting and amusing - in a loving way. The same way I find how they speak interesting and amusing. And we try each others' accents on. In addition to trying the accents on, I practice to slow my patter down as we here in the northeast tend to speak the fastest.

    And, yes, I often don't have the accent because I grew up in Reading, not in Boston-proper. It emerges occasionally, more often when I have a drink or 3 in me.

    Stay classy, Massachusetts. And frickin' use ya blinka, already.

    Explore Regional Accents On Mothers Day

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    Forty years ago, so many people would attempt to make long distance calls on Mothers Day, that the telephone network simply couldn't handle all the traffic. The electromechanical switching equipment would do the best it could to re-route calls through alternate cities, but when that failed, callers would hear a special announcement from a distant tandem switch, often recorded in the local accent of wherever that happened to be.

    Here's a collection of Mothers Day overload recordings from the 1970's, featuring many different regional accents from the US and Canada. It includes of course, Boston's own recording from the Bell System Sectional switching center on Franklin Street.

    Holy Mother's Day from Beyond the Grave!

    That sounds like my husband's grandmother, Ethel, who was a switchboard operator in that building until she moved to the Steamship Authority in the early 70s!

    She passed away two years ago, age 100.

    I feel the safe way about

    I feel the safe way about Dunkin Donuts

    What is the safe way to feel about Dunks? Does this mean that you get the medium regular, or you just stay with the crullah, urm, cruller?

    Lighten up! The Boston accent is one of the things that makes Boston, well, Boston.


    Same here.

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    I get the feeling a lot of people put it on. My brother, who never had a Boston accent, now speaks with a thick Boston accent, really going overboard in how he stresses his Ahs.


    Diane Sawyer...

    ...did not report the story last night, but it did take pride of place in that segment of snippets related to unusual events presented by a Brit whose name escapes me. He "translated" the sign word for word exactly as the AP did.

    When I was growing up, there seemed to be a generational shift in usage. My grandparents & great Uncles & Aunts all said "directionals"; my parents & others of their generation said "blinkers". Go figure...

    This is funny, because I've

    This is funny, because I've always called them blinkers, even when I've lived outside of New England. I wonder if I've left anyone scratching their heads.

    "I used my blinker before I turned into the place to get grinders."


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    He sounded to me like he had a authentic, old style 'New England' (I.e., down east Maine, Boston area) accent, which has almost died out completely. Most people with a Boston accent speak it much more subtle than the stereotype.