Compiled by Adam Gaffin
There I was, in the middle of the jungle in Guatemala, on the top of the tallest temple in Tikal. It was a beautiful sunset. Suddenly, from the other side of the temple, I heard "Renee, Renee, come around to the noahth side. That's wheah all the monkeys ah!" Sure enough, after we climbed down the temple I asked where they were from: Buhlington, of coahse."
Some comments about being a Bostoner abroad (further out than Worcester): People think I'm from New York. Once they hear I'm from Boston, they tell me some god-awful boring story of the time they went to Boston back in 1963 and how nice it was. When you say "aunt," people mock you by acting like you're some sort of blueblood. "Oh, Buffy, there's our AHNT." Puleeaase!
-- Christine Leccese
Yes, Bostonians really do drop their Rs after As, just like the Pepperidge Fahm Man.
But there's a lot more to the accent than that! It's not just after the A's that the R's go away. They disappear after other vowels as well, particularly "ee" sounds, so that one could properly argue that "Reveah is wicked wee-id" (translation: "Revere is unusual"). Christine Leccese explains the profound effect this can have on one's life: "I was 17 and reading a driver's ed. book before I realized that the mirror that hung from the windshield in the car was the REAR VIEW mirror. After hearing my family call it the 'reahview' my whole life, I thought it was REview mirror - so that you could review what you just passed, naturally."
Don't worry about poor lost New England R's, however. In typical Yankee fashion, we re-use 'em - by sticking them on the ends of certain other words ending with "uh" sounds: "Ah final ahs just disappeah, but wheah they go we've no idear."
But wait, it gets more complex. As seasoned Boston English speakah Alan Miles has gently tried to pound into a poor Nooyawka's thick head, that missing R only reappears when the word is followed by another word that starts with a vowel, for example: "I have no idear if the movie begins at nine or ten," but, "Does the movie begin at 9 or 10? I have no idea." Hey, just like French! Leccese, the Boston driver, also grew up wondering about the phrase "catchers catch can."
Jonathan E. Dyer notes this rule is nullified for certain words ending in "ure" such as "rapsha" (extreme joy) and "capsha" (what you do with a flag).
Also like French (and German), Boston English has an almost-R sound that is very difficult for most other Americans to reproduce. You'll hear it in words with an "er" sound. In Boston, the ordinal number after "second" is pronounced, roughly, "thihd." Try saying it as if you meant to pronounce the R but then thought better of it.
In Boston English, "ah" (the one without an R after it) sometimes becomes something closer to "aw", so that, for example, "tonic" comes out more like "tawnic" (former Mayor Kevin White would often express outrage by exclaiming "Motheragawd!"). In other cases, however, it assumes a British pronunciation, as in "ahnt and "bahthroom," says Carrie-Anne Dedeo, a native of B'rica (which is how you pronounce "Billerica" around here).
Bostonians, like Nooyawkas, often leave out consonants in their rush to get words out, in particular, d's and t's at the end of words. So "so don't I" is more properly pronounced "So doan I," real-estate brokers babble on about houses with plenny a chahm and we get such phrases as onna-conna. Also like Nooyawkas, Bostonians often change the "s" at the end of words to a a "z." "I toll you already, I can't go out on Tuesdiz, 'caz that's when I got practiz," as Don Hurter recalls.
However, Ds at the end of words ending in "id" sounds end up as Ts, so that, for example, "wicked" comes out as "wicket."
But sometimes, Bostonians add consonants, as well. Jeff W. recalls: "My father, who grew up in Brighton in the 1940s and 50s, adds the letter 'n' to the words 'out' and 'outside.' It's sort of a slum version of the Boston accent, as I've heard others from that time and place use it. Therefore, I grew up saying things like, 'Ya wanna go ountside in the yahd?' 'Let's find ount who's going.'
Your uncle's wife is your "ahnt," not your "ant."
And one-syllable words with long-I sounds, such as "mine," often turn into two-syllable words: "Gimme back that curlin' eye-yen, it's MAYAN!" (as Douglas K. Lennan notes). Bostonians also sometimes add H's to the beginning of words that begin with a vowel, reports Jo: "We buy our hundaweah at Hames."
Finally, in certain blue-collar communities on the North Shore, speakers sometimes replace Rs with, of all things, Vs, reports John Lawler, who provides an example: "Tevesah doesn't have any bvains, she's from Veveah."
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So don't I.
"So don't I" is unique to Massachusetts.
My mom not only says 'mine' as a two-syllable word, there is also YOAHS 'yours,' STOAH 'store,' and FOAH 'one, two, three, four.' She was born in Westfid (Westford) and grew up in Low'l (Lowell), (I grew up in Tewksbry (Tewksbury)) but sounds like she's from Maine, which is weird because both of her parents were of Canadian descent. Never met my grandfather (he died when my mom was 15), but my grandmother didn't sound anything like that. She had a very thick Canadian-French accent.
I'm glad I don't sound like a Kennedy, but I do still use certain regional phrases (I've lived in Florida now for 11 years) like 'hang a left' or 'bang a U-ey.' I made a conscious effort to never pick up the whole 'wicked' thing. Wicked Awesome sounded contradictory to me. LOL But I loved Charles Laquidara/Dwayne Glasscock. "Wicked Pissa!"
I work with a couple of New Englanders here, and it was fun recently to quiz one guy. "Remember Willie Whistle?" or "Cap'n Bob?" or "Zoom?" "02134 - send it to Zoom." He mentioned 'Uncle Gus,' which sounds vaguely familiar. He's been here for close to 20 years, but still remembers Charles, and Mark Parenteau and Gerry Williams and Howie Carr. Boston fixtures. Pardon me for ranting, but I'm still upset that Charles got moved from WBCN to WZLX to make room for Howard Stern (who is a total ass in my book). I miss 'ZLX, and WBOS, WCGY, WRKO, WHDH and WFNX. I miss the Boston Phoenix, the Rat, and I miss Hahvid Squa-ah. LOL Most of all, I miss Fenway Park. Go Sox!!!!
I know I went off-topic, and I apologize. If there's a forum for ex-New Englanders to reminisce, I'd appreciate a link.
Take cayuh. Hope to heah from y'all (no, I didn't pick that up, either - never going to)
Does anyone remember Major
Does anyone remember Major Mudd? He had a kiddie show in the 60s (where he introduce cahtoons). He wore a space suit, and I think his "space mawjul" was on stage too. My father used to watch with me sometimes - said he would love to live next door to the guy - he looked like he was having a good time. Of course the humor went right over my head..
one syllable words
I had tears coming out of my eyes when reading this... I've been gone for a long time, but this was reading words from the home of the heart... and I know I'm home when I hear (or is it heya') someone say "shuwah" for a reasonable one syllable word, 'sure'. I grew up in Dorchester and Hull, and still can make people laugh at me with certain words I've never learned to say like a regular North American!
Intrusive r + short o
"Reveah is wicked wee-id" overlooks the intrusive r rule (insert /r/ between 2 vowel sounds).
The short o is a short low unrounded back vowel like the a in father in the Midwest and most of the US. The IPA symbol is ?.
In NY (and London) it's a short mid rounded back vowel located in the same position in the mouth as a long o only short. The IPA symbol is ?.
In Boston it's a short low rounded back vowel. Pronounced like the Midwestern version only with the lips rounded. The IPA symbol is ?.
Traveling in Europe, my Boston dialect really threw Europeans off, whether I was speaking English or my second language. They couldn't tell where I was from. It didn't quite sound British and didn't quite sound American.
i actually do miss boston :)
wazaa dude im an expat fams from brookline/rozi but yea i moved to china and peeps here no matter the expats or chinese at first never realized where i came from , accept them minorities that were actually from ma. but most were from the Worcester area
unfortunately i had moved to other location's too
eh' but seen how people are and live is the best choiuce i made
if any one else would like to email me for business or personal i would appreciate it
I need to get back to the roots of my hometown i dont eva wanna forget it
boston is not america nor england
it is Boston~!
and if i could i'd make boston into its own country
i was born in Woobin (the Woo).
I have never added an R to any word.
Some may *try* too hard putting the R back in.
ie. someone that move out side 495.
ps was the challenge question written by a Journalist ?
I've got to agree, we don't add r's
I've got to agree, we do not add r's to the end of words. A Boston accent doesn't include the pronouncing idea, idear.
Adding the letter r
Bostonians don't drop the letter R, they recycle the R. listen to when a word ending in w is pronounced in the present participle
(-ing). It comes out grawring, or drawring
we dont talk like that, what crap
we definitely do...
I'm a girl and i had to "put a bra ron"
pockabook for pocketbook
idear - i hear it all the time
Quite In Depth
Wow, that's the most in depth review I have evah' read about the Boston accent. Aside from being amazed you took so long to write it, it was pretty funny. I never heard the extra "r" being added by Bostonians but I have heard other people add them but can't pin point where exactly they were from.
Corey Fischer - Owner - Cami Secret
I'm from Medfid. We never said Meffa like so many people like to say. I definitely say my R's but I must be doing everything similar to what the writer said. I get comments all the time on my accent and they are not always positive. I gave a talk years ago regarding a subject and a couple of people came up to me after the talk was over - they said we're guessing where you are from. I think my accent can be very distracting and if people are not listening to the stuff coming out of my mouth - I need to find a good speech therapist.
I found this article to be excellent and most people just say Bostonians drop their R's. I found this to hit the nail on head in all the other areas I may not realize I'm doing!
THANK YOU !
One thing I don't see is the soft "T" sounds some people use if it's at the end of a phrase. As in "I know it" or "you're right." They extend it to an S sound. It's very charming!
I think that this is a common accent in Boston (sorry, BaHston), but on the extreme side and not everyone there speaks that way. I live in New Jersey, and although people from outside of New Jersey love to think that we all have accents, the majority of us do not. Same thing with people I've met from Brooklyn and Staten Island, they do not all come with the crazy accent.
Sally from Kitten Advice
The soft t is an Irish thing. In Munster in particular, out becomes outsh, throat becomes throatsh etc. Mine gaining a syllable is also an Irish phenomenon. We like doubling up on the syllables. Film becomes fill-um, Mine is mayan, the town of Moate is pronounced Mo-at (or even Mo-atsh in some places!)
'Came across this article while looking up an Irish slang word and I've been laughing out loud - or lou-ud - for the past five minutes.
This had me thinkin. I'm from
This had me thinkin. I'm from Worcester Ma....and I have a crazy "wista" accent. My boyfriend and I moved to Miami for a while. He has family there, who we stayed with and his siblings there asked if I was foreign because of my accent hahaha. Another thing about people from Ma (I travel a lot, so I've been to many other regions of the U.S. and hear others talk)....we swear A LOT. Instead of "ummm", I find we often use the 'f' word in the same drawn out fashion. Personally I love it. I wouldn't change the way I talk even if I could. I feel like a retahd every time I try to pronounce "r"s in words. "f**kiiiiin.....pahk the cah in the garage kid"
My mom and dad are from Wochester (sp?) Lemonster area and they both say r on the end of soda so its kinds like sodr.
Don't forget the days of the
Don't forget the days of the week:
Those Pesky Rs
While we may drop Rs in many words, for some reason they do show up in the oddest places. Much like John Lennon's pronunciation of the line from 'A Day In The Life' by the Beatles, "I saw a film today, oh boy." would come out as "I sorra film..."
P.S. Whether he held the ball or not, Slaughter was just too GD fast!
This whole article made me
This whole article made me weep. Makes me homesick. I'm in the armpit of the U.S.(Texas) right now and like everyone thinks weah like Family Guy. I'm get outta heah, you like that gahbage? So don't I....not! Ugh. Still it's good to see we transplants won't let them take away from us what makes the hub and everyone from it special. Always representin' Fouah Cawnahrs.
If you're not from Boston . . .
If you're from Woobin, Medfid, Deadem, or anywhere outside of the city limits (actually outside of certain neighborhoods like Southie, Dawchesta, or Rozzie) you're not from Boston. Even Eastie is not from Boston, it's moah like Reveah.
I think the phrase is actually "catch as catch can", meaning take the opportunity when it presents itself. With the Boston accent, "catch as" sounds like "catchers".