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nibbles woodaway

weeping on a willow, sleeping on a pillow, leaping armadillo, yes!

Posted on 2007.05.02 at 17:39
where am I: Vo Dylin'
Soundtrack: Paul McCartney and Wings - Big Barn Bed
Tags: , , ,
I know I'm procrastinating when I'm actually surfing Wikipedia. But y'know, find things. Like the page on the Boston accent.

"The Boston accent is the English dialect not only of the city of Boston, Massachusetts itself but also much of eastern Massachusetts." Check.

"It and closely related accents can be heard commonly in an area stretching throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and southern Maine." Check.

"These regions are frequently grouped together with Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut by sociolinguists under the cover term Eastern New England accent." SO, SO WRONG.

Rhode Islanders sound very different from Boston/Mass/Maine folken. Say a couple of people from, oh, I dunno, Cveeeeanstin (That's a common RI pronounciation, honest!) are sitting around with their friends from Boston wondering when Donna and Bobby are going to come back with the Chinese take-out. The RI people in the group will say "Daahner and Baahby". The Bostonians will say "Dawnah and "Bawby". The RI accent is more like New York than Boston, which may help explain the sad but true fact that many Rhode Islanders are fans of the Evil Empire. Also, Vo D'eyelandiz are, like Bostonians, are all about the non-rhoticity (how cool is that for a term?). The difference is that RI speakers put the R back. They say pahk and cah and sistah, sure, but they also say Linder and Hanner and idear and grammer (meaning "gramma").

Here is a typical example of the Boston accent. This guy lives in Dorchester, near Southie.

I tried to find a recording of a RI accent, but no, there isn't one. :/

Of course, none of this applies when you're talking about Woonsocket (pronounced "Woone sock két" or even "Woone sock ay" by the locals). The town was settled by immigrants from Québec who came to work in the mills. There probably aren't that many people under fifty with French accents, but they still use the grammar (sort of like how some Irish people still use the Gaelic grammar)If a guy from Woonsocket wants you to toss his jacket down to him, he's likely to say "t'row me down the stairs, my coat". He "pahks his cahs side by each", and, I kid you not, "lives on top of his mother". Well, if his mother lives in the flat downstairs, that is. :) If you go to Woonsocket, you'll want to drive slow your car.

Believe it or not, I've never been to Woonsocket. I might have gone through there to get from point A to point B, but I don't remember ever stopping there. This is not good, because Woonsocket has the Museum of Work and Culture. Really, I should lose my geek license for not ever going there.

If you're really interested in the Rhode Island accent, or are a giantgiant dork like me (and you are, if you're really interested in the Rhode Island accent), you might want to take a look at this little RI dictionary. fascinating.

And hmm. I wonder why, after twenty-eight years of living in RI, I don't consider myself a Rhode Islander? *waves "I'm From Massachusetts" banner*

This pointless post took forever to write (I'm cleaning at the same time, honest!). I really ought to get therapy. :/


topaz7 at 2007-02-05 23:58 (UTC) ()
"Drive slow your car" "Tro me down the stairs my coat"

I wonder if they say "close the light" too. Or "I am living Woonsocket since now six years". (J'habite Woonsocket depuis maintenant six ans)

French culture has contributed so much to the US, I find it highly ironic that hating the French is a national pastime. All those cities with names like Coeur D'Alene, Belleville, Baton Rouge, Detroit, Eau Claire, etc., etc. VERMONT is a french name ;)

try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-06 00:52 (UTC) ()
I know Italians from RI say "close the light". I thought it was the strangest thing when I first heard it.

I love the French! I guess I did well to pick that other national pastime. *g*
topaz7 at 2007-02-06 01:20 (UTC) ()
I love baseball, too. Except for those accursed Boston Red Sox, of course. *g*

Or is that Bawwwwstin Red Saawwwwx?

try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-06 03:08 (UTC) ()
It's "Bawstin Red Sawks". :P

missapocalyptic at 2007-02-06 00:22 (UTC) ()
*high-fives fellow wikipedia-surfer* We win at life, eh?

I completely lose at recognizing American dialects (When I read about the "Kennedy-accent" for example, I can only say: "Well, he sounds... American to me."), but I love reading about them and would love a source from where I can get a list of English dialect audio tracks...

However, since you seem to be a language geek, too, I've got a link for you: http://www3.germanistik.uni-halle.de/prinz/sprachfamilien/germanisch.htm
The site is completely in German, but you just have have to click around a little to understand how it works. Or maybe your son could help you. However, this site has got a paragraph from "The little prince" read in 100 languages! Among them Old English and Middle High German (naturally, they didn't really get native speakers for those...) And with the side bar on the left side you can jump to other language families. It's BRILLIANT!

*attaches geek button and runs off to listen to the dutch version just. one. more. time.*

try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-06 02:49 (UTC) ()
Yay! *adds to del.icio.us list* I actually can read more German than I can speak, mostly because a lot of German words look like their English counterpart.

The two American English passages they have don't sound that different. Michigan usually has a more distinct accent.

There are a bunch of recordings of different North American accents here. Rhode Island isn't on there. Cape Breton is (get past the reading she does to where she starts to talk. That's the real accent. *loves*) The whole site is very cool.
organist89 at 2007-02-08 07:03 (UTC) ()
I love reading about them and would love a source from where I can get a list of English dialect audio tracks...


Have a ball ;-)
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-08 08:02 (UTC) ()
Woah, this is great! I've saved it to del.icio.us. Yay!
newleaf31 at 2007-02-06 00:30 (UTC) ()
I have nothing intelligent to say, but I did want to let you know that I'm totally geekish enough to have read this post with great relish. But you expected nothing less, right?

It kinda sounds like Rhode Islanders might share accent elements with people from Jersey even more than New Yorkers. In Jersey they'd pronounce it CvreeAAAAAAAnstin -- a little more "r" mixed in with the "v," and weighty on the bleated "aaaaa," with a clipped short "i" at the end instead of the shewa that normal people (read: those of us who are not Jersey natives) would use.

I'm using this icon with the understanding that, in this case, one should replace "even if your voice shakes" with "even if you sound like you're from Jersey."
organist89 at 2007-02-08 07:01 (UTC) ()
Okay, I'm going to go ahead and infer, from how WRONG you are, that you're not from Jersey. :-P

I AM from Jersey.

If it's Cranston we're talking about, it would be "craanstin". I agree with your use of the word "bleat" to describe the "a". Goats bleat. So do we Jerseyites.

But where you're wrong is the "v" thing. No way in hell would you hear a "v" in there with a Jersey accent. It would be "cr", like in Chris or crispy--very quick. The "a" thing though, that's what would give my Jerseyness away to the unsuspecting stranger.

I will say, though, that it's not THAT obscenely drawn-out. Maybe some comedians do it for the laugh-factor...but it's not so terribly blatant. Sure, you can clearly hear the bleat. But it's not like we stop everything and spend 10 seconds going "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa". That's kind of a stereotype.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-08 08:05 (UTC) ()
It's only a minor exaggeration in RI. They really do say Cveeeanstin. Which is why I'll deflect all attempts by the universe to get me to talk like them. *clutches remnants of MA accent*
organist89 at 2007-03-10 10:03 (UTC) ()


Sorry, I wasn't ready to let this die :-)

As time goes on, I'm becoming more and more involved with Wikipedia. I've recently joined their spoken articles project, and I recorded my first article today (not coincidentally it's the ceiling fan article *g*). Note my north Jersey accent.

isiscolo at 2007-02-06 01:06 (UTC) ()
Oh, this is my favorite kind of post EVER. I love language and regional variations and accents and, you know, stuff.

And I have been to Woonsocket! I am trying to remember why. I think I did a triathlon there, or near there, once.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-06 03:13 (UTC) ()
I have never done a trialthlon, in Woonsocket or anywhere else. *looks at lumpy body* Maybe I should consider it.

You're from waay far away from here and you've been to Woonsocket and I haven't. In the smallest state in the US. There is clearly something wrong with this picture.

Also, *points to icon* you have the honour of officially inspiring the first icon I've ever made that I'm actually proud of. Well, you and Stan Rogers, but unfortunately I can't exactly tell him that. *sigh* Go you! *high-fives*
isiscolo at 2007-02-06 03:19 (UTC) ()
I am proud to share a paragraph with Stan Rogers!
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-06 03:33 (UTC) ()
And the Bluenose. Visually, anyway. :)
_divya_ at 2007-02-06 01:56 (UTC) ()
I'm listening to the Dorchester guy right now. <3<3<3<3! This whole post, god, I could spend hours reading about stuff like this. Yay!


Oh, is that what it's called? I always called it, "you know, that thing wheah we don't always say ah ahs?"
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-06 03:33 (UTC) ()
I never knew what it was called, either. Now I can boast about my non-rhoticity, and tease my Canadian friends about their Canadian Raising.
_divya_ at 2007-02-06 22:51 (UTC) ()
I know, Canadian Raising! I love that that's linked from the Boston one, too, because I've been mistaken for Canadian before, and I always thought it was just because Boston shares vowel sounds with a generic Canadian accent (mainly saying O sounds as awwww, not ahhhh), but Raising never occurred to me. ::geeks out::

try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-07 00:25 (UTC) ()
Boston's thicker and flatter than say, Toronto, but the way we say our O sounds is similar. And then there's the Maine accent, which is like Canada and Massachusetts got together and had a baby. It's got the non-rhoticity (and you just KNOW I'm going to use the term to death) AND the Canadian Raising.
peacey at 2007-02-06 23:27 (UTC) ()
Silly Rhode Islander or Massachusets...um, en? Massachusite? Massachussetgander? For the proper pronunciation of everything, come to Michigan. I'll give you a pop and you can hear the language spoken as the English wish they could. All flat and boring.
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-07 00:20 (UTC) ()
It's "ite", I think. I should just go with New Englander. I heart New England as a whole, so much, politically, socially, the whole shebang. We just basically rock. :) For specific state-love, though, it's Massachusetts all the way, accent and all. *loves*

Western MA actually has a flat and boring accent. It's right up there with Connecticut, which IMO has the most boring accent in the country. No offence to people from Connecticut. It's not like it's their fault how they talk. ;)
organist89 at 2007-02-08 06:52 (UTC) ()

Comment, Part 1

Wow, Kelly, I could not have picked a better time to read up on your LJ. This article is amazing. I have always been fascinated by accents. I moved around a lot as a kid, but I spent my first eight years in northern New Jersey (Bergen County, to be exact), and I still have a clearly identifiable north Jersey accent. There are two things about my speech that make it "classic north Jersey"--(1) is that I speak very, very quickly. (2) is that I don't pronounce vowel sounds in the "normal" manner. The sound "or", when it's in a word like orange, Florida, forehead, forest, tomorrow, horrid, or horrible, doesn't come out as "or" like "oar" or "for". It comes out "ar", like in "car", "bar", or "far" (no MA accent on the "r"). So instead of "or-ange", I end up with "ar-ange". I've been compared to a pirate, with the "ar" thing. Also, the short vowel sound "a", like in accent, adapt, cat, etc. comes out very nasally, and with a hint of a "y" attached to the end. I don't really know how else to describe it. Oh, and for all those of you who were wondering, people from Jersey do not call it "Joi-zee". People from Brooklyn, and people from elsewhere who are just plain stupid, do that. I must say that I find those "You might be from _________ if..." lists to be great. I read the north Jersey one the other day. It rocked, because I met virtually every one of the criteria.

All of the info that I've found on the Internet about Jersey accents has been very vague. Most things point out that there is a slight difference between a north Jersey accent and a south Jersey accent..prolly cuz the north is close to New York, and the south is close to Philly.

The thing you pointed out about how RI folks turn -a words into -er words, like "Donna" to "Daahner"...that's not just RI. That's common throughout the northeast. Jersey folks do that too, but not so much the "Daah-" part. We would say it more "Donner", like the reindeer.

If you're ever stuck at HMS for a while, track down Dale Coye. He's Bev's husband. He has a PHd in linguistics, and he's a published author; see here: http://www.amazon.com/Pronouncing-Shakespeares-Words-Dale-Coye/dp/0415941822

As I said, I spent my "accent-forming" years in Jersey. But I've also lived for 2.5 years in New York (the countryside, not the city), and 7 years in eastern Massachusetts. My dad had a weird accent...his dad was a doctor in the army, so he moved everywhere as a kid. His original accent was pretty Texan, but he kind of lost it when he went to Yale. My mom had one parent from Montana, one parent from Oklahoma, and she grew up in New York City. She had a weird way of speaking.

As you may know, I live in Virginia now. There are some interesting accents here, because I'm close to Maryland and West Virginia. One of Virginia's nicest colleges, George Mason University, has done a huge project with accents. They came up with a short paragraph of text, and recorded hundreds of people saying it. The people were of all ages, and from all around the country. They also have a section of folks from other countries, for whom English is not their native language. They have two RI accent recordings; this one is the more prominent of the two (although it's not spectacular):


Check out that website. Some of them are really great. I like one of the ones from Louisiana in particular. They invite people to self-record and send the file in.

organist89 at 2007-02-08 06:52 (UTC) ()

Comment, Part 2


Sadly, accents aren't as big a thing as they were 50 or 100 years ago. Sure, lots of people have a distinct accent, but it's no longer uncommon to hear a person from some place like Mississippi with no trace of a Southern drawl. Due to cities growing larger, and things like the Internet and the telephone linking folks together, and also the mobility that people have now-a-days to pick up and move, accents are becoming more and more dilute. Hence in that archive I just mentioned, there are folks from places like New York and Boston who simply don't have the classic accent. Mrs. Karl, the pottery teacher at HMS, is 85--and she has the classic inland-NH accent. I guess accents are more prevalent amongst older folks. Ike's lived his entire life in RI, and he has no trace of the accent you described in your post.

Technically speaking, EVERYONE has an accent. To us, the Brits have a British accent and we sound normal. To them, they sound normal and we have an American accent. I wonder how that must get confusing for Hugh Laurie when he plays Dr. House. Anyhow, speaking strictly in terms of American accents, most linguists tare the scale using CT. CT has a very mild accent, and it is usually termed "general American". So, many linguists will say that CT has no accent, and then they base everything else off of that. It's odd...they're right. When's the last time you heard someone and said "wow, he/she has such a flamingly strong Connecticut accent"? But what's odd is, CT is in one of the most diverse parts of the country, speaking in terms of accents. RI, MA, NH, ME, NJ, NY, PA...all of those states have a classic accent, many of them more than one.

I don't know whether you watch Family Guy. Seth MacFarlane, the creator, does the voices of Peter and Quagmire and Stewie, amongst others. He also does Brian, but Brian's speech is how Seth actually speaks in day-to-day life. It was interesting, he did the graduation speech at Harvard a year or two ago...the videos are on YouTube. Anyhow, according to Wikipedia, Peter Griffin has a blending of an eastern Mass and Rhode Island accent. Seth grew up in CT, btw.

BTW, I'm moving back to Mass in a few months. I love Mass. It's my home now. It should be renamed from the Bay State to the Unitarian State. They have more UU churches in that one state than we have in my entire district (which encompasses several of the Southern states). According to a letter-to-the-editor written by the owner of the local gun shop last week, MA is the "queer-marrying, butt-pounding, tree-hugging, America-hating, liberal radical" state. W00t!! I always knew there was a reason why the UUA has its headquarters there.

Anyhow, I'm sorry for writing this volumes-long reply to your post. I just obsess a lil' bit about accents :-).

P.S. This gal from Brooklyn...this one ROCKS: http://accent.gmu.edu/searchsaa.php?function=detail&speakerid=121
try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
primroseburrows at 2007-02-08 08:17 (UTC) ()

Re: Comment, Part 2

Everyone is welcome to geek out on my LJ at any time.

Ike's lived his entire life in RI, and he has no trace of the accent you described in your post.

None of my kids do. I've never understood that. But then, his father is from CT, and I don't have a highly discernible accent. Still, they grew up in the RI milieu, so wtf?

But what's odd is, CT is in one of the most diverse parts of the country

Which brings me to my conclusion: What the heck is CT doing in New England? *ships it to the Midwest*

I love The Family Guy. I don't watch broadcast TV, but I catch it on downloads and videos. I'm impressed with the accents, actually. They're very close.

MA is the "queer-marrying, butt-pounding, tree-hugging, America-hating, liberal radical" state. W00t!!

*g* I don't hate America, but I love MA.

Speaking of America, have you ever heard Leonard Cohen's "Democracy"? It reflects exactly how I feel about America: "I love the country but I can't stand the scene". It's fitting that the song I find to be most patriotic was written by someone who is not a US native. Just like Irving Berlin, right?

Leonard Cohen - Democracy

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