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Speak English

by David Sturtz

Read an article in the New York Times on the pronunciation of Italian words in New York and New Jersey and went off on a tangent. Found a “guide to Philadelphia English” from the City Paper. Also a more technical discussion of the Philadelphia Dialect.

I also discovered a very interesting Harvard dialect survey with maps of the results. Among the more divisive terms are the well-know differences in the word for a “sweetened carbonated beverage”, the “paper container used to bring home items you bought at the store”, and the pronunciation of “Florida”.

As a transplanted Iowan I’ve picked up “soda”, was previously unaware of the bag/sack dilemma, and have made a conscious attempt to crack myself up by routinely saying “Flah-rida” (and “hah-rrible”). To communicate clearly I try to remember to say “tahl” for towel and “tohr” for tour. I’ve also discovered my Iowa accent, saying “ruhf” for roof and “ruht” for root. I know what people mean when they say they have to “tap MAC”, and I try to remember that here you “call out” sick, rather than calling in. So much to remember…

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