Can We Tawk?

I’ve lived in several places: grew up in New Jersey in the metro-New York City area, went to college 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia and one grad school in Philly, another grad school in the Midwest and (shuddering), now for most of my life, Western New York.

Note I did not say “upstate” New York. As, apparently, that means any place except the five boroughs. In you-know-where.

Each location is memorable for many things, not the least of which is the “accent” used by the indigenous peoples.

By “accent,” I mean a speaking voice different from my own. Which, as is widely known, is the criterion by which all others are judged.

Sad to say, the Midwestern accent is as flat as is the terrain. Among broadcasting-types, it is the preferred accent. Because it is undistinguishable, which is to say geographically unplaceable.

Philadelphia has its long “Oh.” Ooooooooh. While in the City of Brotherly Love, one listens to the ray-dee-oh, often while sipping a Coe-kuh.

And the southern girls, with the way they . . . A couple more lines and I could have a hit record. (Once I learn how to sing. And harmonize.)

Seriously, in the South the writing instrument named “Pen” is pronounced “Pin.” Y’all. Unless you’re from Texas, where it’s “You-All.”

In Rochester, people choose to speak through their nose instead of their mouth. (Makes one wonder about the breathing and eating process. are they reversed, too?) The “A” sound is practically unending. And, for some words, where no “a” is present, such words are pronounced as though it were “aaaahhhhhaaa.” Raaaah-chester, for instance.

In New York City, everything gets spoken as though it were part of an argument. The part where the other person is letting you know exactly how wrong and misguided you are. In the harshest possible way. George Costanza, or worse, his parents, on steroids.

Since New Yorkers know everything, and the rest of the world is a collection of nimrods, an aggressive assertiveness is required.

Seriously, New Yawkahs are pretty easy targets. At least when it comes to accents. I remembah, while in college, that it seemed everyone going to school in Lawrenceville, NJ was from Long-uh Guyland.

New Yorkers squawk.

The few from New Jersey without pitch-perfect accents (me, for instance), speak in a cadence and with a sound much like a Meow.

“Let’s meet at the mawl and have cawfee.”

Not long ago I met with a New Jersey native whom I’d not seen in 25-plus years. (Hard to say they’re a “friend” after a quarter century without them.)

I thought my ears were going to bleed.

How’d I ever listen to that voice, I wondered.

The title for the present entry was made famous by the consummate New Yorker, Joan Rivers. A real piece of work. (And the title of a very funny 2010 film about her; as though there could be an un-funny film about her.)

So, just in case I’ve offended someone, Grow up! Fughetaaboutit.

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