a question from Russia (New York accent)

Fri Dec 17 20:19:43 UTC 1999

Below is a query from Russia regarding the New York Accent.  The
original was evidently sent to "Occupant, NYU Library."  It was
forwarded to our Russian specialist, who has sent it to me.

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

Date forwarded: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 22:57:52 -0500
Date sent:      Wed, 15 Dec 1999 14:58:08 +0300
Forwarded by:   AQUILA at elmer4.bobst.nyu.edu
From:           NATA ANDREEVA <nata_andreeva at mail.ru>
Subject:        please, help!
Forwarded to:   aquila at elmer7.bobst.nyu.edu
To:             libweb at nyu.edu

Dear colligues,
   I'm awfully sorry to bother you.I'm a third-year student of the Moscow
   State University.I'm interested in phonetics and the subject of my
   research is the New York accent.Unfortunately we have awfully limited
   amount of any information in this area in Moscow.Could you please give me
   a list of people who can help me.
Thank you all the same.

I have already replied to the Russian specialist with:
                the addresses of this list and of the Archive
                references to the book by Allan Hubbell (who once told
me that I was born on one side or the other of the Connecticut River,
but he couldn't tell which side) and to the dissertation by Yakira
Frank, which, as a dissertation is available cheaply on demand,
though whether American-cheap is cheap in Moscow is a good question.

I have checked the Archive myself, but found less than I expected,
and little that seemed useful.  I think I remember more passing
by this past year+ than I found, in fact.  I had searched "new york
accent" and "Brooklyn accent".  Are there better terms?

        There had been a query posted a few weeks ago from someone wanting
audio examples of New York speech.  I gave thought at the time of
posting the following suggestions, but didn't.
                Some months ago I had posted a question as to the value of the
tapes included in Jerry Blunt's books "stage Dialects" and "More
Stage Dialects", but there were no responses.  Are they
authentic and useful for questions such as this?
                A movie shot was in Gravesend (the district of Brooklyn just north
of Coney Island, where I lived from 1972 to about 1992) by local
boys in 1996.  The director/screenwriter was Salvatore Stabile, 21 or
22.  This caused a brief stir, Stabile and the actors headed for
Hollywood, and haven"t been heard from since.  It was released on
video, which has since been remaindered.  This should be a good
source for the speech of young white ethnics.  Actually, for all I
know, the actors could all really be alumni of Groton, putting on New
York accents, but the NY Times says they are genuine cugines from
Avenue U, and they sound authentic to me.  I saw another movie
several years ago being shot in the neighborhood by a local guy,
self-financed, but I have never heard that it was released.
                Richard Feynman, the physicist, was born in Queens, and from what's
said in "You Must Be Joking" was notorious among his colleagues for
retaining his New York accent.  A year or so ago a book and tape was
published called "Feynman's Lost Lecture".  Worth listening to.
                A local radio station broadcasts every morning a stock market
report by an analyst named Larry Wachtel, who's from the Bronx, I
believe, and has been saluted for refusing to cultivate a more
acceptable accent.  He's been mentioned in the Times from the early
70s, and so is presumably past 60.  This is of use only to those
within range of WINS, 1010.
                I attended a concert last month featuring the tenor saxaphonist
Flip Phillips.  He's in his 70s, was born in Brooklyn, and sounds it.
 His name originally was Filippo (given or family?).  I do not know
whether there are recordings of concerts or live broadcasts in which
he would be heard announcing the tunes or bantering with the other

P.S.  I have been experiencing difficulty typing recently, and as a
result typed this with one finger.  If there are more typos than
usual, this is the cause.


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