FW: Teaching With a Kentucky Accent

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Dec 6 10:43:09 UTC 2002

Joanne D said:

Here's a counter-example:  it's always struck me as funny that the
"Boston accent" seems to enjoy status outside eastern MA.
Whereas I grew up thinking of it as a sort of working-class dialect,
my friends from out of state associate it with the aristocratic
Kennedy clan.  On the other hand, a Latina friend from NYC just
howls at the way Bostonians pronounce "Nomar Garciaparra."
Those Bostonian aristocrats can't roll an "r" to save their lives, it

It would make an interesting paper for an ADS meeting to present evidence of
current attitudes towards various "familiar" regional dialects in America.
Actually, probably a series of papers, then a book collecting them.  Takers?

In my own case, moving to western Massachusetts as I did in 1978 (having
lived prior to that only in the Midwest), I was amazed by the variety of
"accents" in New England.  There are at least two in and around Boston
(Brahmin vs. Kennedy/"Dawchestuh" type), then Rhode Island/SE Mass., then W
Mass., esp. W of the Conn. River (the Great "r-less" Divider; many people
who hail from Mass. and Conn. W of the river sound very much the same as
folks in upstate NY, and much closer to the Midwest "accent" than nearby E
Mass.).  The old Yankees of Maine and NH are also r-less, but with
differences from the folks from around Boston and south.

This has been widely studied and documented, of course, but things have
shifted, and new studies would are needed.  The various accents of NE got
laid down according to settlement patterns, and the fact that wide rivers
(like the Connecticut for much of its lower course) were once very difficult
to cross, so folks tended to live and have families on their own side.  Now
with travel across rivers, across anything really, so easy, the accents are
fading and melding somewhat.

All this is one reason why we will so much miss the likes of Don Lance.  His
updated edition of Kenyon's American Pronunciation is one sort of study that
needs redoing now, aside from something about common attitudes to "accents".

Frank Abate

PS: I always found Bug Bunny very funny, largely because of his Brooklynese.
Then I thought "All in the Family" was very funny, largely too because of
the Queens accents (or attempts at same).  Then I heard real people who
speak this way in NYC; to hear them is still is very striking to me.  So
yes, Jerry Cohen, you DO have an accent!

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