Hockey---(NYC pronunciation of "chocolate")

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon May 21 21:22:08 UTC 2007

From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Paul Johnston
Sent: Mon 5/21/2007 2:40 PM
Subject: Re: Hockey

It is the CAUGHT vowel in "coffee" in Brooklyn, and indeed,
throughout the whole NY/NJ area.  A person asking for a cup of
"cahfee" is definitely from someplace outside the Metro region.
I had experience with this in 1958, but with the word "chocolate."  Born and raised in NYC I went to Tampa, Florida to attend a baseball camp right after high school (I was athletic in those days). We played ball in the morning and evening, but it was too hot to play in the afternoon, so we went to the beach then.
One day at the beach I was telling two other boys sitting near me a story and without thinking anything of it mentioned the word "chocolate."  One of the boys interrupted me in amazement. "What did you say?" "What do you mean, what did I say?"  "That word, you just said."  "You mean chocolate?" (which with my heavy New York accent sounds like "chawklitt").  "Yes, that's it!!", whereupon he immediately called several other players over who were sitting on blankets nearby, and I had to repeat my pronunciation of "chocolate."
I felt a mixture of self-consciousness and amusement at this fuss, because I had previously said "chocolate" hundreds if not thousands of times, and no one ever thought anything of.  But I was now speaking with boys from the Midwest and South, and evidently they had never spoken with anyone from NYC before.  I asked my astounded friend how *he* would pronounce "chocolate," and he regarded this question as one of the silliest he had ever heard.  He replied--still in amazement--"Why, it's CHAHKlitt." Now it was my turn to be amazed.  I said CHAHKlitt? (with a  nice long first vowel).  My father has a delicatessen, and if I asked one of the clerks for some CHAHKlitt (I often picked up a Hershey bar there), he'd think I was trying to be funny."
This was my first serious experience with dialectology.
Gerald Cohen

The American Dialect Society -

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