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

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 22 03:14:30 UTC 2007

G, your pronunciations for "chocolate" and "coffee" match those of my
buddy, Phil Schwartz, a sixty-ish native of Brooklyn. Not a surprise,


On 5/21/07, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at UMR.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Hockey---(NYC pronunciation of "chocolate")
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
> <snip>
> =20
> 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.
> =20
> 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."
> =20
> 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."
> =20
> This was my first serious experience with dialectology.
> =20
> Gerald Cohen
> =20
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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