Sunday, January 08, 2006

That Boston accent

In 1985,I was 22 years old and living in Israel. The first thing I did was to change the way I spoke. There were a few reasons for this.

#1)I spoke really fast...too fast actually for anyone who didn't speak English as their first language to understand me. In addition to the Israeli people that I lived with,I also lived with people from Denmark,Germany and Sweden. Even though my friends from England spoke English,they didn't understand my speedy babble of American English. I learned to speak slowly and so that I would be understood.

#2)As an American, born on the east coast,I had a lot of filler words that didn't make sense to other people. The word "like" was sprinkled like salt into almost every sentence. "So,like,I went to the mall and like it was so like crowded....."
If you don't live here,you'll wonder what the heck that was all about. For those that do live here,you are like probably just nodding your head and asking yourself,"So,like,what is the problem with that?"

The expression,"so's I goes" was translated as "so,I said." To "go" never meant to travel anywhere and this was very confusing in conversation. I eliminated that right off the bat.

#3) I learned to pronounced the letter "R" at the end of words and in the middle of words and to say the letter "T" instead of "D." This was no easy task but I put my mind to it.

Cah became car.
Pahk became park.
Sweddah became sweater.
Yahd became yard.
Padayda became potato.

With these changes,people began to understand me and a normal conversation did not require a translation.

When I came home two years later,my family was confused by my speech.My mom looked at me one day with a puzzled expression on her face and asked,"Why are you talking so slowly? Can't you speed it up?"
Over the years I have added some speed to my speech. I do slip up every now and then with pronunciation by swallowing my "R's" but I do my best to try to speak clearly.

That being said,the other morning I had to laugh as I listened to Rich talk to Lillianna as he packed her lunch for school.

"I packed you a peanut buddah and fluff sandwich,a bag of Smahtfood,a juice and a boddle of waddah."

What can you do? We're Bostonians after all!

What kind of accent do you have?

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