Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

More on New York City dialect

Posted by thuicc on December 21, 2006

There’s a nice Wikipedia article on “New York dialect” that has a section on pronunciation. It also discusses the social and ethnic factors that contribute to New York dialect. It also mentions (as of this date) the topic that Levonar was asking about last week regarding education and/or social class as ways of “removing” accent. The article says (again, as of this date):

Nevertheless, not even all European American New Yorkers use this variety. Upper-middle class European American New Yorkers and suburban residents from educated backgrounds often speak with less conspicuous accents; in particular, many, though hardly all, use rhotic pronunciations instead of the less prestigious non-rhotic pronunciations while maintaining some less stigmatized features such as the low back chain shift and the short a split ….

Similarly, the children of professional white migrants from other parts of the US frequently do not have many New York dialect features, and as these two populations come to dominate the southern half of Manhattan and neighboring parts of Brooklyn, the dialect is retreating from their neighborhoods. Many teens attending expensive private prep schools are barely linguistically recognizable as New Yorkers. Nevertheless, many New Yorkers, particularly those of Southern and Eastern European descent from the middle- and working-class, retain varying degrees of what has been coined New Yorkese or Brooklynese within their daily speech.

There’s also a link to the homepage of the alt.usage.english newsgroup, which contains an audio archive of people with different accents reading texts. There are samples of a New Yorker reading “Arthur the Rat” and “I teach Ferdinand the calm cat to fetch cold cups of coffee. Who knows more about tasting things? He’s used the book.

(I should add that the discussion page on the Wikipedia article is pretty interesting, too…)

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