Friday, November 19, 2010

Tawk Like Me

The Times has a good article this morning on the New York accent and how some people are ashamed of it and try to shed it:
N.Y. / Region
Unlearning to Tawk Like a New Yorker
Published: November 19, 2010
After being mocked or criticized as unintelligible, some New Yorkers have turned to speech therapists to reduce or eliminate their distinctive accents.
Being a Lawng Islandah myself, I usually like my accent, even when others sometimes kid me about it. But I also notice when I am meeting people for work who are not from the City I sometimes automatically make an extra attempt to curve my R's a bit more (or remember to use them altogether!)

Also, when I hear others speaking with the same accent, I have to admit I sometimes immediately draw conclusions about them - did they ever spend a significant amount of time away from the New York area, like go away to college?  (Some of my accent was softened by my years living in other states and also living abroad.)

But this article describes what I think is a sad attempt by some New Yorkers to force themselves to completely get rid of their accents for work-related reasons. Boy, I don't like that idea. How you speak is part of who you are. And I always believe that it's what kind of a person you are inside and in your mind that matters,  how you treat others in your life, and whether you try to do your part to make this world that we all share a better place that matters, not how you appear or how you sound.

And besides, why would you want to throw this away? From the article:
"The New York accent is a distinctive amalgam of Irish, German, Yiddish and Italian — now infused with black and Hispanic dialects and a Caribbean lilt — that was identified at least as far back as the early 19th century."
 In other words, we New Yawkers are walking parts of history.  We should treasure that, not be ashamed of it.

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