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Researchers track evolution of Philly's odd accent
Southern or Northern?
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2013/05/01
3:01pm
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Researchers track evolution of Philly’s odd accent with electronic recording and analysis. I thought you might like to know.

2013/05/02
12:10am
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tromboniator
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Thanks, Emmett. Fascinating.

2013/05/02
4:29am
Raffee
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Really interesting!

(I wasn’t much familiar with the Philly’s accent and so, I didn’t get ‘Gid eowt’. Then I asked the meaning on Ask.com, and someone answered with a link to the same article. 😀 But I had already worked it out)

2013/05/02
5:38am
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RobertB
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This lady says to bring the corners of the mouth way forward, and do the ‘l’ close to the throat. And turn vowel into diphthong- that’s how ‘out’ comes out eeouwt. Nice.

2013/05/02
7:46am
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Glenn
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OK. I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I moved away during my high-school years and lost or reduced much of my local accent due to peer pressure. I haven’t lived in Philadelphia for nearly 40 years.

This women gets the vowels right. It is impressive.

One thing that she does not address about the Philadelphia accent in the video is Philadelphia’s extreme palatalization of consonants before y-glides and in some other contexts.

Some palatalization occurs in most dialects of English before y-glides or r (e.g. all of the “-tion” and “-sion” endings are palatalized; injun as representation of vernacular indian; truck is pronounced to a greater or lesser degree as chruck, and drug as jrug). Still, this palatalization is more pronounced in Philadelphia than in most places.

A great example of this palatalization is the old saw for linguists regarding Philadelphia’s accent. It is not an exaggeration: “jeet jet?” really is a good approximation of saying “did you eat yet” when speaking quickly and informally in the vernacular. (Actually, jeet chet is better.) A slightly less reduced variant might be “jewy chet?” (juewwee chet) Even speaking slowly and carefully, a Philadelphian would say Dihjew eachet? (dijuewweechet?)

I still listen to the Philadelphia local news on frequent occasion. One morning traffic reporter says “mash chransit” (mash chranzit) for “mass transit.” The palatalization effect of the r keeps traveling back through the t all the way into the previous word and its final s!

Even though I haven’t lived in Philadelphia for nearly 40 years, when I hear mash chransit, I feel all warm inside.

2013/05/02
10:44am
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Glenn
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Here’s the guy on video. Sorry (none sorrier than me) that he doesn’t say “mass transit” in this video. But you can hear him say “straight shot” and “folks trying.”
Philly’s Bob Kelly palatalizes

“Straight shot” as shchraet shaat is around 37 seconds into the video
“folks trying” as foeksh chrieyin is around 44 seconds into the video

2013/05/02
9:21pm
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RobertB
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He clearly works the 2nd word into the 1st. He preloads things of the 2nd word ready even as the 1st word is running.
2013/05/03
12:20am
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Glenn said

OK. I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I moved away during my high-school years and lost or reduced much of my local accent due to peer pressure. I haven’t lived in Philadelphia for nearly 40 years.

Glenn,

What do you think your comment/experience here says about the article’s claim, “Regional dialects are cemented by adolescence…”? Could this be a flaw in their study?

Emmett

2013/05/03
5:14am
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Glenn
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Hm. Maybe I was a late bloomer?

I’m not sure what they mean. I doubt that studies of second language acquisition apply to regional dialects and pronunciation of your native language. Some studies on second language acquisition show that second language acquisition takes longer after the onset of puberty. And even those findings are being slightly modified and refined.

But “cemented” is a very strong word. That sentence, if taken literally, suggests that dialects are even more resistant to change than language acquisition by the start of adolescence. I doubt that is true at all. Anyone who hangs out around any teenager can hear clearly that their language is very flexible during adolescence, since social pressures are at their very greatest during that period. Both syntax and pronunciation changes can be and are readily affected, then assimilated.

So perhaps this is merely a case of careless writing. I find it more credible that regional dialects are durable by adulthood.

Having said that, I still do have some modified traces of the Philadelphia accent in my speech. Mad does not rhyme with sad, but my mad is much less heightened than with full-blown Phillylalia. The vowel in her is not as low as it used to be, but is probably lower than most. As a result, my ferry no longer rhymes with furry, but is probably not as high as some, and also doesn’t rhyme with fairy: it falls between. Murry, merry, marry, Mary are all different for me, with the vowel rising as you read left to right, whereas with Phillylalia, the first two are totally indistinguishable.

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