I’m an east central New Jerseyan and this is how I speak

Soft drink names by county

Many places (regions, cities) in the United States have distinctive vocabulary and pronunciation of the American English language. My hubby says that is even the case of Czech within Bohemia in his relatively small native country of Czech Republic. I really enjoy studying the English language and exploring differences in dialects. Today, I thought I’d present a post about some vocabulary and pronunciation specific to my home town in east central New Jersey. My English is slightly influenced by the proximity to Philadelphia and its characteristic dialect.  Some central New Jerseyans living closer to New York City may be more influenced by its colorful vernacular.

Central New Jersey being a place of many different cultures and nationalities, one can find a variety of influences on the local dialect.  Note that the vocabulary and pronunciation I use is based on my parents’ usage. Both of my parents and several generations before them resided in or very near my hometown. For that reason, I consider the examples I will give as typical of my hometown.

Below is a recorded sample. Listen carefully. After the recording ends I’ll describe some characteristics and words that I know are unique to my hometown area.

Today I went to the grocery store and grabbed a cart. I then thought to myself “What am I going to get for lunch?” Maybe a hoagie, a soda, and some chips. That’s what we’re going to need for the trip down the shore today. I put it in the trunk, and went home. At home, I put it in the fridge because we kind of need to wait until noon to leave.

Special vocabulary to note:

  • Cart – As in “shopping cart”, also referred to as a “carriage” or “buggy” in other parts of the country or “trolley” in the UK
  • Hoagie – A Philadelphia term for a long roll sandwich. Also called “hero”, “sub”, “grinder”, “submarine sandwich”, or “Italian” in other parts of the country
  • Soda – Also called “pop” or even “coke” (even if it’s not Coca Cola) in other parts of the country
  • Chips – Refers to “potato chips” as opposed to “crisps” in other countries.
  • Shore or Down the shore – The “beach” or going “to the beach”
  • Trunk – Called “boot” in British English
  • Fridge – Short for “refrigerator”. Used to be called “ice box” in the past.

East central NJ pronunciation characteristics to note:

  • Today sounds like “tuday” as in “up”
  • Went seems to neglect the “nt” at the end and, instead forms a short nasal sound
  • a within the middle of the word sounds like “uh”
  • Cart seems to neglect the “t” at the end, and instead forms an almost long “arrrr” sound
  • Thought neglects the “t” at the end (See a pattern of neglecting “t” at the end?)
  • To does not include an “ew” sound for the “o”. Instead it sounds like “uh”
  • What sounds like an incomplete “ut” sound with the “t” barely vocalized (Yes, still no “t” sound).
  • Going to could just as well be spelled “gonna”
  • Get (barely a “t” sound, just ends with a slight “uh”)
  • For sounds like the word “fur” as in cat fur
  • Trip just barely includes the “p” sound
  • Put it barely has the “t” sound in either word
  • Went ends rather in a nasal sound instead of a fully pronounced “t” sound
  • At the “A” is like in the name “Addison” but is slightly elongated with the “t” silent
  • Home (Note: My husband teases me about my pronunciation of this word. I guess the long “o” and “m” are exaggeratedly long sounding.)
  • Put it or put (No comment. I guess it sounds kind of ugly. It’s hard to explain.)
  • kind of (sounds like “kinda”, just like should of sounds like “shoulda” or would have is like “woulda”)
  • because sounds like “becuz” with the “cuz” sounding like my pronunciation of “cousin”
  • wait ends in an almost throaty sound ignoring the traditional “t” sound

Are there any glaring differences in words or pronunciations used in different parts of your state or country? Please do share.


24 thoughts on “I’m an east central New Jerseyan and this is how I speak

  1. bexoxo June 20, 2017 / 7:15 pm

    Looks and sounds normal to me! I was born and raised in Virginia. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 20, 2017 / 7:18 pm

      Hi bexoxo. Do you not pronounce the “t”s at the end of words?

      I think Virginia is close enough to the Mid Atlantic that we do have a lot of similarities. That, or the differences are subtle. I definitely don’t have a southern accent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bexoxo June 20, 2017 / 7:25 pm

        Nope! Not if I’m talking normally. If I’m giving a presentation, then I’m more aware of my speaking so I annunciation more, but I also grew up in the country so I have a country accent at times. It really shines through when I’m mad or super excited. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 20, 2017 / 7:32 pm

        I guess we can all pull out the “news man/woman” speak when we need to.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. bipolarsojourner June 20, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    well, after a little research, say these word pairs:

    “caught” vs. “cot”
    “don” vs. “dawn”
    “collar” vs. “caller”.

    if in saying these word pairs, they sound the same, you might have a pacific northwest accent.


    • updownflight June 20, 2017 / 9:42 pm

      LOL! No, I pronounced them differently. I guess I don’t have a pacific northwest accent. Thanks for giving these cool examples, bipolarsojourner!


      • bipolarsojourner June 20, 2017 / 9:49 pm

        how could any english speaking pronounce those word pairs differently. hehe

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 20, 2017 / 10:02 pm

        I don’t know, bipolarsojourner. When I try to pronounce those “t”s fully at the ends of words it sounds pretty strange, too.


      • bipolarsojourner June 20, 2017 / 10:09 pm

        i thought the tale-tell of of a new york-new jersey accent were the drawled a’s.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 20, 2017 / 10:25 pm

        Hmm? I don’t know. I don’t think I have drawled a’s. I know Boston, Mass folk do. They don’t pronounce the “r”s at the end of words. I think when they say “park the car” it’s sort of like “paaaak the caaaa”. Of course that’s just the really typical Bostonians. Just like in the NJ that’s a melting pot so people don’t all sound the same.


  3. Nel June 20, 2017 / 10:04 pm

    You sound normal to me. Only thing is nobody says soda in Ohio it’s always pop which you mentioned. And shore sounded like sure to me, lol. Another word that’s pronounced differently, I’ve noticed with people here, is water and measure. Some ppl say war-ter or watah and then for measure, some people pronounce it mee-sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 20, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      Thanks for the great examples of Ohio speak. Many people in my parts pronounce water like “wooder”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 20, 2017 / 10:26 pm

      I can’t figure out Donald Duck, but I am 100% sure Bugs Bunny’s accent was that of a blend of Bronx and Brooklyn, NY.


  4. Jessica Bakkers June 21, 2017 / 9:46 am

    Hahaha! As an Aussie who’s heard a lot of different American dialects on tv this was great to read! I love the Boston accent best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nosaintaugustine June 21, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    This was fun! I am from this general region as well but my mother is a speech and language pathologist so she kept me from having a strong accent. I believe the missing “t” is a result of a “glottal stop”, like we just cut it out, no t’s needed thank you very much. My husband lovingly calls our regional accent “Hoagiemouth.” haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 21, 2017 / 1:49 pm

      Oh I love that term “Hoagiemouth”. Never heard of it, but will start to use it. Thank you for commenting on this. It’s good to know that the missing “t” is from a “glottal stop”. I wouldn’t have known this.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lauren June 27, 2017 / 1:39 pm

    I’m from North Jersey so I needed no translation (though I would never say hoagie). I teach English as a Second Language and it’s made me more aware of my accent. I try to be mindful to not always “properly” enunciate when that is not how I normally talk (or how most English speakers in this area sound). Definitely influenced by the New York accent in this area of New Jersey.


    • updownflight June 27, 2017 / 1:55 pm

      Hi Lauren. Thank you for commenting. Yes, I grew up closer to Philly than New York City, so we do say “hoagie” in our area.

      I, too, taught ESL when I was much younger. I taught kids in Taiwan, and adults in Poland. I’ll admit that I did enunciate when I taught the kids. I knew they wanted “proper” pronunciation. The assistant teachers, who were Taiwanese, would have been surprised if I spoke in any other way. However, when I taught conversational English in Poland, I spoke freely. They already had a good base English instruction, so I felt that letting them hear other pronunciations was fine.


      • Lauren June 27, 2017 / 3:59 pm

        I’m teaching English here in the U.S. so students notice the different pronunciations. I’ve found that often people who learned English abroad are surprised that Americans speak such “bad” English.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 27, 2017 / 4:10 pm

        I know you’re right about that. At least my native born Czech husband tells me that. Even though English is his second language I often use him as an editor for things I write.


  7. Sally November 28, 2017 / 7:06 pm

    Sorry I am only just reading this post. I love language and pronunciation too, although everybody here is American to me as I can’t tell one part of the country from another. I live in Texas and people comment on the Texan drawl. I don’t hear it at all. I do notice they say y’all though, and when I first arrived here from London and somebody said that to me in a store (shop) I looked around to see who else they thought I was with.

    I have noticed that ‘t’ hardly exists in America. For example – ‘inerview’ and ‘inernet’. Doctor is usually pronounced ‘dacter’. What I do find ‘ineresting’ is that I have now noticed that I speak a different kind of English altogether. It seems to come from only a small area of southwest London, not even in other parts of England. I always use the ‘a’ like a long drawn out ‘aaaah’ like when the doctor says open your mouth and say ‘aaah’. Also emphasis is put on the last syllable here rather than the first.

    Then of course there are endearments like ‘darlin” in parts of north England, ‘biddie’ in Scotland and even, wait for it, ‘hen’ in Cornwall. But they have a language all their own anyway.

    Glaswegians say things like ‘greetin wanes’ (can’t spell it) for ‘crying babies and ‘blether’ for talking, Go figure.

    Good article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight November 28, 2017 / 7:28 pm

      Sally, that was so fun learning a bit about language features from various parts of the UK. Thanks for sharing them!

      In my part of NJ we don’t omit the “t” sound from the beginning or middle of sentences, just mostly at the end. “T” at or torwards the beginning of sentences sounds like “t”, but in the middle it often sounds like “d”. Like “interesting” said as “interesding”.


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