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.