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Thread: New York dialect..

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW stitchingirl's Avatar
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    New York dialect..

    Is there a site that one could go to look up terms used in particular areas? For instance, I live in Ohio. So, here we say "pop". I know other areas call it "soda", or even call it "Coke". Then when asked for it, they ask which one? Coke, Sprite, etc.

    I know New Yorkers just say they had a slice rather than saying they went to a pizzeria and had a couple slices of pizza. If I went to NYC, I would so stand out like a sore thumb.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    There's a dialect quiz here, with extensive maps you can review. However, while I do think the pop/soda thing is a thing, stuff like slice/slice of pizza isn't really, in my experience. I've said 'piece of pizza,' 'slices of pizza,' 'want to get pizza?' The hoagie/sub splits are more specific. Like most people say they're taking the train, but if someone said they were taking the subway home I wouldn't think they were from Nebraska or anything.

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    This American English Dialect Map has a lot of information & links attached, some of which may be helpful for you.

    It's worth keeping in mind that "New Yorkers" is a category that includes a huge number of people who came there from other places more or less recently, including (as a random example) from Ohio. And that the old-fashioned New Yawk dialect you hear in the old movies is not quite as dead as the subway token but it's getting there fast.

    Aside from taking care with the big obvious things (in New York people say soda, not pop, and New Yorkers always stand ON line, not IN line) probably the best way to make sure you get the dialect right is the same as with any other type of location-specific detail -- once you've finished a draft, get someone who knows the local detail to beta the draft & point out the bits you got wrong.

  4. #4
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    New Yorkers, in my experience, don't say "Long Island," they say "lon giland." Anything west of the Hudson River is the wild west.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbenberi View Post
    This American English Dialect Map has a lot of information & links attached, some of which may be helpful for you.

    It's worth keeping in mind that "New Yorkers" is a category that includes a huge number of people who came there from other places more or less recently, including (as a random example) from Ohio. And that the old-fashioned New Yawk dialect you hear in the old movies is not quite as dead as the subway token but it's getting there fast.

    Aside from taking care with the big obvious things (in New York people say soda, not pop, and New Yorkers always stand ON line, not IN line) probably the best way to make sure you get the dialect right is the same as with any other type of location-specific detail -- once you've finished a draft, get someone who knows the local detail to beta the draft & point out the bits you got wrong.
    I've never heard that before? I've heard 'in line' plenty -- it's weird now trying to think about it, but I'd say they're fairly interchangeable?

  6. #6
    Twitching ap123's Avatar
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    Lifelong NYer here, I wouldn't have a sub or a hoagie, I'd have a hero.

    Some of this is variable depending on borough, neighborhood, time period/age of characters.

    My grandfather said things like "flush the terlet," or "change the erl in the car" but I never did. Drives my husband (raised in Manhattan, I was raised in Bklyn) when I "shut/open the light," instead of "turn it on/off." I do stand on line, but wouldn't notice someone saying in line. When ordering pizza for delivery, I might ask for a pie, maybe even a plain pie, but not a cheese pie, bc to me that would indicate extra cheese. I do say not for nothing but...

    Specific questions?
    Doing the backstroke in the beer moat.

    Try it, you might like it. Blogging life in the big city with Mrs Fringe.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW snafu1056's Avatar
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    A funny fact about that whole "terlet" thing, it's called an over-correction. Back when New Yorkers still pronounced "er" words with "oi" ("boid" instead of bird, etc.), many people (especially new immigrants) looked at other people pronouncing the words the right way and just assumed all "oi" words were a mistake, so they ended up replacing "oi" with "er" even in words where "oi" belonged. Hence "terlet." But yeah, that's ancient history now. No one under 80 talks like that anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by stitchingirl View Post
    If I went to NYC, I would so stand out like a sore thumb.
    Not so much anymore, especially in Manhattan, which is packed with tourists and transplants from other places. And further out you have new immigrant groups moving in with their own languages. The old "Bugs Bunny" type New Yorker is fading away. Though they do still exist in both New York and New Jersey (the Sopranos was set in New Jersey but that's pretty much a New York Italian dialect everyone uses).
    Last edited by snafu1056; 06-18-2017 at 09:40 AM.

  8. #8
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    My husband's family is from Manhattan. For the longest time I found it odd that they spoke of "standing on line" when I had only ever heard it as "standing in line."

  9. #9
    Twitching ap123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu1056 View Post
    Not so much anymore, especially in Manhattan, which is packed with tourists and transplants from other places. And further out you have new immigrant groups moving in with their own languages. The old "Bugs Bunny" type New Yorker is fading away. Though they do still exist in both New York and New Jersey (the Sopranos was set in New Jersey but that's pretty much a New York Italian dialect everyone uses).
    That's been true in most of Manhattan for my lifetime. Certain neighborhoods you'll find a distinct accent rooted in a blend of "New York"/Spanish accent.

    It's funny, but there were words used in everyday life when I was a kid in Bklyn that I thought were English slang, but were actually bastardized Italian or Yiddish.
    Doing the backstroke in the beer moat.

    Try it, you might like it. Blogging life in the big city with Mrs Fringe.

  10. #10
    Benefactor Member WeaselFire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ap123 View Post
    Some of this is variable depending on borough, neighborhood, time period/age of characters.
    This. And about half of New York City residents, and surrounding areas, grew up there. The other half wouldn't necessarily know or use dialects common to the area. Keep in mind that dialect isn't accent, which differs in almost in every borough.

    NYC is so familiar with out of towners that whatever is said gets acted on, if you order a soda or a pop, nobody will bat an eye. Especially since half the vendors only speak Urdu fluently (which may have changed again in the last week...). There are areas where this differs, but outsiders in those areas often face bigger problems than language bias.

    The absolute best newcomers to NYC I have ever seen are those trying to speak like New Yorker. Nobody gets it right, which is true of everywhere else in the world as well. But I did used to get asked what flavor ice cream I wanted in my soda out in South Dakota.

    Jeff (Whose accent and dialect reek of sarcastic with no geographical tones...)

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW stitchingirl's Avatar
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    That did make me laugh..."flush the terlet". For some reason, I just pictured Archie Bunker yelling that: "Flush the terlet, huh?" God, I loved that show. I didn't know New Yorkers say "stand ON line" instead of "stand IN line". If I ever would ever visit, that would sound weird to me, too.

    Thank you for the map. No doubt that'll come very much in handy.

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