Friday, March 04, 2016

When I listen to movies from the 1930, it seems that everyone speaks with a kind of New York accent...

//New York City English is a remarkable dialect in about a dozen different ways. “If we look around the world for the national standard dialect, most people believe that the national standard is the clearest variety,” says Michael Newman, a linguist at Queens College and the author of New York City English. “But that's not the case; it's based on the most prestigious speakers. In France, upper-class Parisian is the norm. In England, it's upper-class London and the northern areas.”

Given that, the standard American dialect should be New York; newscasters in Ohio should be trying to sound like Bernie Sanders. But of course they aren’t. Standard American English dialect is “vaguely Midwestern-sounding,” says Newman. It wasn’t always this way. The old New York accent, sported by FDR, among others, was well on its way to becoming the national standard. This accent, now basically extinct, has hardly anything in common with the modern New York accent. The old accent is often referenced by one strange transition: the “er” sound became “oy,” so New Yorkers could talk about the corner of Thoity-Thoid Street and Thoid Avenue.//

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