If These Knishes Could Talk.

Last night my wife and I watched If These Knishes Could Talk: Story of the New York Accent, on YouTube here. It’s pretty scattershot, and some of the choices of accompanying music are… odd, but it’s a lot of fun (especially, of course, if you’re NYC-adjacent), and I learned some things, for instance that not only is there a “New York accent” in ASL, but it has a special slang term for Harlem. I chuckled at Pete Hamill’s favorite El Diario headline, SERRANO DICE: YO NO SOY UN SCHMUCK. Oh, and the title is from a line of dialogue in a knish shop: “If these knishes could talk, they’d have a Brooklyn accent.”


  1. What knish shop is that?

  2. John Cowan says

    It’s the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, on the south side of Houston St. and the east side of Chrystie St. (the southward extension of Second Avenue). About five minutes’ walk from my house.

  3. Ah. I have been there, about a hundred times less than I would like to. But why Brooklyn then?

  4. Andrej Bjelaković says

    As Labov et al. 2006 put it:

    The stereotype Brooklynese is used to refer to working-class New York City speech, whether the speaker is a resident of Brooklyn, Queens, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, or Jersey City. Many members of the public are convinced that they can recognize a Queens or Bronx or Jersey accent, but it appears that these geographic labels are in fact labels for perceived social class differences

  5. Featuring, mostly from 48:48 but scattered throughout, my PhD advisor 🙂

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