Rhode Island Public Radio has a six-minute interview with “Brown University and Trinity Rep.’s master of dialects Thom Jones” about how people speak in various parts of Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island, ending with the infamous Cranston accent (in which “Cranston” sounds like “Cvanston”). Unfortunately, Jones talks about language in an entirely impressionistic way, using incomprehensible terms like “round” as if they meant something clear and obvious, but it’s still fun to hear him imitate the various dialects. Thanks, Sven!
Unrelated, but does anyone know what happened to Gilliland? I mean, what happened is clear enough—if you go there, there’s a notice “This journal has been deleted. All posts in this journal will be permanently deleted from the server 30 days after the account owner deleted it”—but I’m curious why such a dependably good read was suddenly axed.


  1. “Page cannot be crawled or displayed due to robots.txt.”

  2. Sigh. I love how the man writes, but he has the silliest hissy fits about how he hates the commentators because they’re bydlo that don’t appreciate him once a month or so. I think this is the second or the third time he deletes his LJ.
    Meanwhile, he’s still prolifically posting in Facebook:

  3. The last post was:
    Значит так. Пока я тут окончательно не свернул деятельность, перебравшись на ФБ. Кстати:
    Это, вот это – мой личный дневник. В сочетании этих слов нет ничего сложного. Не нужно мне рассказывать, как и что мне надо делать и, тем более, не делать. Это всё вокруг – поле моего личного опыта и эксперимента. Это не ваша читальня, не ваша богадельня, не кабинет вашего лечащего врача. Я ведь совсем не планирую обслуживать ваши запросы, оправдывать ваши ожидания, соответствовать вашим планкам, рамкам или что там у вас. Надеюсь, что те, кому это персонально адресовано, найдут себе дело интересное, поучат своих родственников, надоумят жён, снабдят рекомендациями друзей. Шуршите в своих интереснейших дневниках – столько гороскопов ещё не до конца опубликовано, столько перепостов ждут вас, толпясь и подпрыгивая, у вас непочатый край – идите на этот край.

  4. Sigh. I love how the man writes, but he has the silliest hissy fits about how he hates the commentators because they’re bydlo that don’t appreciate him once a month or so. I think this is the second or the third time he deletes his LJ.
    Sigh indeed.
    Meanwhile, he’s still prolifically posting in Facebook
    Good to know! And thanks for the explanation.

  5. British speech is non-rhotic
    Yeah, tell that to dearie. What’s going on? It’s the third time I’ve heard it in two days.

  6. I love new England accents

  7. All the most civilised accents of Brrritish speech arrre rrrhotic.

  8. About to move to Boston, a friend reports hearing two women in Boston talking. They keep repeating PSDS, PSDS. She finally, politely, interrupts to ask,
    “What is PSDS?”
    They tug their earlobes, “Pie-st’d eee-aahhhs”
    Pierced Ears.

  9. Dearieme: The best in other ways, too. I was listening to a gentleman from Bridgestow (they spell it Bridgestow but pronounce it Bristol; foreigners always spell better than they pronounce) on the TV last night, in a program that was otherwise lost in a forest of RP accents. And though his accent wasn’t down home, the vowels being just too centralized for that, it was certainly a great comfort (like that blessed word Mesopotamia) to someone who felt temporarily exiled from his native shores, if only virtually so.

  10. Would anyone in Rhode Island say “I saw her in the flippin’> elevator.”? I suspect the NPR interviewer bowdlerized that. “Frickin” I could buy, but not “flippin”.
    I’ll have to listen more carefully next time I’m in Boston, but I don’t hear the strongly articulated glottal stops in “didn’t” or “shouldn’t” the way Thom Jones produces them – I always thought that was a Connecticut thing.

  11. Not sure of the problem with “flippin'”. Is it the word “flippin'” itself not used, or is it just too genteel for the context? I know Australian men who would use “flippin'”, but, of course, that’s not Rhode Island, so maybe irrelevant.

  12. Flippin’ is un-Amurrican, according to my sensitive native Sprachgefühl.

  13. I’m with you on “flippin'”, John.
    There are many variants of the Boston accent. In one of them the city of Newton is called something like “Noo-in”, with a big glottal stop to kick off the second syllable.

  14. Or maybe when i hear people say Noo-in they’re actually from Connecticut. What do I know?

  15. Now I try to keep an ear out for some of the subtler, more overlooked aspects of dialectal difference in English. I was just watching a video in which Gordon Ramsay visits a seafood place on the South Shore of Massachusetts, and it struck me that this woman sounds like she’s from around here, so to speak, when she says “You don’t look impressed” – even though that phrase contains none of the diagnostics you’d associate with an eastern Massachusetts accent. Now this might just be confirmation bias, since I already knew she was from around here – but as I think over Boston-ish accents in my mind, it seems to me that one of their subtler characteristics might be the use of cardinal rather than mid [ɛ] in DRESS. Coincidentally, this would yield the same pairing of true [ɛ] with central [aː] that commonly occurs in the North of England.

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