Two from Cowan.

JC sent me links to “a silly NYC dialect article” (Matt Troutman at Patch, “Schlep, Schmear, We’re Walkin’ Here: NYC Wants To Preserve Its Tawk”: “Sixty percent of New Yorkers surveyed said they want New York’s dialect, phrases and slang protected by law, the poll found”) and “a silly US-state dialect quiz” (Shaun Connell: “Take our quiz and test your knowledge of different state dialects”; I got 8/10, mostly from good luck). Enjoy!


  1. As a native Delawarean, I’ll throw in that I’ve never heard of either the Delaware or Maryland dialect examples.

  2. I also got 8/10, mostly by luck, but 3 of those (“give me some sugar”, “being ugly”, and “fixin’ to”) are in pretty widespread use as far as I’m concerned, or at least are widely understood.

  3. J.W. Brewer says

    As another native Delawarean, I entirely concur with Craig. Could conceivably be a generational thing for the Del. example (since I have raised my kids outside Del. so they are not reliable sources of younger-generation regionalisms) although the Md. example feels less likely to be young-people slang.

  4. J.W. Brewer says

    Apparently the Writing Tips Institute has conducted a similar poll with similar results among Maryland residents. Now, I’m not saying that the Writing Tips Institute is a bot controlled by a 15-year-old in North Macedonia or perhaps Moldova who is getting random credulous local news websites to recycle press releases. But I’m not saying it isn’t.

  5. I’ve been in Maryland for over thirty years, plus several years in DC, and have never heard chicken-neckers used as that quiz says. I have heard it used to mean someone crabbing with a line baited with a chicken neck (heads are better if you can find them), but I’m not sure whether that was here or on the east end of Long Island.

  6. Third native Delawarean. “Baggin’ up” was current when I was in high school, but I haven’t heard it in years. Feels like Y2K era slang. I never realized it was a regionalism.

  7. Hey JW,

    We ran a survey across every state, actually. It was expensive but really interesting.

  8. What’s with the “tawk”? Do Americans outside NY not rhyme “talk” with “hawk”? Is there some sort of THOUGHT-split going on here?

  9. J.W. Brewer says

    I appreciate the update from Dusty re the timing/cohort of the Delawarean slang: I was at least 15 years out of high school (and no longer living in Del.) when worrying about Y2K became a thing so I take it we are of different generations.

    @rosie: I think most Americans rhyme talk and hawk, but there’s a stereotypically-NYC version of the THOUGHT vowel that the eye-dialect is presumably trying to evoke. For a Canadian attempt to approximate that stereotyped vowel, see Mike Myers’ “Linda Richman” character on “Coffee Talk” sketches on old Saturday Night Live episodes, some of which should be floating around youtube etc.

  10. I think most Americans rhyme talk and hawk, but there’s a stereotypically-NYC version of the THOUGHT vowel that the eye-dialect is presumably trying to evoke.

    Indeed, we both tawk the tawk and wawk the wawk (and discuss Pale Male, our resident red-tailed hawk) with the same vowel, but it’s raised. In THOUGHT words like these it is approximately [ɔ̝], and in NORTH=FORCE words it is outright [o]: [no˞ θ], [fo˞ s]. This raising is not confined to NYC, but includes Northern New Jersey, where I was born and raised.

  11. Walk the dog over to the mall and get some mothballs at the hardware store.

    (Especially if you’re non-rhotic.)

  12. David Eddyshaw says

    Nobody actually needs vowel quality distinctions, as those clever Canaanite miners in Sinai who invented the alphabet (for writing graffiti) knew very well. (To say nothing of the Egyptians.)

    They’re just ornamental.

  13. F y cn rd ths y cn grg mxbl qd.

  14. David Eddyshaw says

    Thanks, JC! Garaging a mixable equid has always been one of my favourite things!

  15. “Ach! I fell into your evil trap!” —David Eddyshaw

    Grammatically, though, it needs to be either “a mxbl qd” or “mxbl qds”. If there are only vowels in the word, the first one is retained.

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