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The Rhode Island Accent


runawayjim

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What is a New Haven accent? Most Connecticut folks speak just like TV news anchors.

From what I've heard, Joe D' had a huge following back in the day in the Italian community which spawned the local Spankees base. But I'm Irish and I love that dirty water, so.....

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I figured it just went along with RI Italians sounding like they are coming from Long Island.

Seriously, how the hell did the Fran Drescher Nanny accent skip over all of Eastern LI and Connecticut, all of southern RI, and just make a direct connection to Cranston.

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I think the RI accent is slightly closer to a NYC/LI/urban CT accent than a Boston one despite the fact that we're closer to Boston.

Maybe this has to do with immigration patterns. Now there are a lot of people who live in PVD who came here by way of NYC particularly people of Domican background who came here from Washington Heights and other neighborhoods in New York. Maybe the same was true 100 years ago.

In any case, as a RI'er I am more aware of the Boston accent when I hear it than the NY accent. What do other people think?

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I think the RI accent is slightly closer to a NYC/LI/urban CT accent than a Boston one despite the fact that we're closer to Boston.

Maybe this has to do with immigration patterns. Now there are a lot of people who live in PVD who came here by way of NYC particularly people of Domican background who came here from Washington Heights and other neighborhoods in New York. Maybe the same was true 100 years ago.

In any case, as a RI'er I am more aware of the Boston accent when I hear it than the NY accent. What do other people think?

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The RI accent is the New York accent with a little variation. New Yorkers don't pronounce R's either, they just do it in a slightly different way. RI has that "awww" thing that the New York accent has and Boston does not at all.

I lived with all kinds of New Yorkers when I was at school, and everyone thought I was from Brooklyn. A few words always set me apart though, like "watch" and "wallet". I would say "wautch" and "wawllet" whereas they would say "wotch" and "wollet." I never understood why we sound like them either.

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The RI accent is the New York accent with a little variation. New Yorkers don't pronounce R's either, they just do it in a slightly different way. RI has that "awww" thing that the New York accent has and Boston does not at all.

I lived with all kinds of New Yorkers when I was at school, and everyone thought I was from Brooklyn. A few words always set me apart though, like "watch" and "wallet". I would say "wautch" and "wawllet" whereas they would say "wotch" and "wollet." I never understood why we sound like them either.

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I'm extremely conscious of my accent when in professional conversation and try hard to water it down. I think the RI accent is a cross between the 2 cities but I can always tell the difference. Something about it for me just sounds trashy. Maybe it has to do with the fact that a lot of RI'ers unknowingly replace their r's with v's. I'm not sure where that comes from but I've heard people say " Chevul instead of Cheryl, extva extva in the drive thru @ D&D." That is one of thee most annoying things that I hear in public.
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i've heard about the R pronounced as V (a guy i work with always jokes about cvanston, also calls the accent rhoder rican). the way jerry made it sound, it seems as if that aspect of it definitely comes from NY. it sounds similar to some of the strong accents from people in east haven, CT.

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Well, I have now lived in 5 cities/states (RI, CT, NY, AZ, FL) - her's my take:

Providence (not RI) accent is very close to a NYC accent.

Boston is a northern NE accent not in any way related to Providence's.

CT is as has been described --- none-- and that is what identifies it.

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i've never noticed a NH or VT accent (although up north near canada in VT, you get a slight canadian accent). in ME, the more downeast you get (farther up the coast), the more it sounds like a southern accent. people talk slower like in the south. but boston's accent seems to be limited to greater boston and then out towards worcester.
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The only similarity between the Southern accent and the Mainer accent is in the speed (and even that is debatable). I can't think of any other commonality. FYI, I'm a born Southerner who lived there many years before moving here just a few years ago.
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for someone who talks like a fast southern new englander with a new haven accent, the downeast maine accent is very similar to the southern accent. the only difference i noticed is that certain words aren't drawn out, like "y'alllllll".
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  • 2 months later...

Through peer pressure, I think, college knocked the accent out of me. Now, when I try to emulate it, I sound like I'm from some Brooklyn/NYC mobster movie. My family is all French Canadian from Woonsocket, Manville, and Blackstone. They've got the twisted grammar down pat (Throw me down the stairs my shoes). I still like that a lot. The accent makes me nostalgic, and I wish I didn't completely lose it... but i sound like a goomba when I try to get t back.

I love the way such a small state has so many accents... the Woonsocket accent vs. the Cranston vs. the Johnston vs. the Newport vs. the Eastern Shore... the Canadian, Italian, Portuguese, etc... all pretty fascinating.

And it's more than just the accent, it's also what people choose to say. Start listening in a people's conversations sometimes... it's great. You think the conversation may go one way due to what one person says, and then the other person takes it in a different direction because of that classic RIer way of thinking about things... it's hard to describe it. I'll have to make a recording of my family get-togethers to explain the phenomenon.

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  • 11 months later...

I moved out west when I was a kid. I was teased mercilessly about my RI accent, so I got rid of it almost immediately.

For a long time I thought it was an ugly accent and that it sounded low-class. But I like it now. It's home. And it saddens me that regional accents are disappearing.

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