Philly accent

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"An earful of that unmistakable Philly accent", CBS This Morning 7/26/2016:

Featuring Meredith Tamminga!


  1. jhh said,

    July 26, 2016 @ 10:55 am

    Is this a part of the Northern Cities Vowel Shift? The vowel they talked about in "mad" sounds like it…

  2. Jarek Weckwerth said,

    July 26, 2016 @ 11:46 am

    No, it isn't :(

    The raised TRAP vowel sounds similar to what you get in NCS but it only occurs in an arbitrary set of words (as mentioned in the video), not across the board. (So you can understand it as a phonemic split.) And the other parts of the shift are missing.

    Thanks to the work of Labov, Philadelphia is probably one of the (if not the) best-described accent of English. It's quite easy to find discussions online.

  3. jhh said,

    July 26, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

    Many thanks! :)

  4. Victor Mair said,

    July 26, 2016 @ 8:14 pm

    From June Teufel Dreyer:

    Phila accent: a couple of decades ago, a linguistics professor identified at least eight different Philadelphia accents, depending on what neighborhood one visited. In Brooklyn, we made fun of people from the Greenpoint area, who were reputed to see “Greenpernt.” It is also easy, or at least was easy when I lived there, to distinguish an Irish Brooklyn accent from a Jewish or Italian Brooklyn accents. Blacks had no Brooklyn, or N’Yawk accents at all, with Charlie Rangel an unusual exception. Of course N’Yawkers don’t see themselves as having any accent at all; it’s others who have outtatown accents, some of them stwrawng.

  5. David Marjanović said,

    July 27, 2016 @ 4:58 am


    Sanders consistently renders /str/ as [ʃtɻ], even across word boundaries.

  6. David Marjanović said,

    July 27, 2016 @ 5:02 am

    Sorry, the ʃ is unexpectedly badly visible in this font.

  7. The Philadelphianist said,

    July 27, 2016 @ 1:53 pm

    I'd be interested to know if there's been any research done on the selective non-rhoticity Rocca mentions at the end of the piece. I don't think I've seen this mentioned in any of the popular or academic literature on the Philly accent.

    I don't really know what Rocca's talking about with the word "corner," but as a Philly area native (whose own speech still has pretty much all of the major features of the accent despite a four year degree and a couple years in grad school), I know anecdotally that some Philly locals do drop /r/ intervocalically in certain words. The most salient example that comes to mind is the /r/ in "Swarthmore," which most locals (including myself) pronounce as "Swahthmore," with the first vowel the same as in "father." Another is the /r/ in "parlor," pronounced "pahlor." I still refer to the place where you get pizza as a "pizza pahlor."

  8. Lazar said,

    July 27, 2016 @ 3:27 pm

    @Jarek Weckwerth: Notoriously underrepresented in media, though – many people imagine that Philadelphians just sound vaguely like New Yorkers. It never had anything like the boom of (real) NYC accents during the New Hollywood era, or the boom of (fake) ENE accents during the Gritty Boston Crime Movie era.

  9. The Philadelphianist said,

    July 27, 2016 @ 4:02 pm

    @Lazar, I think that dearth of media exposure for the Philly accent also might contribute to intelligibility problems with other speakers of English, both inside and out of the US.

    In the past, I've worked with a number of people from various parts of the world, and almost all of them seem to have been equal parts fascinated and baffled by my accent; "Where are you from, again?" was a common question when first meeting someone.

    Once an English colleague asked the whereabouts of another coworker, and I replied "Oh, he's out in his car." He stared at me blankly for a moment, and then admitted that he had no idea what I had just said. That was a first for me.

  10. Rod Johnson said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 4:29 pm

    What do they mean by "the nation's first program to study the science of language?

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