Fixing wooder

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"Mio Liquid Water Enhancer Taps Into the Philadelphian Accent with 'We Fix Wooder'", Creative News 7/5/2021:

With the HBO hit 'Mare of Eastown' bringing a ton of national attention to the Philadelphian (or “Philly”) accent, most notable in the series was the pronunciation of the word “water”.

So, for this year’s Independence Day, Mio Liquid Water Enhancer (part of the KraftHeinz Company) wants to celebrate the freedom to pronounce water as “wooder” just as Philly’s do – in the birthplace of liberty, Philadelphia nonetheless.

Mio’s brand promise is 'We fix Waterr', but now, it will be 'We Fix Wooder'.

All copy for this campaign is written in true “Philly speak”, to celebrate all things Philadelphia and “wooder”, from the front the Schuylkill River, to hoagies, to “the Shore”, to the use of the multi-functional word “jawn”.

I don't normally read advertising journals, but I looked up "We fix wooder" because of seeing this billboard around Philly:

Apparently this ad runs on local media:

I'm not convinced that the voice-over is dialectologically authentic, but I'll report back after asking some natives.

Of course this evokes the much-better-known SNL "Murder Durder" skit (where the pronunciation of the wooder vowel is even less authentic):



  1. Es said,

    July 19, 2021 @ 7:01 pm

    Doesn’t sound authentic.

  2. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 19, 2021 @ 7:35 pm

    Somebody got paid to write that piece in Creative News?

    I used to know a little something about Philly, but I don't know what "the front the Schuylkill River" should have been.

    "Creative", I assume, refers to the people who come up with new ideas for advertising. I'm reminded of the time somebody in my then-employer's marketing department was giving a presentation that included a simple calculation, maybe something like a percent increase. "They say creative people can't do math," she quipped, as if she thought nothing creative had ever been done in math or the mathematical sciences. I didn't say anything, and I'm over it now.

  3. Justin Hilyard said,

    July 19, 2021 @ 8:41 pm

    @Jerry Friedman: I'm a mathematician and I don't know why you'd have been bothered by that even in the immediate aftermath. It was the kind of light joke someone makes at their own expense during any presentation to keep the mood light, who cares. I'd probably have given a polite chuckle with the rest of the audience and forgotten it was said after a couple hours.

    It's like actually having a sincerely held opinion on pi vs. tau, or letting the pure/applied rivalry get under your skin. :P

  4. J.W. Brewer said,

    July 19, 2021 @ 9:04 pm

    The GOAT-fronting in the "we fix wooder" ad seems pretty good, but something seems off about the pronunciation of "Conshohocken." Although to be fair I've been away from the Delaware Valley so long now that my sense that that was neither the "normal/outsider" pronunciation nor a real "local/dialect" pronunciation may be unreliable.

    See this clip from early in the pandemic from an internet personality using the nom de plume "Delco Donna" for perhaps another example of a Philly-area accent that seems to sort of come and go, drifting a bit in and out of focus in a way that suggests it may not actually be the speaker's native one.

  5. john burke said,

    July 19, 2021 @ 11:52 pm

    Sort of connected: I wish I could revisit that SNL parody of an unintelligible Brit movie trailer, with the beautiful exchange between the guy who delivers a passionate but incomprehensible speech and his anxious wife who says "But what if you're wrong?" with (of course) a glottal stop on "what."

  6. David Morris said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 7:18 am

    I wouldn't recognise wooder or durdur from their written forms, but had no problem with the spoken forms, possibly because I had more context by the time I got there.

    Water and daughter are perfect rhymes for me (with THOUGHT + non-rhotic er), but wooder and durdur aren't.

  7. Scott P. said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 8:39 am

    Sort of connected: I wish I could revisit that SNL parody of an unintelligible Brit movie trailer, with the beautiful exchange between the guy who delivers a passionate but incomprehensible speech and his anxious wife who says "But what if you're wrong?" with (of course) a glottal stop on "what."

    Is this what you are thinking of?

  8. rpsms said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 9:23 am

    It sounds like someone perhaps from Delaware or New York who is familiar, studied even, but unauthentic. It has just as much to do with *what* is said as how it is said, and the whole phrase leading up to "Conshohocken" was awkward. In Philly, they sometimes sound like they are sucking on rocks while talking, this guy sounded like he fell *over* some rocks,

    The billboard is also wrong: advertisers like jawn because it is interchangeable for different parts of speech, but again, the accent is only part of it. If the sign said "Squeeze this in your jawn." It would draw a lot less attention to the obvious anthopological interests of the ad writers.

  9. Richard Hershberger said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 9:33 am

    I can't speak to the accent, as I only lived in Philly a few years and had limited contact with the socio-economic class that spoke stereotypically Philly English. But I do know that the SNL writers missed the boat when one character handed a bottle of beer to another and called it a "Yuengling," however pronounced. It is a "lager" (rhymes with "swagger"). Yes, there are other lagers available. But the unmodified word is understood to refer to Yuengling.

  10. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 12:12 pm

    Justin Hilyard: If she'd said "They say marketing people can't do math," or the same with "PR people", I'd have reacted the way you said you would. (I didn't say so above, but her department included PR as well as marketing. I don't remember what her exact position was.) Of course she was just carelessly using a jargon word that had a meaning to outsiders that she probably didn't intend, but she was supposed to be an expert in communicating without sending unintended messages.

    I don't see the comparison to having a strong opinion on pi versus tau or pure versus applied, or in my field, maybe whether there's such a thing as centrifugal force. It's as if she'd said "They say creative people can't carry a tune" or "can't draw".

    By the way, I agree that there's an element of the remark that's at her expense, but I see it as more than half bragging.

  11. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 1:46 pm

    I have heard the Philadelphia pronunciation of “water,” but spelling it as “wooder” bothers me. I think this is because the double-o represents a longer vowel than the one used in the the local “water” pronunciation.

    I thought the Mio advertisement had a lot more “youse” occurrences than I heard in the speech of the Philadelphians I heard who used the “wooder” variant for water. Part of the problem is that the script was written to highlight particular Philly-isms, and the writer apparently crammed them in for effect.

  12. Jerry Packard said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 4:25 pm

    Good old fluff-ya accent.

  13. AntC said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 4:39 pm

    Mio Liquid Water Enhancer

    Huh? I thought this might be a piece about liquid water vs non-liquid water.

    "Add a squeeze to transform your water into a reflection of your crazy, amazing lifestyle." says the blurb.

    So I parse it as 'Mio Liquid' — water enhancer(?) The water in Philly/the U.S. is undrinkable without it(?) In many parts of the world the water from the taps is unsafe to drink, or too chemical-tasting; people buy bottled water. In NZ where I am, the tap water is (usually) delicious.

    water enhancer? Never heard of it before.

  14. Terry K. said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 5:44 pm

    MiO (Yes, properly with a capital O) is a company. They make water enhancers. Water enhancers come on liquid or powder form, so the the specification that MiO is a liquid. I think water enhancers are basically beverage mixes for mixing in a bottle of water.

    So (MiO [liquid {water enhancer}]).

  15. Terry K. said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 5:48 pm

    in liquid or powder form…
    (typo correction)

  16. AntC said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 6:21 pm

    Thanks @Terry, so "water enhancer" is a thing? I'd never heard of it.

    If MiO bring their stuff to the cricket-playing nations, they'll need to revamp their advertising.

    "enhancer" has wholly negative vibes for something to ingest. "flavouring enhancer" typically appears in very fine print on lists of ingredients, and is usually sneaking MSG into over-processed foods.

  17. cameron said,

    July 20, 2021 @ 6:55 pm

    So, someone's actually brought a powdered water product to market ("Just add water!")?

  18. Richard Hershberger said,

    July 21, 2021 @ 8:26 am

    @cameron: There are many powdered water products on the market. Kool-Aid is a classic example.

  19. Rose Eneri said,

    July 22, 2021 @ 12:23 pm

    Native Philly girl here. Would it really be so hard to hire an actual Philly native to voice these ads?

    IMHO, the accents on Mare of Eastown were pretty bad and very inconsistent.

    I agree with others that the transcription for Philly "water" is ambiguous. It would be better represented by wood-er.

  20. john burke said,

    July 23, 2021 @ 1:09 am

    Scott P.: Yes! Thank you. This is a trimmed version, though–there were a lot more unintelligible shouts in the one I remember and "But what if you're wrong?" really tied it in a bow.

  21. Martin said,

    July 24, 2021 @ 4:02 pm

    Did I hear right that Delco Donna pronounced Pennsylvania without /l/ ("Pennsivania")? Does that pronunciation occur in any Pennsylvania topolect?

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