Friday, May 4, 2007

Accent Agitation

We have some family visiting this week and one such visitor is Frank from Massachusetts. He is as New Englander as they get. Well, there may be some Newer, but not more Englander. I love listening to Frank's accent. Maybe today, I'll ask him to say, "Park your car in the garage," just so I can get a kick out of hearing, "Pawk yer cawh in the gawrawge."

While I may find amusement in Franks accent now, when I spent a summer working at The Lobster Pound off Highway 1, a few miles outside of Camden, Maine, such an accent sometimes caused me grief. It would not have been so bad if Barb, the lead hostess, and Bob, the kitchen manager, were not both employed at the lovely tourist attraction where I had sought summer employment in between college semesters. In any other part of the world, Barb and Bob employees cause no problems for their coworkers. But for an outsider in New England, both names are seemingly pronounced the same: "Bawb".

One day, the owner of this beach side seafood serving establishment told me to take something urgent to "Bawb". I asked, "Is that Bob or Barb?" He repeated with disgust, "I said, Bawb!" I still did not move, and carefully emphasizing the subtle, or not so subtle, differences in the vowels of their names, I again asked for clarification, "As in Barb or Bob?" Not the least bit amused and losing he patience, he shouted, "Take this to Bawb! Now!" A little frightened, I was still honestly clueless as to who I was to go to and insisted, "I could take this to Bob," as I looked toward Bob's office. "Or I could take this to Barb," I continued, looking in the direction of the dining room. As I searched his expressions for some hint of which way I should go, he simply concluded, "Why doncha just take it to Bawb like I asked ya." And then he walked away.

Ah, don't you just love New Englanders?


  1. Hey deb,

    I'm from Western Massachusetts without the accent though. Seems only the Eastern half of the state is funny the way they talk. I have cousins out Boston/Cape Cod way with accented speech. weird.

  2. Chewy,

    You know you're right. Some areas have the most distinct accents, while others - not so much.

    Hopefully you all will keep Massachusetts in tact for Frank. He's probably already itchin' to get back to his harses in the bawhn.

  3. Ha! Come try the coloquial accents in the UK -

    Great post, as ever. Made me smile.

  4. Shrink Wrapped,

    DH spent a couple years in the UK, and we love to have him talk in his cockney English or Queen's English accents. However, he usually saves them for only special occasions. Like when he is eating Bird's Custard in a homemade trifle.

  5. You should of asked him if he meant male or female, lol.

  6. Eve,
    Thank you for pointing out the obvious! At nineteen, I know that sort of logic had completely escaped me at the time.

  7. I love the Bawlmer accent. Which isn't entirely an accent. It's a nice mix of uneducated drawling, southern inflections and northern pronunciations.

    But the way a pure-bred Baltimorean can mangle the "o" sound is either music to the ears, or anathema. If you've never heard it, the best way to describe it is someone trying to say the French word "eau."

  8. In case Bart's vocabulary is beyond you like it was me:

    a-nath-e-ma [uh-nath-uh-muh]-noun, plural -mas.
    1. A person or thing detested or laothed.


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