Saturday, July 11, 2015

We do speak a little differently

Some people around the country think we are a little different up around here. We certainly speak a little differently. A local supermarket chain is called Star Market. Around here you will probably here it pronounced Stah Mahket. Yes sometimes r's are just non existent. Probably old English influence. Some of the cities and towns names get mangled by out of towners and that's perfectly understandable. Gloucester, and English city name as well, is pronounced glawster. Worcester is pronounced wusster. You don't drive a car. you drive a cah. There are times when I don't understand it myself and I was born and raised here. Once my sisters friend said, "Do you want to go down to the connahbah?"
We all looked at each other and asked, "What's a connahbah?" It of course was, the corner bar. Not that we all hang around in bars. There are no bars in my particular city but you can get drinks in the restaurants of which we have quite a few since they put up a hotel about 10 years ago. It's convenient for out of towners who are headed to Boston but don't want to pay Boston prices. Boston is a wonderful city but it is the 3rd or 4th most expensive city in the country. But I digress.

Some of our phraseology can be a bit strange. If something is really great it can be described as "wicked awesome". Wicked is a very popular adverb. If somebody says they are going to Cape Cod you know they aren't from around here. We just say "the Cape". We don't drink water from a drinking fountain, we drink it from a "bubbler"

We have two kinds of bowling. Regular ten pin with the large bowling balls the we have candle pin where the ball is about the size of a soft ball. It is more difficult as both the ball and the pins are smaller and you get an extra roll of the ball. Why? I don't know.
If you want sprinkles on your ice cream you have to ask for "jimmies". there are many theories as to why they are called such so there really isn't a definitive answer. Some say it dates back to some company in New York, our mortal enemies in sports, some say Pennsylvania. In any event we still call them such and nobody really knows why.

If you want a milkshake, in every place else, you will ice cream and milk whipped into a froth. Here if you order a milkshake you'll get milk and some kind of flavored syrup. If you want ice cream and milk you have to order a frappe. The "e" is silent. That's a French word meaning to strike, slap or hit. How that became to mean milk and ice cream whipped into a froth I don't know. I have yet to find the real reason we call it that either. 

If you are driving and have to take a sharp left, you don't say, "Take a sharp left." you say, "Bang a left." Similarly if you are making a u-turn you say, "Bang a Uee (you-ee)." Why? I don't know. Ever since I went to Florida in 1976, I became aware of how different we sound compared to everybody else in the country. Up until then I had been to Italy twice, but they speak Italian, as if you didn't know, so our English meant nothing over there. I went to the hotel desk clerk and said a few words and he said, "You're from Boston, right?" How did he know?

I have spent the rest of the years trying to rid myself of the accent but every once in a while I find myself saying things like, "Oh, I left that in the cah.". We apparently have different uses for the letter "r". We stick them on the ends of words that end with an "A", as President Kennedy used to say "Cuber" when referring to Cuba.

One more thing, if you are thirsty and go into a store looking for a soda, you will be looking for a tonic. I'm sure there is a reason for this but I haven't researched it.

People around the country can laugh at the way we speak, though not everybody talks that way. It is unique but then again they instantly know where you came from. Massachusetts and Boston can be a punching bag for a lot of people in the country for our extremely liberal views on things. I don't agree with all of them but there is no denying all the things that started here. From the seeds of revolution, medical anesthesia, the industrial revolution, education and so on. It's quite a resume and few states can match it. So despite all the things wrong, and there are many, from the antiquated street layout of downtown, "Big Dig" or not, to our odd way of speaking, this is my home and I love it.

Below is a link to a National Geographic program on the "Big Dig". It's a bit over an hour long with unfortunately, commercials. I don't expect many of you to watch it, on the other hand it is really fascinating to see all the problems they faced digging a tunnel under the harbor and the city  and another one from the airport to the city. Tearing down the old elevated highway that cut the city in half and was a real eyesore. And then constructing the Zakim Bridge. There's still a ton of traffic and it still gets bogged down for Boston is a small, densely populated big city but what went on for approximately 20 years period really changed the look of the city. Our friend Beth always commented to me, either on a blog or email, how she was fascinated by all this and how she loved the new bridge. I know she would watch this. When Arlene and I travel to go to Martha's Vineyard we use much of this new construction as we go over the bridge then into the tunnel under the city emerging on the other side of Boston on our way south to where we catch the ferry. We are heading down once again in September, our favorite time of the year to go. The weather is quite nice and most of the tourists are gone.

So I thank you for reading this rather long winded, top of the head blog entry. I sometimes start a blog never knowing what I will say. 

I'm outta here.   



  1. Boston Boy, I love that you say cah...I like that we have accents and different words for things. I used to say pop, then started saying soda(for Pop) my daughters tease me by saying Soda like my neighbor lady use to speak , with a Minnesota accent. LOL. Those darn kids. , Love them to pieces. How long has that big dig been going on??? When we toured there it was happening and that was several years ago. Blessings to you and your sweet friend Arlene, xoxo,Susie

  2. Does Ahlene pahk the cah in the pahk or the gahhage or the yahd so her dog won't bahk? Are you drawring a pitchah for me? Do you like Pepperidge Fahm bread? Have I captshad your attention? I've always been mixed up about these: grinders, hoagies, subs, po'boys and spuckies. What ah they in your native language?

  3. I know very well the U-ee for u-turn. Yah youse folks do talk funny like yah hey we don't here onnahconnah we knows english. (onnaconna-on the count of) I like jimmies.