Tag Archives: park the car in harvard yard

How to Speak with a Bostonian Twang

9 Aug

Copley Square, Back Bay, Boston

Bostonians are known for having a very distinct and unique accent, yet people are always surprised to find out that it’s my hometown when they hear me speak. “You don’t sound like you’re from Boston,” the smug jackass will usually say, as if they are from Boston and can spot the differences. Truth be told, the Boston accent has been greatly sensationalized by Hollywood, and if you just ask any number of my friends from this area, not everyone speaks like Jimmy Fallon or Ben Affleck while acting poorly. Once in a while we may drop an “r” or two, or even add one in unnecessarily, but generally speaking, the thicker the accent, the more of a show someone is putting on. Don’t even mention the Kennedy’s because they have the Kennedy accent, which is from another planet.

I once heard a guy from New Jersey telling me that I wasn’t from Boston because I didn’t speak like he expected me to. Apparently he had a friend from Boston and that made him the Nobel Prize winning scholar on Bostonian linguistics. The nerve. A Boston accent is not forced, and it cannot be faked without everyone from the area immediately seeing it for what it is: a fraud. If you are from Boston and watch a movie with a well-known actor like, oh let’s say Tom Hanks in “Catch Me If You Can” or Kevin Costner in “Thirteen Days,” and listen to them speak, it makes you cringe and laugh at the same time. I have a theory that our unique twang comes from a mix of English and Irish immigrants slowly accepting the harder American accent, but never really giving up their roots. Let those “r’s” roll off, baby. But just don’t do it if you have no idea how.

Still, it’s fun to joke around and mock ourselves and the fake accents we are thought to have. For some reason, a certain phrase has been engrained in the American public’s mind as the quintessential Bostonian phrase. You know the one:

Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd. Translation: Park the car in Harvard Yard.

Well, last week on my way back from the Cape I had to entertain myself somehow, and so I thought of a new and perhaps even more accurate phrase which should hit most of the Boston syllables. Without further adieu:

My fahthah was a pahk rangah in Bahnstable fah fahty-fah yeahs until he retiahed last Decembah. Translation: My father was a park ranger in Barnstable for forty-four years until he retired last December.

Don’t forget, it’s not just in mispronouncing words. It’s also about throwing in “guy” and “dude” a lot. But please note, when using words that start with “d,” put a lot of emphasis on the “d”. “Dude” should really be, “Dood.” For good measure, here are some other common words that you can practice for your next trip up to Beantown:

Hammahd: Hammered

Vodker: Vodka

Retahded: Retarded

Looga-disguy: Look at this guy

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