inessential by Brent Simmons


NYTimes: The Sound of Philadelphia Fades Out.

(Via Daring Fireball. Which I realize means you’ve seen it already.)

When I was growing up (in Newark, DE and south Jersey) I took the accent as a sign of low class and low education. My accent was pretty thin: I sounded more like television. (I was a jerk, in other words.)

But to this day I retain some parts. It’s arnj juice for orange juice, sarry for sorry, and, occasionally, oh-wun for on. (But never wooder for water. I actually got in trouble as a kid for saying wooder.)

One of the things I love about going back east to visit family — all of whom live within about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia — is getting to hear the accent again.

On a recent visit my brother-in-law and I were at a sports bar in Wilmington at happy hour. Guys at the bar were talking fantasy football, and I was enjoying listening to them. Their accents weren’t thick, but they were noticeable to someone who doesn’t live there.

I explained to my brother-in-law that I was listening to the accent and enjoying it.

“I don’t hear it,” he said.

But it’s still there. I can’t tell from my visits if it’s dying out or not: it seems to be alive and well. I don’t hear it much in movies, but then I never did.

I’d miss it like crazy if it disappeared.