Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Greetings from New Jersey: A Tale about Accents and the Famous Fast Food Hot Dog Chain Idiot Chick

It's funny that we don't hear our own accents but know immediately when someone else is not from where we're from. When people meet me they seem to have a clear idea of the region I come from. Do I have an accent?

I didn't think so...

So to make sure I watched this video - How to Have a Jersey Accent. The commentator eased me through the first 3 Jersey accent requirements and I thought to myself See. No one in New Jersey actually talks like this. (If you source me the "Jersey Shore" cast I will fist pump you hard in the throat because of the 9 cast members only 2 were actually FROM New Jersey. I know that because I'm actually from New Jersey.)

But then commentator got to #4. Damn it, 4. He said to pronounce double Ts as double Ds. So instead of "letter" it would be pronounced "ledder." Instead of a crisp "beTTer" it would be pronounced a rougher "beDDer" if you're from NJ. As I did with the first 3 requirements I pronounced the words out loud. Rats! I do say ledder. Who actually perfectly pronounces those as clear Ts, anyway.

Oh well 1 out of 4 isn't bad.

Commentator moved to requirement 5. Double rats! I do this too. I pronounce some Os as AWs. I say Dawg and Chawcolate. Not with as much depth as Sammy Sweetheart but I definitely use a little AW in my O. Hmmm.... maybe that's why my Public Speaking professor knew I was from New Jersey.

But of the 7 requirements Commentator speaks of this is the most important:

In truth I don't mind that people know I'm from Jersey because of the way I talk:
Exhibit A:
(My friend Steve [a fellow NYer I should add] sent me this photo he edited for my birthday. He wasn't wishing the state of Jersey a Happy Birthday.)

I don't mind because usually they're just having fun with it. 

What I do mind is ignorance and bullies and people who use it as a way to single you out or try to make you feel that you are somehow inferior to "their" English.

When my Cuban mother with her Cuban accent says coconut, her O sounds like a 2 foot tall U... short (like in the word cut). It's my favorite word she says. In fact when she pronounces a lot of words in English they sound different because, well, she's Cuban so Spanish is her first language. She didn't even learn English until she was 17. 
Once a long time ago when we were ordering food at a famous fast food hot dog chain, she ordered, "Un hoat dohg."
The girl looked at her and in her adolescent absurdity said, "Whaaaat?"
My mother repeated her order.
The girl stared blankly at her and then repeated her idiotic sounding, "Huh?"
* * *
Angry Rant:
First off, chick, you work at a hot dog chain. What in the f*ck do you think she's ordering? 
Second, please don't assume the "I speak better English" role when the best you've got in your arsenal is Whaaaat or Huh
* * * 

I wanted to intercede immediately but I was so caught off guard by this girl's complete stupidness that I couldn't speak right away. I was processing, trying to understand how she couldn't or wouldn't understand my mother. I had (and have) heard my mother say some things that might not sound like what she wants to say, like Wee-Fee for Wi-Fi, but this was not one of those moments. (And in the context I'm smart enough to deduct what she means.) 
My mother looked at me and as innocently as she could while exuding an equal amount of sauciness asked me, "Am I saying it wrong?"
I looked at the chick behind the counter and snarled, "No, mom. It's very clear that you're ordering un hoat dohg."
"Ooooh. A h-o-t d-o-g." Chick pronounced clearly. 

You're a flaming idiot, famous fast food hot dog chain chick. A flaming, hAWt idiot. Un hoat idiot. Whichever way you can understand it. 

Thanks to In an Opal Hearted Country for organizing the February Expat Blog Challenge opportunity.
Day 19: My accent... whatever this means to you.

1 comment:

  1. My husband who is from England, likes to pretend that his English is superior to mine... because apparently HE invented the language ;) People look at me like that when I'm visiting the in-laws because not only am I from the US but I'm from the south. You know they're all picturing Duck Dynasty and trailer parks. It's shi%%y.


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