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How to Talk (I Mean “Tawlk”) Like a New Yorker Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 in English Language

In yesterday’s post I presented a video on how to take a cab in New York City.  In writing that post I started to think about the New York City accent and so today I’m going to give you some pointers on how to pronounce this accent, but hopefully these pointers will also help you to better understand this accent.  Below is a video that takes a look at the New Yorker accent.  (Note: This is a great video about accents in general as the redheaded woman in the video has a very distinct Australian accent and the woman with short curly hair has a clear American accent and both are practicing a New Yorker accent.  Even if you can’t make the different sound discussed, see if you can hear the differences in these accents.)

First of all, if you have ever heard English in movies or TV shows, I bet you have heard a New Yorker accent before.  Some famous people in TV and movies with New York accents include:

  • the character Joey from the TV series Friends
  • characters in The Sopranos TV series
  • characters in the Seinfeld TV series
  • the actor Woody Allen
  • the actress Rosie O’Donnell
  • (other examples are given in the video below)

Tips on how to talk like a New Yorker:

1. In a New York accent, the “r” at the end of a word is almost never pronounced. The “g” at the end of -ing isn’t pronounced either. So “doing” is pronounced “doin'” and “here” sounds like “hea”.  The “th” (the /θ/ consent sound) sounds something between the “d” and the “th” sounds (but more like “d”).

2. Many of the words that have the “o” sound, like in coffee, are pronounced with an “aw” sound instead.  The word dog, for example, sounds like “dawg”, and “coffee” would turn to “cawffee”.  That “o” sound is pretty much not used by New Yorkers.

3. Indirect questions are often used.  The word order of a question is often preserved in an indirect way, at least with questions that used wh-words, for example a New Yorker might say: “He wanted to know when will he come?” instead of “He wanted to know when he will come?“; or, “She asked why don’t you want any?” instead of the standard “She asked why you don’t want any?”

Okay well, that is a start on working on your New York accent.  This video should give you some more accent lessons to help you to work on either producing or understand the New Yorker accent.

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About the Author:Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.

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