Boston accent facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

The Boston accent is a local accent of Eastern New England English. It is spoken specifically in the city of Boston, its suburbs, and much of eastern Massachusetts. Eastern New England English also traditionally includes New Hampshire and Maine. The accent originated with the Puritans who came to the area from East Anglia in the 17th century. It was also influenced by 19th and 20th century immigrants from Ireland. This resulted in the distinct r-dropping (locally called "wicked natural") dialect found in modern costal Massachusetts.

Non-rhoticity

The traditional Boston accent is non-rhotic, particularly in the early 1900s. Recent studies have shown that younger speakers use more of a rhotic accent than older speakers from the Boston region. The Boston accent is pronounced with a “broad A”. The letter "r" is dropped only in certain words like 'car' and 'hard'. For example, a person might “pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd.”

Lexicon

Some words used in the Boston area are:

blinkers
turn signals on a car (also U.K., Australia and New Zealand). The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has displayed signs reminding motorists to "Use Yah Blinkah", a phonetic representation of the phrase as spoken with a Boston accent.
bubbler (or water bubbler)
drinking fountain, pronounced "bubblah". This term is also used in Wisconsin and Australia.
frappe
a beverage mixed with milk and ice cream, a.k.a. milkshake (in most other places), or if in Rhode Island (and especially if coffee flavored), called a "cabinet"
Hoodsie
A small cup of ice cream, the kind that comes with a flat wooden spoon (from HP Hood, the dairy that sells them.) Also (very offensive slang), a teenage girl. Elsewhere occasionally known as a dixie cup.
jimmies
Chocolate ice cream sprinkles Also common in the Philadelphia area.
packie
liquor store (from "package store")
pissah
means something akin to "great" either realistically or sarcastically. Also spelled 'pissa'. This is from the word "pisser" with a Boston accent, but used as an adjective. Occasionally combined with "wicked" to yield "wicked pissah".
rotary
traffic circle. These full-speed circular intersections are common in Greater Boston.
wicked
Generally means "very" or "super" and is used as an adverb. "That hockey game was wicked awesome!" It can also be used to infer tones and moods, for example, "Ugh, that guy is wicked slow."
spa
A convenience store that has tonic on tap and (usually) sells sandwiches.
tonic
soft drink; known elsewhere as soda
whiffle
a crew cut or male haircut done with electric clippers.

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