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This is part of a multi-part reflection I've been doing following the death of my friend, Mark Baumer . There's nothing graphic i...

Delco Style

Future anthropologists of the internet will wonder why a blog devoted to transportation in Rhode Island talks so damned much about Philadelphia, but I guess we'll just have to leave them scratching heads.

Saw this, and needed to comment:

I went to the same high school as Tina Fey, and even wrote the continuation of the same column in the school newspaper she wrote, so I feel like I've got some Delco street cred to dish out.

I've watched a couple of these performances she's done, and she gets parts of the accent right, but I'm also surprised at the parts it seems like she drops.

The big joke in this bit was the ferry/furry merger, and the long O in the Philly accent. These are parts of the Philly accent that swing towards the South. Other aspects of the accent that overlap with New York seemed to be absent from her portrayal. 

I wonder what this says about how we perceive ourselves through others? Fey spends a lot of time in New York, where big pieces of the Philly accent are going to remain completely unnoticed by people around her: cawfee, byead, Mary, marry, merry (although a real Philly resident would say, "Murray Christmas." Like Bill Murray).

It's also interesting to see how the Philly accent has become something worthy of comment on television. Typical portrayals of Philly in the past often picked New York actors to play roles: Sylvester Stallone as Rocky says "Yo, youse wanna' go home" whereas a real South Philly resident would have said "Yeow, yuzz wanna' geow heowme?" 

Providence is a city that also bridges two more well-represented accents (Boston and New York) and I wonder if television and movie portrayals of Rhode Island have the same shortcomings.

Alls I ken say is, why are some myead and byead and glyeahd and sad? I deown't kneow, geow eahsk yer dad. Deown't eahsk Saturdee Noight Live theowgh. They deown't kneow.


  1. Yes, this actually seemed more Central PA than most takes on a Philly accent. I'm really annoyed that I can't find a good example on YouTube of the south central PA accent a lot of my relatives have. It is a bonkers combination of Maryland, Pittsburgh and Tina Fey's Philly.

  2. Yeah, it's odd how hard it has been until recently to even find a Philly recording, given that it's so well studied by linguists. Hollywood does not really interest iyself with accents much. Like, have you ever noticed that criminals and cops almost always have Nee York accents? Even in Ohio, or Los Angeles. It's very odd.