Blog Excerpts

That Iconic Boston Accent

The "Today Show" visited Boston on Friday, and as part of the show they included a segment on the accent of the city, so immediately recognizable and so often imitated (but rarely well!). And who did they turn to for background on how the accent came to be? Our very own Ben Zimmer.

Here's the segment, with Matt Lauer reporting on the distinctive Boston accent, followed by the anchors trying to master it:

If you're interested in learning more about the roots of the Boston accent, check out Ben Zimmer's Boston Globe column, "A Pahticulah Way of Talking."


Rate this article:

Click here to read more articles from Blog Excerpts.

Join the conversation

Comments from our users:

Monday February 18th 2013, 7:59 AM
Comment by: Alexander C. (Germany)
Really? Is Boston accent really that worth of special mention? Aside from the special words like bubbler (I liked that one), the only difference between that bloke's NY accent and Bostonian was that Bostonian seems to be a little less rhotic. And the pizza's intrusive r, which is nothing special; just a natural element of non-rhotic dialects. That's nothing to my English ears. Just watch Eastenders or River City, where virtually every character speaks an own dialect. In Oxford you can hear the difference between Summertown and Cowley, both only a few miles apart. Even in the US there are accents that deserve more attention than Bostonian. Just think of New Orleans's dialect with its sweet melody or of that dreadful SW-Californian gabble!
Monday February 18th 2013, 9:53 AM
Comment by: William T. (Melbourne, FL)
Wayda go Al from Joimanee. Ya took da woids right outta my mout altho I don' know what yer tawkin' about wit dat rhotic-shmotic stuff but om gonna look it up da foist chance I get. Yeh,yeh om from Brooklyn an everybody keeps kiddin me about my accent. I say, Wot accent, your da ones hooer tawkin funny. An Al, ta top it off wooden ya know my name has ta be Toiner...spelled T.u.r.n.e.r.
Monday February 18th 2013, 11:31 AM
Comment by: CArolyn H. (Sausalito, CA)
Wednesday February 20th 2013, 11:22 AM
Comment by: Jan S. (Brookline, MA)
"Bubbler" isn't just a Boston usage. We said it (in preference to "drinking fountain") in rural Wisconsin when I grew up back in the forties.
Wednesday February 20th 2013, 11:50 AM
Comment by: Michael Lydon (New York, NY)Visual Thesaurus Contributor
Supah!! My own Boston accent comes and goes since I haven't lived there for years, but when I get excited, it comes back in spades. Go Red Sox! Oh, one thing they didn't mention: the Boston glottal stop. We always said "Brah-ul" for Brattle. When I was in high school a visting friend from Washington pointed out that I never said the t's in words like "little." I thought she was nuts--of course I said the t's! But I didn't!!

Do you have a comment?

Share it with the Visual Thesaurus community.

Your comments:

Sign in to post a comment!

We're sorry, you must be a subscriber to comment.

Click here to subscribe today.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login.