Sean Pavone

Tommy: Is the New Orleans accent disappearing?

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
May 17, 2019 - 10:58 am

There’s an old joke about a native New Orleanian who goes into a grocery store up north to buy a six pack.  “Where,” he asks, “do y’all keep y’all’s beer at?” 

The clerk, nose in air, replies “around here, we don’t end our sentences with prepositions.  So then the New Orleanian says “I’m sorry, cap. Lemme try again.  Where do y’all keep y’all’s beer at, A^&HOLE?”

We had a fascinating conversation this morning with Katie Carmichael, a sociolinguist whose doctoral dissertation was all about the linguistics, accents and colloquialisms of our area.  In other words, how we talk.  As we’ve all noticed we not only speak differently than other parts of the country; we speak differently in different parts of the city.

We also talked about the dichotomy of pronunciation in New Orleans.  If you pronounce all of your “Rs” while at work, what do you do when you go home for Sunday dinner?  Continue to speak as if you were at work and have your family ask “who the hell do you think you’re trying to impress?”  Or do you just let the New Orleans flow at professional meetings, presuming others will think it’s charming.

Should we put our accents and colloquialisms on the endangered species list?  Will future generations still be “making groceries”?  Washing dishes in the “zinc?” Or, heaven forbid, stop saying “neutral ground” and start using the generic “media?” 

Oh lawd, I hope it doesn’t come to dat!

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