Hyundai’s “smaht pahk” Boston accent commercial from the Supah Bowl back in February was a big hit for the brand. It certainly caused a lot of buzz in the Boston media market. But it was largely filled with weak Boston accent clichés. Pahk the cah!
C’mon. Wicked lame.
In reality, the old Boston accent is far more complex than people realize – one reason it’s impossible to fake. You either have it (like I do) or you don’t. A Revere girl can fake her orgasms or get a boob job. But she can’t fake her Boston accent. It’s real and it’s spectacular.
As most people know, the “r” is dropped throughout a variety of Boston accent words. There’s actually a scientific name for this linguistic trait. It’s called a non-rhotic accent. But there are many other examples of non-rhotic accents around the English-speaking world. It’s not particular to Boston.
Instead, “non-rhoticity” is only ONE of the Boston accent’s many peculiarities. Among other distinguishing qualities, Bostonians:
- often add an “r” at the end of words where it doesn’t belong (idear)
- commonly drop the ‘t” in the middle of words or replace “t” with a “d” (tamadeo)
- pronounce the vowel “o” as “aw” or “awe” (lawbstah)
- replace the “ers” at the end of a word with “iz” (sneakiz)
- replace the “ets” at the end of a word with “itz” (St. Mahgritz)
- basically, replace any vowel (a, e, o, u) before the final consonant (usually an “r” or “t”) with an “i” (yogit)
That final linguistic quirk trips up all the fakeihz in Hollywood. They just don’t get it. Nobody does, really. So as a result of its misunderstood complexity nobody can really imitate the Boston accent unless they were born into it.
It also means there are a bunch of totally underrated words with a Boston accent. Here they ahh. We’ll add new words as we think of them or as they ahh brought ouah attention.
actah – movie stah, like the guy from Cambridge who married Jennifah Gahna
ahht – you know, a painting.
ahticle – story in the Boston Herald or Boston Magazine
bastid – William the Conquerer; guy who cuts you off on the Xway.
Bawstin – Boston with a Bawstin accent
beah – big scary animal in the state pahk, or a tasty beverage from Hahpoon (yes, we pronounce the word the same either way). The Chicago Beahs beat the shit out of the Pats in Super Bowl XX. It was wicked bad. Dad drank a ton of beah that night.
cahdiologist – haht doctah
cahbaradah – thing that injects gas into the engine of your cah
Chahgiz – piece of shit NFL team from Southern California. The Pats always beat the Chahgiz.
Cuber – country in the Caribbean. Boston’s own JFK almost wiped it from the face of the Earth.
dahts – game you play at the bah while drinking beah
Dawt – short for Dawchester. My family was from St. Mahk’s parish.
editah – person who works at The Boston Globe newspapah
fahmah – guy in Aroostook County who drives a tracdah and grows patadiz
fayva – when your help your buddy Sully move. He owes ya! Used to be a shoe store too where kids bought their sneakiz. Google it!
gahbige – trash. Like the Pittsburgh Steelers defense
gahden – place to grow tamadeos; also, THE Gahden, where the Bruins and Celtics play
gahhd – John Hannah, Tiny Ahchibald
Gawd – createuh of heaven and earth
hahbah – safe place on the wadah
haht – muscle inside your chest; Larry Bird had tons of it.
hahdcaw – pawnography
hawkey – sport played on ice with a puck; Bobby Orr was the best hawkey playa evah. EV-AH!
idear – deep thought
kindagahdin – school before first grade
Lahge Mahge – creepy truck drivah in the PeeWee Herman movie
lawbstah – tasty crustacean they catch in cold New England wadah; you dip the meat in lawtsa budda!
lawbstihz – more than one lawbstah
layba – having a baby; the guys who work at Local 12 or 103
licka – booze, like vodker
Mahhch – the month after February. Bostonians mahhch down the streets every Mahhch to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day. It’s still wicked cold! There’s A LOT of beah
Numbhiz – The Lottery; “I gotta go play the Numbhiz at Cumberland Fahms.”
Obahmer – former president. Went to Hahvid
odah – bad smell in yah ahmpit or at low tide in Boston Hahbah
Oooba – app used to ordih a cah
pahdy – wicked good time in college
pawty – little toilet for toddliz; you were pawty trained soon after you were born at St. Mahgritz
pahkah – heavy wintah coat; fancy downtown hotel famous for its dinna rolls and Bawstin cream pie; forma BU hawkey coach
pahlah – your grandmothah’s living room; she probably covered the sofer in plastic
patadiz – foundation of the Irish-American diet; Ireland suffered a famine in the 1840s when all the patadiz died
petesir – pie with cheese and tamadeo sauce; South Shore bar pizza is a style of petesir found only south of Boston
phahmacy – place to buy drugs, like Viagrer
plastah – stuff that keeps your walls together, probably put up by a guy from County Cawk
plastihd – wicked shitfaced. Frankie C was plastihd that night at Boston College when he drove up over the curb in his Toyoter and blew out his tiahs. (See also, “hammihed”)
QuartaPoundah (all one word) – 4-ounce hamburger from McDonald’s
robawt – like, R2D2 or C3PO
shahk – really big scary fish. Shahks eat swimmahs in Chat-em every summa.
Stahbucks – wicked good coffee shop, but no Dunkie’s
suppah – hot dogs, beans and brown bread
tahdy – late
tahta sauce – mix of manaze and relish. You get it with fried clams at The Beachcoma.
tamadeo (also, tamadea) – it’s really a fruit but everybody thinks it’s a vegetable; you say tamadeo, I say tamado
tawdy – hot whiskey cocktail
tuba – root vegetable, like a pahsnip
tuber – lahge brass instrument
Whoppah – really big sandwich from Burger King
yahn – great story or something to sew with. Absolutely the most underrated Boston accent word. Only a real Bostonian can pronounce yahn properly. Can’t fake it. There’s almost kinda an “e” in there and just the glimmer of a second syllable, like, ye-ahn. But extremely subtle.
yihz – plural of “you.” The Boston version of “y’all.” Where yihz going? What ahh yihz doing?
yogit – health food