Oy ♥ Noo Yawk (But Maybe Not Da Tawk a’ Da Town)!

Social Science 122

Successful New York City “accent eradication,” as it is termed by speech therapists, while sought by many upwardly mobile clients, nevertheless engenders a kind of panic at the thought of being phonetically deracinated, verbally uprooted, and sonically removed from kith and kin. This talk examines the changing landscape of urban and regional accent here through the lens of a recent report in the digital pages of “Da Noo Yawk Toyms” that caused an instant uproar – in many different accents. Noticeable in particular is an emergent cultural value running counter to long-term trends of stratification of language around a perceived “neutral” standard. It is a kind of American linguistic "AOC" phenomenon, not unlike Europe’s oenological sense of “appellation d’origine contrôlée” and the palpable pleasures it gives of knowing one’s place.