CBS 3 Did a Report on the Word “Jawn” Last Night

CBS 3 - jawn report

The Grammy Awards were on CBS last night, but in Philadelphia the real prize was what was on the local news afterward. The station promoted it throughout the evening: As part of Nicole Brewer‘s new Good Question series, she explored the existential question that’s been bothering all Philadelphians for centuries: “What is jawn?”

The report went on pretty early in the broadcast, which started late because the Grammys went over. The news opened with weather (naturally), then reported on the LSD busts at Villanova and the norovirus outbreak at Ursinus. After a Grammys recap, Brewer’s report on jawn was next. Read more »

Here’s My Problem With Tina Fey’s Mean-Girl “Philly” Accent

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Tina Fey on SNL (left), and at the opening of Sisters in New York (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Before we start, let’s get a couple important things out of the way.

1) Tina Fey is annoyingly talented and outrageously funny. There are a few seasons of 30 Rock that I’d argue are as good as anything that ever happened on TV, and if I made smart weekend choices, I would have seen Sisters. I don’t, so I saw The Night Before and kept wondering if Tina Fey and Amy Poehler could have saved it.

2) No one should apologize for jokes, least of all Tina Fey. She already warned us that she will not be held responsible for the loss of any PC angel wings, and for that I salute her.

3) Can I say that she looked amazing in that leather mini dress? Or is that anti-feminist? Screw it — as a woman who would sell the remainder of her soul for an ass like that, I’m saying Tina Fey looked amazing. While we’re at it, Hillary is having a great hair week. Well done, ladies.

This all said, I could have done without that now-viral “Bronx Beatsegment on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. In case you live under a beautiful Internet rock, here’s the idea: Basic Bronx housewives Poehler and Maya Rudolph host a talk show, while Fey plays their heavily accented guest, Cousin Karen from the violent hellhole that is Philly. Read more »

Of Course There’s a Philadelphia Accent in American Sign Language

A sample of the program Fisher and Tamminga will use to annotate their interviews. Credit: University of Pennsylvania

A sample of the program Fisher and Tamminga will use to annotate their interviews. Credit: University of Pennsylvania

When local writer JoAnna Loviglio described the Philadelphia accent for the Washington Post a couple years ago, she summed it up this way:

With apologies to comedian Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a Philadelphian if: you say beggle (bagel), wooder (water), tal (towel), beyoodeeful (beautiful), dennis (dentist) or Fit Shtreet (Fifth Street). Also, the name of your home town might sound like Philuffya, and you might call your football team the Iggles, you might pronounce “ferry” and “furry” the same way, and your rendering of “radiator” might rhyme with “gladiator.”

Native Philadelphians could surely add hundreds of examples to that list; personally, I was always dismayed by the way my relatives pronounced “egg” to rhyme with “plague.” And there are still words, like “hanger,” that trip me up on a regular basis because I can’t get the Philly out of them — those hoagie mouth remnants can be stubborn.

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Is Philly’s (or Pittsburgh’s, or Scranton’s) Accent Really So Ugly?

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Bracket via Gawker

Today, I’m pretty proud to be from Pennsylvania.

Not just because we’re now well on our way to expanding the state’s inadequate hate-crime laws (although really, really nice job on that one, guys).  And not simply because we have the most charming autumn this side of a Norman Rockwell canvas (although holy hell, we do — adopt a friend in Berks County and go outside). Our adorable baby steps towards legalizing weed probably has something to do with it, but that’s not why I’m getting all warm and fuzzy today.

You see, three of our fair cities – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton – made it into the second round of Gawker’s “America’s Ugliest Accents Tournament.” The only state to have more than one accent nominated, we swiftly took down Memphis, Atlanta and New Orleans during the preliminary round in an impressive display of Yankee linguistic dominance.

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Why the Philadelphia Accent Is So Fascinating

shutterstock_mouth-jawn-philadelphia-accentGuess what, folks? The New York Times wrote about Philadelphia again! This time, though, it wasn’t about Fishtown! I’m as shocked as you are. No, the Times‘ published a piece by college English professor Daniel Nester titled “The Sound of Philadelphia is Dying Out.” And he doesn’t mean Philadelphia International Records.

The Philadelphia accent has been in the news quite a bit the last year, stemming from the paper Penn professor and linguistics god William Labov — he of the brilliant 1972 “fourth floor” paper — published with two colleagues, “One Hundred Years of Sound Change in Philadelphia: Linear Incrementation, Reversal, and Reanalysis.” Newsworks’ Zach Seward chronicled Labov’s work last year; over at The Atlantic Cities, Emily Badger talked to Labov about his research. The findings, which only apply to white Philadelphians “with deep ties to the city,” are interesting: The change in accent is happening among Philadelphians regardless of background or education level, language change is primarily driven by women, and the Philadelphia accent — once the “northern-most southern city” — is shifting to be more like Northern U.S. cities.

Yes, Philly, we’re starting to sound more like New York and Boston. I know. It’s enough to make you want to get off the pavement and run screaming through the shtreets.

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Let the Philly Accent Fade Away

Historically, Philadelphia has had a bad case of cainophobia. Whether we’re talking about building a highway or bumping up trash day, Philadelphians generally don’t react to change too well. “It’s my city,” we say, “I like it the way it is.” Reinvention, alteration—these things are a threat to the very identity of native Philadelphians everywhere. Progressives, generally speaking, we are not. Read more »

The Old Tastykake Factory Looks Awful But At Least We’re Still Saying “Wooder”

The photos out of the old Tastykake factory are heartbreaking–so much so, it’s hard to imagine ever enjoying the clotted moisture of a Butterscotch Krimpet again. The photos were posted on Streets Dept but were taken by the intrepid Ruin Porn, a photographer who specializes in making images of the area’s decaying, abandoned buildings–outside and inside, despite some ticklish legal issues.

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