New Yorkers, like residents of any other major American city, are proud of their accent and dialect. To understand the slang and accent of New Yorkers, you’ll need to really listen to their distinctive methods of English pronunciation and speech. Of course, no phrasebook or thesaurus is going to help you, so you’ll have to hang around them long enough to learn to decipher their speech patterns. Whether you agree with those who think the New York dialect is the result of a melting pot of immigrant dialects or whether you think this way of speaking English is more of a “mumbo-jumbo” of hurriedly spoken words, here are a few tips on how to speak like a New Yorker.
Replace the Letters
One of the easiest things to do in order to begin speaking English like a New Yorker is to drop a few letters from your normal English pronunciation. The letters T and H? “Fuggedaboudit!” Instead of using the words “these” and “those,” you might say, “dees” and “doze.” It’s also important to note that the R at the end of most words is not pronounced, so “water” becomes “watah.” The more you listen to this type of English pronunciation, the better you’ll get at learning how to pronounce your consonants and vowels like a native New Yorker.
Get the Slang
Learning the local colloquialisms may help you feel a little more at home in New York. How else would you know that a “slice” is a slice of pizza, or that “crosstown” means traveling east or west, while “uptown” and “downtown” mean heading north and south, respectively. Even greetings and conversation fillers sound different: you might hear “how you doin’” as a hello or “get outta hea” as an expression of surprise. While it may be difficult to understand the meaning of local slang at first, putting in the time to learn about this aspect of New York culture can make your experience in the city much easier and more fulfilling.
Attitude is Everything
One important part of speaking English like a New Yorker? It’s less about what you say and more about how you say it. Traditionally, New Yorkers are perceived as confident and direct, often ready to share their opinions without much prompting. They also have a reputation for speaking loudly and for talking a lot. Although it can be difficult for new speakers to feel ready to show off this kind of attitude while speaking English, New Yorkers will respect any efforts you make to talk with confidence.
If you’d like to enhance your instruction in English by learning more about the New York accent and slang, there’s no better way than to come to New York to hear the dialect for yourself! Check out our website for more information about the area or our English programs.