Smahten Up

I’m told I have an accent. While I find this absurd – I am the only person I know who doesn’t have an accent – I sometimes see people light up when I say certain words, and it’s usually a cue to brace for the inevitable retort of, “pahk the cah at Hahvid yahd.

Let me tell you a secret: this most famous of let’s-sound-New-Englandy phrases does not amuse anyone from the northeast. This “joke” is a tired cliché, and compounding the insult is our disgust with you for thinking you’re dropping the cleverest thing a northern Yankee has ever heard. If you’ve ever said this, the smile or nod you received in response actually meant, “I am struggling to stop myself from popping you in the mouth.” That line was worn out ten years after Harvard was founded. That was 1636.

This problem isn’t unique to New England. People from the tri-state area surely hate when some clever chump chimes, “I tawked to this guy in Joisey,” and I suspect the high murder rate in Chicago is exacerbated by tourists saying “Da Bears.” Every regional dialect has to contend with these lowest common denominator commentaries on regional linguistic quirks – I’m sure anyone in the South who’s reading this is thinking, “y’all think you’ve got problems?” – and in each place, they tend to sound more like mockery than fellowship.

I can’t fix the whole world, but I feel compelled to try to fix my part of it, so as a public service that I hope will save you from a future bloody nose, I’ve compiled a few phrases that will have a better chance of winning the affections of New Englanders:

The regional cultural reference

                The Sox broke my haht when they traded Nomah.

Former Red Sox Nomar Garciaparra might have the best name in Massachusetts’ history. I’ve known more dogs and cats called Nomah than any other name. You might worry it would be lost on folks who don’t follow the Sox, but no such people exist in that area.

                Stahbuck’s got no flavah.

It’s a simple, efficient phrase, but if you go this route, make sure you don’t accidentally praise the ubiquitous west-coast coffee giant. Otherwise you’re likely to get a hahsh beatin’ with a Dunkin mug.

               Christ, that’s some wicked good chowdah.

This one’s best once you’re north of the New Hampshire liquor store, though if you do it too well, the only reply you’ll get is, “whose chowdah we talkin’ heah?” On the bright side, you’re not going to do it that well.

The transplanted cultural reference

                Baht Stahh is my favorite quahtahback.

The phrase obviously accentuates the optional nature of the northern R, but be careful with this kind of reference. No one in New England gives a shit about Bart Starr – or any othah goddam Packah – so be sure you quickly follow it with, “Though he’s no Brady.”

The regional colloquialism

                Brown sugah Pup Tahts ah wicked pissah. 

There’s more to the accent than saving money on Rs – many folks play fast and loose with other letters, which is why it’s hut out sounds like the Queen’s English on a summer day. However, if you were unaware that the phrase above translates to “these toaster pastries are awesome”, this isn’t the phrase for you. Mess up wicked pissah and you’ll look like a retahd. Yes, many folks still use that word there, not in defiance of political correctness, but because the word has nothing to do with people with disabilities – it’s just an adjective to describe someone who still wears their Damon jersey after he jumped ship to the Evil Empire.

The independent clause

                Let’s get this pahty stahted with a coupla lagahs.

It’s a fun phrase to say, but be warned – some folks are going to mistake it for an invitation, and when you explain that you were just trying on the accent for size, they’ll be disappointed that you talked about getting beahs when you didn’t mean it. If you see their face brighten when you use this one, plan on a quick stop at the bah.

Finally, if you’re thinking, “this guy’s a crank, everyone loves my hahvid yahd line,” then you’re a retahd, and at the bare minimum, you should replace your stupid joke with a fresh variation, something like:

                Saabs ah hahd cahs to pahk

Of course, Saab is a red herring. No matter where you’re from, you can’t say that brand without sounding like you’re from Bah Habbah or Glostah. And if you’re currently trying to figure out which two New England cities I just referenced, I recommend you limit your commentary to this:

                I like your accent.




© 2017 WPReagan

2 response to "Smahten Up"

  1. By: John Borroz Posted: 01/29/2017

    … seems like only yestuhday…..I was foah yeeahs old… the lady at the Vancouvah library got all flustahed………I kept repeatin’: “I’m heah ta get my new cahd!!!!!!……true story!!!…..foahchunuttly……my Mah was fluent in Westin grammah……so she soahted it out……NO WAY I could say my ahhs when I was foah yeeahs old!!!….if it wasn’t foah my Mah……it woulda been “no cahd fa me!!!”……..true story!!!…..

  2. By: Willreagan Posted: 01/29/2017

    I love that story John! It makes this page an even better read. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *