Do You Have A Connecticut Accent?

Colin explores the wide-ranging world of regional accents in America.

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Susan Bartlett is a speech pathologist based in Connecticut.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Chris Knopf is an author and the CEO of Mintz & Hoke Communications Group in Avon, Connecticut.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Chris, Susan and Colin pose for a photo after a show about regional accents.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Do You Have A Connecticut Accent?
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Do You Have A Connecticut Accent?
One of the ongoing debates in American sociolinguistics concerns the so-called Ocracoke brogue, a dialect from the barrier islands off the cost of North Carolina. You could probably throw in the dialect of Smith Island off the coast of Maryland.  There are people who claim that these dialects represent a closer approximation of Elizabethan English, the accent spoken by Shakespeare's actors, than anything found anywhere else. 
Weighing the evidence, I'm not really buying that, but there is an unmissable sound of the British Isles in the way these people talk, and it's probably true that the colonial accent of the early 18th century lingers more in the sounds of their speech than it does elsewhere in the U.S.
Linguists who studied the Smith islanders discovered that the "old" accent is actually stronger in the youngest generation. Today, a show about dialects and regional accents. 
You can join the conversation. E-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.
***This episode originally aired June 4, 2013***



Email from Dave

Your guest missed the pt the caller was making. The caller was referring to placing the emphasis on "new" rather than "haven."

Not familiar w/ the emphasis your guest is referring to. Everyone I know around New Haven says New HAY-ven.

Email from Lori:

Interesting show. I hail from Brookfield Ct. I have a home in Vermont. One time during our outings
my husband and I got talking to a "local" They happened to mention to me if we were from Connecticut?
I said yes , how did you know? They said because of our accents. lol


The Connecticut accent that makes me want to cover my ears -- or turn off the radio -- is one I associate with New Britain and other locales in central Connecticut, in which the speaker replaces the "t" at the end of a syllable with a gagging sound. I hear it in "New Bri(gagging sound)-un" and in "bu(gagging sound)." I hear it in the voice of the radio and tv sports guy Joe D'Ambrosio, and I find it extremely unpleasant.


Colin, just heard intro.... in my college radio days, I worked hard to lose my regional accent. Never knew I had one. Most people, including linguists I've talked usually w can't tell where I'm originally from--unless I'm tired... I'm a new Bedford (read New Bedfid) Mass boy... but I still say "I dear.".


Hartford accent

Can becomes "kee-ann"

Pan becomes "pee-ann"

Give me a "hee-and" (hand)

i haven't lived in the area for decades, but frequently visit, and it comes back quickly.


One thing I noted some years ago was in the "Wizard of Oz" made with Judy Garland. Every single one of the accents in that film centers on the town of Haverhill, MA. These are NOT Kansas accents. Nobody in Kansas would ever call a girl "DAUR-uh-thee" She would be "DOOR-thee."

Of course growing up in Prairie Village, Kansas, we absolutely did not understand what "Ayuh" was in the play "Our Town" when we performed it. None of us had ever been to New England.


I love the subject of this show, my friends and I have this discussion all the time! I grew up in Hartford (on Moun'ain Street!) and spent 10 years in Minneapolis, and *they* thought *I* spoke funny!


For the good of the discussion, it’s a little disingenuous to refer to an English or British accent as the range of accents might well exceed those of the US,.


I moved from HarTford to Waddafud 35 years ago.


As a hardcore (HARDcore) linguistic/dialect wonk. I loved (LOVED) the show today.

I grew up in Boston thinking that "hard" was pronounced "hahd". Then I became an actor and had to learn how to rid myself of this annoying "regionalism" and learn many more just-as-annoying regionalisms (early on, I had a director fling a music stand at me shouting "It's not "gawd"! It's pronounced "gahd", gahdammit!") And you are so right... there are a number of "Brit" dialects. Five by my count. Or seven, maybe... or eight.... :-)


I enjoyed today's show about accents. particularly the reference to Smith Island.

I was born and brought up in Crisfield, which is the 'mainland' for Smith Island.

My father had a store near the docks. Many of our customers were Islanders.

This was in the late '30's and early '40's, long before accents were polluted by

outside influences like TV.

My comments: How come you didn't mention Tangier Island, Virginia, a little

South of Smith Island, but and equally prominent fishing island, with an

equally distinct accent?

To us, the accent of both islands sounded Cockney: I was Oi; come was

Kim; mailboat (a major form of transportation back and forth) was Mileboat.

Later a folk singer from Mystic who had made

a study of coastal accents said that he thought that the accent was Welsh.

I don't know what he based his observation on.

Best of luck...Public radio continues to save the sanity of this listener, and,

I trust, many others


Throughout your program yesterday on dialects, I was mystified why you didn't engage Mr. Dankowsky for his understanding and experience, then you and Chion saved it in a big way.

Did you know there's a Pittsburgh call-in radio show called "Sports An' 'At?"


VERY interesting program on accents on Tuesday. I didn't get thru, but I'd have loved to hear your guests' comments about how we in the Nutmeg State pronounce the state's name. EVERYONE on cpr and cptv says "kinettikit". It's understandable, I guess, since anyone who has to say the name a thousand times a day wants to say it in the quickest way, and kinettikit can be said without any movement of the lips--it can even be said with a big open-mouthed smile. (Perhaps that's why many politicians say it that way--even though the Governor seems to say Kunettikit. [He says it so quickly that it's hard to pin down his pronunciation.] What I'd have liked to hear your guests comment on is the possibility that residents of the other 49 states pronounce it phonetically--"Kunettikut" or "Kahnettikut"--and that only here in CT is "Kinettikit" widespread.
Thanks for your choices of programs; and best wishes.

PS: I'm sure that I've never heard anyone pronounce the state university's name "you-kin."