"You want to come with? We're going to the Jewel to pick up some brats."
I love accents, but I didn't realize I had one until I went away to college and my nasally vowels and tendancy to drop letters was pointed out to me by my out-of-state friends. I eventually learned how to drop it if I'm trying to sound professional, but you can tell how pissed off I am by how strong my accent gets.
There are all sorts of studies on American dialects and accents, so I did a little research on the way we talk. What we call a "Chicago accent" is actually called the Inland North American dialect. This encompasses the major cities around the Great Lakes. The dialect used to be considered the standard American accent until the region experienced a vowel shift, now called the North Cities Vowel Shift.
The North Cities Vowel Shift describes the placement of the tongue in the mouth when making different vowel sounds. For example, caught takes on the same vowel sound in cot. Read more about the difference in vowel sounds in an article by linguist Matthew Gordon, found here.
So, now that we know the technical aspect of how we talk, what exactly is a Chicago accent?
We know that we use words like 'pop' and 'gym shoes.' We're known for ending sentences with a preposition, the most common sentence being "do you want to come with?". The Saturday Night Live Bill Swerski Superfans and Mayor Daley have defined what the rest of the country identifies as a Chicago accent.
However, I've found that there is much debate among Chicagoans over what a true Chicago accent sounds like. Some pronounce 'Chicago' as Chi-KAW-go and others pronounce it Chi-KAH-go. I'm part of the latter group, and, in my opinion, that's what the Chicago accent sounds like. "Socks" and "hockey" should be pronounced "sacks" and "hackey."
So what do you think is a true Chicago accent? How do you pronounce Chicago?
Filed under: Did You Know, Chicago?
Tags: Bill Swerski, Chicago, Chicago accent, Chicago Quirk, fake Chicago accent, Inland North American, Matthew Gordon, Mayor Daley, North Cities Vowel Shift, SNL Superfans, Superfans. Saturday Night Live Superfans, Vowel Shift, What does a Chicago accent sound like, What is a Chicago accent