How to Talk with a New Jersey Accent

Have you heard the amazing news?  New Jersey was ranked the 5th sexiest accent in North America by the dating site

My Facebook feed is blowing up.  I don't think we've ever been so proud.

The funny thing is I thought I sounded like Diane Sawyer until I moved to Chicago.  When it suddenly seemed everyone could tell I wasn't from around these parts, I realized I might not sound like Sawyer (make that 'Soy-er' - heavy on the 'Soy' sound).

But, I thought my years in college in Pennsylvania, law school in Boston and life in NYC had tempered it.  If you want to hear a real NJ accent, visit Belleville, New Jersey.  Stay at the Belleville Motor Lodge on Washington Avenue.  (That is a joke. Do NOT do that.)

But, I guess I still had it.  Still had a bit of the Jersey drawl.  And I hope I never lose it.  When people would try to imitate me, I'd laugh politely.

Then, a show called Made in Jersey aired on CBS.  It was the story of:

a dark-haired (check)

female attorney (check)

born and raised in New Jersey (check)

to a close Italian-American family (check)

who works at a New York city law firm (check)

where she feels her colleagues' skepticism (check).

They cast a lovely actress (from England! Really? Really.) who was mixing a Boston accent and a Staten Island accent with a touch of Queens.

I was irate.

If you're going to make a terrible show obviously based on the story of my life, GET THE ACCENT RIGHT!

(Epilogue: She meets a bald, Jewish ad exec, moves to Chicago, writes a blog and lives happily ever after.)

So, how do you talk with a New Jersey accent?  Take careful note of the following:

1/ We pronounce our 'R's.
It's Boston and Staten Island that say "pahk the cah" and "bottle a wawtah." In fact, we accentuate our 'R's. It's "WAW-TER."

2/ One particular vowel is the key .  
Which brings me to the key to Jersey diction - the letter 'A.'  Repeat after me:
It's not talk, it's tawk.
It's not walk, it's wawk.
It's not water, it's wawter (I'll break your legs if you dropped that 'R.' Did you drop the 'R?' Did you?)
It's not coffee, it's cawfee. Okay, that's an 'O' but you get the point.

3/ Relax that mouth.
One thing in common with Staten Island - I mean, they are just across the bridge there - while they might say 'water' differently, did you catch the "bottle a" instead of "bottle of?"
Maybe it's a bit of a lazy way of speaking but it's no lazier than those accents from the South - who, by the way, should not get too used to their #1 spot.

In the spirit of Roses, here's to ~
drawls, drops and diction of all kind - let's embrace it! - and, most of all, that it's possible to be proud of how far you've come and still never forget where you came from. Call me, CBS.

Fern Ronay relocated to Los Angeles in 2014 with her husband. Her first novel, Better in the Morning, the story of a single 29-year-old Manhattan lawyer who is guided in her dreams by her dead Italian grandparents, is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Follow the hashtag #BetterInTheMorningBook on social media and follow Fern on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @FernRonay.




Filed under: New Jersey, TV

Tags: New Jersey, television

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