Pawtucket Stories and Tips

The Rhode Island accent!

I have been living in Idaho on and off since 1992. When I talk to people at work or out in the town, many of them ask me where I am from. When I say I was born and raised in Rhode Island, people will say, "You don''t have the accent." My Rhode Island accent only comes out when I talk very fast and people have teased my mm, sister, and I about how Rhode Islanders don''t pronounce their "R''s." Instead of saying, "I will park the car," Rhode Islanders say, "I will pahk the cah!"

There is a Rhode Island cartoonist named Don Bosquet who has published several books on Rhode Island life and humor. If you visit Rhode Island, you must purchase or read one of his books, but ask a native Rhode Islander if you can''t understand any of the humor.

It is a national joke how Rhode Islanders speak. My father''s friend, Keith, said that he can never understand us when we talk, but he has been going deaf for a long time, and that might be a reason for not understanding us. Keith once said we sound Scottish. Ok!

My sister Erika used to be a restaurant manager and every time she said "Order" when putting food up to be served, her boss would try to imitate her "Ohder!" and would fail miserably. It is a distinct dialect and accent. We have been compared to the Kennedys when we talk, but the Kennedys are from Boston and have a Boston Brahmin accent, but Rhode Island has Patrick Kennedy, Ted''s son, as a Representative in Congress.

It really rubs Mom and I the wrong way when we are watching a rare Boston Red Sox game on TV and the announcers try to pronounce the minor league team, the Pawtucket Red Sox. They say "Pawww-tucket," and we scream at the TV, "It''s not Pawww-tucket, it''s Puh-tucket."

One of my history professors at the University of Idaho had a heck of a time pronouncing a Rhode Island delicacy called the quahog and I would have to pronounce it whenever he was talking about wampum, Native American currency. It is pronounced "qwa-hog" or "co-hog."

So if you are in Rhode Island or meet one in your travels, don''t think we have a speech impediment or bad English teachers. It''s just the way we talk!

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