Friday, March 3, 2017

New York City English

New York City English is a regional dialect of American English. It's spoken by many in the city of New York and the metropolitan area. Sociolinguist William Labov considers it the most recognizable dialect in North America. The dialect is known for a number of pronunciation features.

The pronunciation of New York City English is also heard in western Long Island and in northeastern New Jersey. Non-rhoticity is a feature of this dialect, but in many speakers this is variable. Another feature that is associated with this dialect is l-vocalization in words such as milk, sell and twelve.

The traditional New York City dialect is non-rhotic. In other words, the r isn't pronounced at the end of a syllable as in car, park and word. However, the r is now variably rhotic. This makes the dialect more similar to other American dialects.

New York City English has th-fortition. The interdental fricatives are often realized as alveolar plosives. The result is that through and true sound the same. However, this alternation varies by class. It appears more regularly in working-class speech.

The dialect has a feature known as intrusive g. When this feature is applied, Long Island is pronounced with a velar plosive at the end of the first word. This is popularly written Lawn Guyland.

New York City English has h-reduction in words such as huge, human and humour.  This is different from the h-dropping heard in England because the New York dialect only drops the h in a restricted environment. It's always followed by /ju/.

In New York City English the vowels of cot and caught are distinguished. The vowel of cot is higher than the vowel of caught. Many other American dialects don't make this distinction.

The New York City dialect maintains a three-way distinction in Mary, marry and merry. The first vowel of the first word is low, the first vowel of the second word is a mid lax vowel and the first vowel of the third word is a mid tense vowel. The vowels in furry and hurry are also distinct. The first vowel of furry is a lower mid central vowel, and the first vowel of hurry is an upper mid central vowel.

Words such as forest, horrible and orange are pronounced with the same stressed vowel as in part. In most of the rest of the United States, they are pronounced with the vowel of port.

New York City English also has a short-a split system Words such as badge, pan and class are pronounced with a low tense vowel, and words such as bat, map and patch are pronounced with a low lax vowel. The words bat, map and patch have the vowel of other American dialects.

The dialect known as New York City English is spoken not only in New York City, but also in the metropolitan area and New Jersey. The dialect is well-known for distinctive features of pronunciation. They include non-rhoticity, the short-a split system and h-reduction.


Sugarloaf said...

Thanks for this most interesting post. A reference to an example would be helpful.

Les Zsoldos said...

Here's a link where you can hear New York City English:

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