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Communicating In Boston

What stereotype of Boston is not complete without a rendition of Pahk-The -Cah-In - Haavaahd - Yaaahd?

The truth is that Boston lingo is so varied and complicated, I have never actually heard an actor be able to nail it verbatim unless they are actually from here (that means you Mark Wahlberg!).

It is first very important to understand that Boston is such an international and sophisticated city, with so many college students, grad students, visiting professors and travelling physicians, that you can spend quite a bit of time here and never actually hear much of a Boston accent.

The second important point to understand is that different areas around Boston have different versions of the accent. And even within one locale, you can still hear differences. Someone in the Back Bay will have almost no accent at all, whereas someone from Revere or Saugus, will have a strong accent most likely.

So, pinpointing someone's hometown from their accent is downright impossible. I grew up in a metro west suburb and have very little accent at all, yet kids from my town who grew up in a different part of town typically have a more distinct accent. On the other hand, if I spend all day in a South End bar, I'm bound to be speaking a more gutteral Bostonian when I get through. In general, a Boston accent drops the R at the end of a word and leaves a long A instead. So, the word CAR is pronounced as CAAAH. We even use this formation in words like BEER which can be pronounced BEE-AH.

The second most distinctive feature of the accent is the sound of the first "O" in the word Boston itself. The "O" sounds like the word "awe" as in awful, awestruck or aw-shucks. The lips make a perfect "O" shape when making the sound. This sound is also used in the word "cost", "lost" and similar other words with an "O"

The third most distinctive feature of Boston Language is not as much a factor of the accent as a factor of the pronunciation of towns. For out of towners, it is most helpful to know the proper way to say the names of GREATER BOSTON towns. Here is a primer:

SAUGUS - SAW - gus (or for a real local SAW - gis)

GLOUCESTER - GLOH - ster (or GLOH - stah)

WORCESTER - There are two pronounciations to this town:

Bostonians - WOOH - ster (note that the WOOH sound is like in WOOD and GOOD, but is shorter as in WHOOSH)

Locals to Worcester Area - WIH - ster

PEABODY - PEA - buh - dee (all one syllable - good luck with that!)

MEDFORD - MEH - fuh or MED - fihd (depending on where you are from)

WALTHAM - WALL - tham (tham is said like bam or cram)


BILLERICA - bill - RIH - cah

DANVERS - DAN - vihs

WABAN - WAH - bin (the WAH sounds like AWE)



DORCHESTER - DOOAH - chest - uh or DAA - chest - ah (depending on where you are from)

ARLINGTON - AH - ling - ton

NORWOOD - NOa - wood




Accents aside, we do have many sayings and names for things that will help a visitor. So, here are some of them:


jimmies - sprinkles used on ice cream

sub - submarine sandwich which is a hoagie in Philadelphia and a hero sandwich elsewhere

bubbler - water fountain

soda - soda pop (Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, etc)

keggar - keg party

brew - a beer

House of Pizza - A Greek pizza restaurant usually with limited seating (mostly take-out)


The T - The MBTA subway

The Cape - Cape Cod

The Garden - Boston Garden/TD Banknorth Garden (where the Celtics and Bruins play)

Southie - South Boston (not the south end)

The Common - Boston Common


Wicked - means very. We often say "wicked good' (very good) or "wicked smart" (pronounced as 'wicked smaaahht).

Piss-ah - means cool or fun.

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