The 'California Accent' Is, Like, Totally Real

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california-accent-clueless.jpeg
Though we probably don't notice it because we're too busy giving hella directions to The 405, Californians have an accent. Like, for reals. 

A team of linguistics researchers from Stanford University has been studying the elusive dialects of the Golden State, which have never been given the same attention as dialects of the East Coast or the South. Common thought had been that we have no accent. We all speak like national TV newscasters--plainly without prolonged drawls, hard Rs or extra vowels. 

The researchers, however, say that of course we have an accent--everyone does--though pinpointing a standard "California accent" is difficult. There are the usual "valley girl" and "surfer dude" stereotypes (as demonstrated brilliantly in the SNL sketch "The Californians"), but according to the project, such notions are "mostly about L.A., and only particular types of people in L.A. at that."    

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So the team descended upon the towns of Redding and Merced in the Central Valley to study accents and dialects. According to NBCNews.com, what they found was that many Californians use the "positive anymore," such as "I shop there anymore." "Anymore" is typically used in a negative construction, such as "I don't shop there anymore." Wait. I shop there anymore?! Who says that? Apparently, the linguistic pattern is well-known in the parts of the Midwest, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  

They also learned that many Californians use a nasally "a," found often in the Midwest. 

Once when [a researcher] was interviewing a student at a Palo Alto high school, he complained the school was too homogenous, noting there weren't a lot of "blocks." After a moment, she realized he said "blacks."

I've never, ever heard that before.  

The researchers also found that Californians sometimes swapped "was" and "were" and blended pen/pin, saying both those words the same.  

This month, the team is gathering data in Bakersfield, and is looking to study more cities. Perhaps OC will be next? Totes hope so. 

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6 comments
crhenning
crhenning

The OC accent sounds uneducated and snobbish at the same time. A 4 syllable word makes the rounds for a few years until its screamingly annoying: "basically, actually"! They are used so often in the conversation that it becomes ridculous. ( out of context, etc., just to sound " smart " to be saying a 'long' word ). The "o" replacing the "a" is quite commonplace. I've been asked if I have, "chopstick". I thought it was the eating utensil when it was the lip balm! " it's like, um, basically, so totally annoying, actually! ".

GaneshaXi
GaneshaXi

@nicklucchesi My husband, who lived in SF Bay for 21 years, has no accent, nor does he talk like a surfer dude.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young

"Though we probably don't notice it because we're too busy giving hella directions to The 405"

 

Uh, 'hella' is notoriously NoCal, while 'the' 405 is SoCal. (It's just '805' up there, not 'the 805').

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