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Wicked Good Words: Lighthearted Linguistics

Posted by crimsonlanguage on 2011/08/12

Just to lift your mood after this week’s wild economic ride: lighthearted linguistics

Having lived in Boston for some 29 years, I feel a certain affinity to the place – though not a native, Boston feels like home in many respects. One of the things that I’ve always liked about Boston are the distinct neighborhoods. As if, when immigrants disembarked their ships in the 1700’s and 1800’s, they kept a hope of return and established ethnic enclaves to remind themselves of home.

A unifying aspect to the varied and successive waves of English, Scots, Irish, Italians, Portuguese, Greeks is the distinctive Boston Accent. Often illustrated by a pithy suggestion to “Pahk the Cah in Hahvad Yahd”, a Boston accent (in my opinion), is best when peppered with New England regionalisms – wicked pissah, right? My undergraduate work in Celtic Studies and graduate studies in Scotland gave me with a real appreciation for regional accents and dialect. Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, wrote in a broad, lowland Scots dialect – and regionalisms represent some of the richest areas to mine for linguistic curiosities and unexpected connections to history.

I always enjoy hosting clients in our Boston offices because I get to play tourguide to the many interesting and historically significant places. For everyone who visits us in the future – I plan to use this book and web article as background for the rich and curious dialect, too.


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