Keep reading for 9 things only a student with a New Jersey accent understands!
1. People view you differently depending on the way you speak.
Accents are “a distinctive mode of pronunciation of a language, especially one associated with a particular nation, locality, or social class” as defined by the Oxford Dictionaries. They are a means by which we segregate, congregate, and discriminate. But why does the way we speak affect the way we view others? As someone born and raised in New Jersey, I have an accent, it’s not very distinctive but I pronounce some words differently.
2. Others wrongly assume where you are from because of your accent.
New Jersey shares a border with New York and Pennsylvania. As such, depending on where in the state you are, the accent will change. I’m from central New Jersey (yes, it does indeed exist!) and many people in my area travel to New York City on the daily for work. So, the vast majority of the people have a more “North Jersey” accent, rather a more New York City influenced. But, if I drive 20-30 minutes south on Interstate 95 the accent is closer to that of a Philadelphian as a result of closer proximity.
3. People base their opinion of a true New Jersey accent based on what they hear in the media.
I decided to ask some of my peers at Temple University and surrounding greater Philadelphia colleges and universities what they thought a New Jersey accent was. I was expecting imitations of “The Sopranos”, “The God Father”, “The Jersey Shore”, especially “The Jersey Shore”… Stereotype was all I received, from “Joisey” to “Fuhgetaboutit”, all of the pronunciations were based off the medias convention of the way people from New Jersey speak.
4. Not everyone from New Jersey has a “Soprano” accent.
This article wont change the way people perceive people from New Jersey, it’s simply my attempt to set the record straight. The media found the extreme accents in NJ and generalized them, as it does in most other situations. That’s not to say that there aren’t people here who have incredibly thick accents, similar to that of Tony Soprano, they exist too-but that’s not all of us.
5. I promise I do not sound like the cast of “The Jersey Shore”.
Ok, maybe I sound a little bit like Snooki, after all she is from Florham Park, NJ. So there’s a slight possibility that she says “wooder” instead of “water”, like I do. There are a few words that “gave me away” when I moved to Philadelphia last August to attend Temple University.
6. You get interrupted and asked to say certain words when introducing yourself.
During these first few days at Temple I introduced myself to some wonderful people with your average “Hey my name is…” spiel. Like every other conversation I started with my name, and then progressed to where I was from and in this case moved forward with my major and hopeful career path. But on more than one occasion I was stopped immediately after saying I was from New Jersey and asked “So how do you say water?” or “So you’re like an Indian Snooki?.. Not that being Snooki is a terrible thing, supposedly her net worth is upwards of four million dollars. But I digress… What bothered me the most was the assumption that being from Central New Jersey meant that I sounded like the media’s representation. Quite frankly, it was disheartening and a little insulting.
7. I responded to my peers and said “Does it matter if I tawk differently?”
At least I don’t say “bee-yoodi-ful.” Many Philadelphians and people in the surrounding area emphasize their vowels differently. My peers didn’t realize that their pronunciation was any different because pronunciation is something we don’t always pay attention to, until it’s brought to our attention. I was the same way, no one at home said anything it was just the way I spoke. When we are in a surrounding where everyone speaks the same it’s hard to notice the peculiarities of our language-when we move out of those lingual regions we enter areas with different speech peculiarities.
8. We focus on extremes and not different perspectives.
My retort was made in a moment of frustration, after multiple people had pointed out that I spoke differently I had to make a point to show them how their speech was different than mine. We are used to the conventions we hear or see regularly and make assumptions based on the media, past experiences, etc. Sometimes we forget that there are other perspectives to be seen, and focus only on the extremes.
9. Now let me say this before anyone gets upset…
Philadelphia and its residents welcomed me with open arms and I absolutely adore the city. I understand that I say “tawk” (talk), “cawfee” (coffee), “wooder” (water) and sometimes I drop my R’s but hey, it’s the way I talk. You talk the way you talk and I talk the way I do. The media has its generalizations of people, and as consumers of that information we sometimes forget that what we see isn’t always the reality. What I am trying to say is that, we share a border from both states cross the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, take I-95, and many other routes to go from one state to the other. We are people and we are allowed to express ourselves through our manner of speech. So, does it really matter if a girl from central Jersey articulates herself a bit differently? I don’t think so.