Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I’ve been an avid speller since I was quite young.  Spelling was one of my favorite subjects (besides geography) when I was little, and I was thrilled to be included in the accelerated spelling program from when I was seven years old.

That being said…

I was unable to spell the word “margarita” until I was 17 years old.

The reason?

I grew up in the Boston area.

People mock the Boston accent.  Most people say that I don’t have a Boston accent, but at the same time, they’re expecting to hear Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.  Even within the region, there are several dialects of the Boston accent.  While my parents and other family members all have thick Boston accents, they’re from the North Shore — mainly Lynn and Revere.

(I often joke that every single member of my family except for my sister and me has spent time growing up in Lynn.  There are very few exceptions.  For background, Lynn was one of the few Boston-area cities allowing abortions, inspiring the rhyme, “Lynn, Lynn, city of sin, you never come out the way you went in, you ask for water, they give you gin…”)

People from Lynn and Revere don’t talk like people from Dorchester and Southie, except that they omit their R’s.  Seriously, you should come to a family gathering of mine.  And when the family members are around, the accent thickens.

(Personally, I live in the city now, but whenever I head home into the suburbs, I think that the accents kick into overdrive.  I always hear much more of a Boston accent among the older crowd on the North Shore than I do among the younger crowd in Boston.)

Therefore, there are three words with which I never enunciate the R: margarita, watermelon and drawer.  Mahgarita, watahmelon and drah.

It’s for this reason that I didn’t know how to spell the word “margarita” until I was 17 years old.

That being said, I hope you had as many mahgaritas as my friend Esther and I did, although we were unable to get into the Cactus Club.  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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6 responses to “Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  1. I love Cinco de Mayo(nnaise)

  2. My aunt grew up just outside of Boston, in Randolph. She never failed to crack me up at family dinners when she asked for a fahk for her steak.

    And don’t get me started on her bathroom renovation stories.

    “So then I had to go to the stah and get cahk to seal the tub…”

  3. I hear ya’ Kate. I blame my dyslexia on my accent!!!!

    My BFF- Kristy- was the subject of a socialinguists project of mine in college. She couldn’t physically make the words “orphan” and “often” sound different. Same with “Dom” (like short for Dominic) and “dorm,” it was great.

    The project had a script with all kinds of words. We had to tape the person reading the story and she couldn’t get through it because all of us were laughing so hahd!!

  4. We used to have a receptionist who was East Boston-bred and -born. Big hair, too much eyeshadow, the whole stereotype. I walked by her desk one day while she was talking to someone about “shawts.” I thought she meant a medical procedure until she said “awnj shawts” and I realized she was referring to clothing (“orange shorts”)!

    I’m not from here (or even from heah). I grew up just outside DC and learned my speech patterns from my mother, who spent the first thirty years of her life in Chicago where they basically have no accent whatsoever. Some people look strangely at me because I pronounce “drawer” as “dror” and put my R’s where the dictionary says they’re supposed to be… :-)

  5. I grew up in Lowell, so I definitely hear ya. I’ll never forget the time my thick-accented mother asked my Delaware-born husband if he wanted to go to a party with my fam.

    He looked at her, goggle-eyed, politely declined, and then later quietly asked me why my mother had asked him to go to the bathroom with her.

    He—honest to God—thought she had said “potty.”

    New England accents are fun.

  6. I grew up in Northern (Norwegian ) Wisconsin. The th sound was foreign to me and our long o’s are rivaled only by our friends in Canada. Luckily, I married a woman who has made it her personal endeavor to correct my grammar.

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