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Pronunciation Guide to Cities and Towns
Visitors from outside of New England are often confounded by local pronunciations, especially of Massachusetts cities and towns. Here’s a guide that’ll help you sound like a local:
WUH – stuh; also acceptable: WIS – tuh
Just remember not to pronounce any r’s in Worcester and you’ll be fine.
LEH – min – stuh
Forget about the “O” in Leominster! The first 2 syllables sound just like “lemon”.
LEH – stuh
Pronounced like Lester.
HAYV – rull (2 syllables!)
WOO – burn
Make sure the first syllable rhymes with “who”.
Hingham, Dedham, Stoneham
Almost any town that ends in “ham”: First syllable accented and the “H” in “ham” is silent. The “ham” is actually pronounced “um”. So we have: HING – um, DED – um, STONE – um.
WALL – tham
An exception to the above rule, actually pronounced almost as you might expect.
QUIN – zee
Although some locals do say Quin – see, all of the old-timers will pronounce it with a ‘z’.
PEA – b’dee
Please don’t pronounce Peabody like Mr. Peabody and Sherman with the Wayback machine! It’s pronounced with somewhere between 2 and 3 syllables.
GLAH – stuh
We like to keep city and town names down to 2 syllables whenever possible, regardless of the number of vowels the name may contain. Gloucester should rhyme with Foster.
MED – fid
It is commonly believed that people who live in Medford pronounce the name MEF – fid, but I’ve found this to not be the case. The “D” is pronounced but only lightly.
COP – lee
Not really a town, but a district in Boston. I don’t know why I have to point this out, but I’ve found that a lot of tourists pronounce it COPE – lee, with a long “O”. Maybe they just expect names to be pronounced in unexpected ways? But fear not, Copley is pronounced just the way it looks, with the first syllable rhyming with “pop” and “hop”.
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You're from Mass if ... Part 4
76. You know that P-Town isn't the name of a new rap group.
77. People you don't like are all "Bastids."
78. You took off school or work for the Patriots first Super Bowl Win
79. You've called something "wicked pissa."
80. You'll always get razzed for Dukakis.
81. Saturday afternoons meant Creature Double Feature with Dale Dorman.
82. Sunday mornings meant the Three Stooges on Channel 38.
83. You've slammed on your brakes to deter a tailgater.
84. No, you don't trust the Gorton's Fisherman.
85. You know that Papa Gino's usually has a jukebox.
86. You think Aerosmith is the greatest rock band of all time.
87. Your town has at least 6 pizza and roast beef shops.
88. You know at least three Tony's, one Vinnie and a Frankie.
89. 20 degrees is downright balmy as long as there ain't no wind - then
it gets wicked cold.
90. You were very sad when saying goodbye to the Boston Garden .
91. Thanksgiving means family, turkey, High School football, and the
long version of Alice's Restaurant.
92. You know the guy who founded the Boston Pops was named Athah
93. You know what the Combat Zone is.
94. You actually drive 45 minutes to New Hampshire to save $5 in sales
95. You've pulled out of a side street and used your car to block
oncoming traffic so you can make a left.
96. You've bragged about the money you've saved at The Christmas Tree
97. You've been to Hampton Beach on a Saturday night.
98. Playing street hockey was a daily after school ritual.
99. Hearing an old lady shout "Numbah 96 for Sioux City !" means it's
time for steak.
100. You remember Jordan Marsh, Filene's, Grants, Bradlees, Caldor,
Zayres, or Ann & Hope and Woolworths
101. You actually get these jokes
and pass them on to other friends from Massachusetts.
You're from Mass if ... Part 3
51. You think that Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon are more evil than
52. You know who Whitey Bulger is.
53. You went to the Swan Boats,House of Seven Gables, or Plymouth
Plantation on a field trip in elementary school.
54. Bobby Orr is loved as much as Larry Bird, Tom Brady, and Ted
55. You remember Major Mudd.
56. You know what candlepin bowling is.
57. You can drive from the mountains to the ocean all in one day.
58. You know Scollay Square once stood where Government Center is.
59 . When you were a kid, Rex Trailer was the coolest guy around.
60. You can still hum the song from the end of Boom Town.
61. Calling Carrabba's an "Italian" restaurant is sacrilege.
62. You still have your old Flexible Flyer somewhere in your parents'
63. You know that the Mass Pike is some sort of strange weather dividing
64. The only time you've been on the Freedom Trail is when relatives are
65. The Big Dig tunnel disaster wasn't a surprise.
66. You call guys you've just met "Chief" or "Boss."
67. 4:15pm and pitch black out means only 3 more shopping days until
68. You know more than one person with the last name Murphy.
69. You refer to Savin Hill as "Stab 'n Kill."
70. You've never eaten at Durgin Park, but recommend it to tourists.
71. You can't look at the zip code 02134 without singing it.
72. You voted for a Republican Mormon as Governor just to screw with the
rest of the country.
73. 11 pm? Drunk? It means one thing: Kowloons!
74. 2 am? Drunk? It means one thing: Kelly's Roast Beef!
75. 5 am? Drunk? It means one thing: You wish you had a blanket in your
You're from Mass if ... Part 2
29. You know there are 6 New England states, but that Connecticut really doesn't count.
30. You give incomprehensible directions to tourists, feel bad when they drive off, but then say to yourself ,"Ah, screw them."
31. You know at least one bar where you can get something to drink after
32. You hate the Kennedys, but you vote for them anyway.
33. You know holding onto the railing when riding the Green Line is not
34. The numbers '78 and '86 make you cringe.
35. You've been to Goodtimes.
36. You think the rest of the country owes you for Thanksgiving and
Independence Day. (...and they DO).
37. You have never actually been to "Cheers."
38. The words 'WICKED' and 'GOOD' go together.
39. You' ve been to Fenway Park.
40. You've gone to at least one party at UMass.
41. You own a "Yankees Suck" shirt or hat.
42. You know what a Frappe is.
43. You've been to Hempfest.
44. You know who Frank Averuch is.
45. ADVANCED: You know Frank Averuch was once Bozo the Clown.
46. You can complete the following: "Lynn, Lynn ......"
47. You get pissed off when a restaurant serves clam chowder, and it
turns out to be Snows.
48. You actually know how to merge from six lanes of traffic down to
49. The TV weatherman is damn good if he's right 25% of the time.
50. You never go to Cape Cod," you go "down the Cape ".
You're from Mass if ...Part 1
1. The Red Sox World Series win was, and will always be, one of the greatest moments in your life.
2. The guy driving in front of you is going 70 mph and you're swearing at him for going too slow.
3. When ordering a tonic, you mean a Coke.
4. You went to Canobie Lake Park or Water Country as a kid.
5. You actually enjoy driving around rotaries.
6. You do not recognize the letter "R" as a part of the English language.
7. Your social security number starts with a 0.
8. You can actually find your way around the streets of Boston .
9. You know what a "regular" coffee is.
10. You keep an ice scraper in your car year-round.
11. You can tell the difference between a Revere accent and a Dorchester accent.
12. Springfield is located "way out west."
13. You almost feel disappointed if someone doesn't flip you the bird
when you cut them off or steal their parking space.
14. You know how to pronounce the names of towns like Worcester,
Billerica, Gloucester, Peabody and Haverhill and Methuen .
15. Anyone you don't know is a potential idiot until proven otherwise.
16. Paranoia sets in if you can't see a Dunkin Donuts or CVS Pharmacy
within eyeshot at all times.
17. You have driven to New Hampshire on a Sunday just to buy alcohol.
18. You know how to pronounce Yastrzemski.
19. You know there's a trophy at the end of the Bean Pot.
20. You order iced coffee in January.
21. You know that the Purple Line will take you anywhere.
22. You love scorpion bowls.
23. You know what they sell at a Packie.
24. Sorry Manny, but number 24 means DEWEY EVANS.
25. You know what First Night is.
26. You know at least one guy named Sean, Pat, Whitey, Red, Bud or
26a. You know how to pronounce Seamus.
27. McLobster = McCrap!
28. You know at least 2 cops in your town because they were your high
school drinking buddies.
Talkin' the Bawston talk
For those who assume that the locals all speak like John F. Kennedy, the reality of Boston's streets can be somewhat surprising. The average Bostonian is much more likely to say something like 'I cahn't find a place to paak my caah' than to wax lyrical about being a Berliner. There are Kennedy types, too, although you'll find yourself wondering if they're being entirely serious (they are, but they sure sound funny). If you want to fit in, go to Fenway Paak, try to get yourself a ticket and, in-between various epithets, try to pick up on the local lingo.
This is probably way over done but.....
Dont ask any Bostonians to say "Park your car in Harvard Yard" My mom is a REAL Bostonian, grew up in Irish Dorchester, and she has a real Boston accent, and while listening to it can be a both amusing and befuddling, Bostonians are a very proud people, as they should be! Some of the best people on earth here! They dont like to be teased about their accent!
- Business Travel
Boston has a unique accent and uses some different words. You might have some trouble understanding it your first time there. Here are a few examples:
Chowdah = chowder, as in clam chowder
Cah = car
Lahge = large
Wicked = as in "that was a wicked hahd slap shawt"
Nomah = Red Sox Shortstop
This website has some audio examples:
The websites below are entertaining and are a good guide to Boston speak:
The other website is a glossary of Boston terms.
Bet we know some things you don't know. Like, what's a three decka? A packie? How about a rotary? Ever banged a U-ey? Worn dungarees or ordered a frappe?
We'd have a pissah time tryin' to stump ya, then make fun of ya behind ya back . . . but that's wicked mean. Instead, here's a little primer to take with you on the T, or while you're on the Common or in the Gahden:
> American Chop Suey ~ This delightful dish doesn't resemble anything American or Chinese. It's macaroni with meat and tomato sauce.
> Bangin' a U-ey ~ This is what you do while driving after you miss a turn and you have to turn around.
> Book it ~ To high tail it someplace, as in, "I better book it to the packie before it closes."
> Bubblah~ Spelled bubbler, it's a water fountain.
> Down Cellar ~ The basement. Derived from upstairs.
> Dungarees ~ Jeans. Hardly heard anymore, unless you're at some sort of senior citizens event.
> Frappe ~ What the rest of the nation calls a milkshake. But in Boston, a milkshake is just flavored milk; no ice cream allowed.
> Fried and Bizarre ~ Weird. "That dude is wicked fried." "Yah, he's totally bizaah."
> Hermits ~ Cookies. A hermit is a molasses and raisin bar.
> Jimmies ~ Sprinkles you put on ice cream.
> Packie ~ Liquor Store.
> Pissah ~ Good.
> Rotary ~ traffic circle. And in Massachusetts, those in the rotary have the right of way.
> Scrod ~ a generic name for white fish. We think it's cod, but no one's sure. Usually breaded and laden with butter (or buttah, as we say).
> Three Decker ~ Pronounced three decka, it's a three story house in which each story is a separate apartment.
> Tonic ~ Soda.
> Wicked ~ Extremely. "Nomaaah's a wicked good baseball playa."
> Other tips: Don't say COPEly Square, it's COPley. Worcester isn't WOOster, it's Wisstah. And Faneuil Hall rhymes with "annual ball". Say Commonwealth Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue or Dorchester Avenue and you'll get pinched. It's Comm. Ave, Mass. Ave and Dot. Ave.
Ahhhh, the Boston brogue…
Ahhhh, the Boston brogue…here is a quick language lesson: the consonant “r” is pronounced as “ah” and the vowel “a” is pronounced as an “er” or an “r” when it is the last letter of a word. The most common examples are Park, which pronounced Pahk and Car, which is pronounced Cah. Naturally, my name (Mark) is pronounced Mahk. I work in for an Internet company where the word “data” is typically pronounced “dater” or the name “Jenna” is pronounced “Jenner.”
So, lets try something in a sentence, “What ah you retahded, you cahn’t pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd” which really translates into “What are you retarded, you can’t park the car in Harvard yard.” I have also lived in Texas with that god-awful Texas drawl, and quite frankly, I can't decide which is worse: the Texas drawl or the Boston brogue. If anyone reading this has experienced both dialects of the English language and has an opinion as to which is worse, post me your thoughts...my jury is still out!!! Anyway, when visiting Boston you will definitely be treated to the Boston Brogue, it's particularly heavy in the omnipresent Dunkin Donut shops.
I'm a transplant to Boston, so learn from my mistakes--there's some bizarre nomenclature here. The lowdown:
1) If you order a milkshake, they'll give you milk mixed with flavored syrup.
2) If you want what is called a "milkshake" in the rest of the civized world, order a "frappe."
3) But you have to pronounce it "frap."
- Food and Dining
Where's the R?
In Massachusetts and New England in general, R's are silent and sometimes appear where they shouldn't. For example (from a recent fwd):
Toboggan: Why we go to an auction
Khakis: What you need to start your car.
Propaganda: A gentlemanly goose.
Alarms : What an octupus is
Add the famous phrase: "Pack ya cah in Havud Yad (Park your car in Harvard Yard)," and you're almost there.
One more lesson: the town WORCESTER is pronounced "WISTAH," and GLOUCESTER is pronounced "GLASTAH." Not, 'Worchester' or 'Glawchester.'
Boston Glossary:cah =...
cah = car
tonic = soda or pop
squawlops = scallops
bare = beer
packie = liquor store
wicked = very (ex: 'wicked good' means excellent)
Dottie = Dorchester
Southie = South Boston (not the South End)
Townie = Someone from Charlestown
rotary = roundabout or traffic circle
The New Gahd'n = The Fleet Center, near the site of the old Boston Garden. A place for concerts and sporting events.
Big Dig = Public works project to fix the disfunctional Expressway.
The Expressway = The JFK Expressway or the portion of Route 93 that goes through town.
The Ah-tery = The Central Artery or The Expressway or the portion of Route 93 that goes through town.
The Bostonian accent is either wickedly incomprehensible or wickedly funny, depending on your perspective. Here's a snippet of conversation my friend told me about:
Friend: How do I get to Harvard Yard?
Boston bloke: Hahvid Yahd? Study real hahd. *guffaws*
While in Boston keep in mind...
While in Boston keep in mind that they speak with a New England accent. If a word ends in an 'ER', pronounce it like it ends with an 'AH'. If a word ends in an 'A', pronounce it like it ends in an 'ER'. For example, Marina is 'Mariner' and Jennifer is 'Jennifah'.
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