Seven Words New Yorkers Say Differently

July 5, 2021

Have you ever desired to spice up your words with a NY accent? You may be traveling to the area on vacation or business. You may even be planning to move there. Whatever your journey to the Big Apple may consist of, one thing is clear. You will need to learn the lingo to be able to communicate. As you learn about the unique linguistic quirks of New Yorkers, you might also be intrigued by the city’s thriving business scene; if you’re considering starting your own venture in the Big Apple, be sure to look into the advantages of forming an LLC New York to help your business thrive.

1. Nurse

If you ever find yourself coming down with a flu or need a tetanus shot, your best bet is to call on the skills of a nurse. But if you live in the city of New York, you may find yourself going a different route. You may be more comfortable calling for a “nuhse” or, in some area, even a “noyce.”

This is because the New York accent tends to change the hard “r” into something like a rough “uh” or, occasionally, an “oi.” Depending on where you live in the city, you’re bound to hear variations on this accent. Some folks sound more like the typical flat American accent while others sound much more endearingly local.

2. On

This is a very short and straightforward word that you wouldn’t think plays host to too many variations. But you may be amazed to find out just how different ways you can say a two letter word with only one active vowel. As it turns out, this is another word whose pronunciation differs according to the zip code.

Many New York dwellers will say “awwn” while others may pronounce it with an exaggerated “ahn” sound. Still others may say something that sounds a lot like “own.” It all has to do with the speed and emphasis with which the vowel “o” leaves the mouth. In some places, it’s fast. In others, it’s light speed fast.

3. Out Of

People in New York can sometimes seem to be rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off. One of the biggest tells of a New Yorker is the way that they pronounce certain simple phrases. Dwellers in the tough city of New York are very famous for their ability to cut long phrases down to an edible size.

Even a phrase as short as “out of” has been given the Big Apple treatment. As a result, you are more likely to hear “Outta” rather than anything resembling a textbook “out of.” It will be up to you to digest the fact that they do nor tend to speak the Queen’s English in any borough of New York City, even in Queens.

4. Park

How many times have you heard a New Yorker say that they spent the weekend hanging around in Central Pak? You may have been confused as to what a “pak” may be. You may have asked another resident for an explanation. They may have told you that the person meant to say “Pock ” instead of “Pak,” as if this helps.

In some areas of the city, you may hear “Pak,” “Pock,” or even “Pawk.” It all has to do with the fact that New Yorkers, much like citizens of the New England states, have a tendency to drop the “r” sound. Words that should end with “are” tend to end with “ah”, “aw”, or even “aaa” in the mouth of a New York citizen.

5. Regardless

The neutral “e” or sharp “ee” sound in the word regardless tends to turn into something like “uh” in most New York accents. This results in something like “ruh-gahd- less.” Sometimes you may hear something more like “ruh-gawd-less.”

Here and there, you’re going to happen upon the infamous “irregardless.” When you do, don’t be upset. Don’t make a fuss and don’t cause a scene. Back away slowly as soon as possible and vacate the area in an orderly manner. There is nothing to be gained by making a commotion and drawing attention to the error.

6. Remove

Remove is another word where you may not hear much of the natural “ee” sound. Instead, similar to the word regardless listed above, you’ll probably come upon someone saying “ruh-move.” You may occasionally hear a sort of nasally variation that goes something like “reh-move.”

7. River

New York City is bordered by two great rivers, the East and the Hudson. You may be looking forward to spending some time with your friends by the banks of either one. But first, you will need to be aware that your friends have never seen a river. They have spent their whole lives dwelling next to a “riv-ah.”

New Yorkers Say the Strangest Things

As can be seen in the above list, New York is a place that is known for taking liberties with the language. This results in an accent and lingo that ties people straight to the city of their birth. A few may be embarrassed but most wear it as a badge of pride. It will be up to you to learn it to fit in.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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