Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Speaking "Rat"

Printculture's C Bush grew up speaking English with a Rochester/Chicago accent, affectionately called "Rat."
If you aren’t sure what the accent sounds like, you might, the article suggests, recall Detective Sipowicz from NYPD Blue, played by Chicago native Dennis Franz. Or, for a less ethnographically pure, but perhaps easier to recollect example: the beer-toting fans of da Bairs from Saturday Night Live during the 90s.

He talks about the trouble he had adapting once he moved out of "Ratland." He mastered saying "soda" instead of "pop," but he couldn't get "bagel":
Much harder was my mysteriously wrong pronunciation of “bagel,” which I would sometimes have mimicked back at me by friends. It was good-natured fun for them, but genuinely perplexing for me because I just couldn’t hear the difference. Anyone who has studied Chinese knows this experience: “No, silly, it's not not ma. It's ma!” All the difference in the world to those who have ears to hear, but crazy-making to those who don’t. I eventually figured those out too.
"Crazy-making." Love it. I was OK with Mandarin tones, but I don't have the ears for Taiwanese ones at all.

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