It used to be that you’d know a New Yorker the moment he or she began to talk. That has changed; the New York accent is dying out, as The New York Times reported. But, there are plenty of holdover phrases that point to the history of Noo Yawk tawk. Rough Guides author and native New Yorker AnneLise Sorensen takes a look at New York in translation and highlights some of the best places to experience New Yorkese.
Leaving Brooklyn? Fuggedaboudit! That’s what you’ll see on exit route signs around the borough. Though the New York accent is slowly disappearing, it still thrives in pockets of Brooklyn, particularly those with an Irish and Italian legacy. Toast the past in Bensonhurst, with an Italian feast at the classic, which has been around since 1930 – and looks like it, too. The old-world dining room, with tables topped with crisp linens, wouldn’t look out of place in the The Godfather. (In fact, neither would the waiters.) Post-dinner, head out on an Irish pub-crawl in Bay Ridge, a short cab ride away. Our favourite first stop is the Wicked Monk, and, after a Guinness (or two) you’ll no doubt agree. Is there a better borough than Brooklyn? No way – fuhgeddaboudit!
Toidy-toid ohn toid
Sure, no one says this anymore, but it captures in four words the history of the New York accent, which was once beamed into TVs across the country, thanks to shows like All in the Family. This pronunciation of “thirty-third and third” arrived courtesy of the Irish: linguists explain that the changing of “er” to “oi” comes from Gaelic. These days, you’ll occasionally hear faded versions of the accent in historic corners of the outer boroughs, and in Manhattan, a wander down “Toid” Avenue will bring you to many Irish pubs, like at 25th Street, where you might catch an old-timer breaking into New Yorkese after a couple of pints. Or, pay tribute to the bygone era at one of the city’s many speakeasy-inspired cocktail joints where you might just hear some classic New York tunes, like the 1926 Ben Ryan ditty, Down on Thoity Thoid and Thoid.