Friday, May 26, 2006

How to speak Chicago

Everywhere I go, whether it’s Austin Texas, Atlanta Georgia, or Fire Island XIV on Planet Hacknor, I get people who talk to me about where I live.

Any time I tell someone that I live in the Windy City, their first reaction is to say “Chicago! Bang Bang!” or to ask me about Al Capone. Yes, evidently Chicago is still overrun by early 20th Century bootleggers.

Eventually, we get past that and maybe we talk about other things in Chicago. Yes, the Cubs are still bad, but the White Sox are now good. No, I’ve never met Michael Jordan personally. Yes, the pizza and the hot dogs are that good.

Sometimes, my new friends want to learn how to speak like a real Chicagoan, and sometimes, if they’re lucky, I’ll show them how.

Today is your lucky day.

There are two basic guidelines to follow when attempting to speak Chicago:

1. Get a hook.

2. Lazy Th’s.

I'll start with the lazy Th’s first. We use D’s in place of Th’s almost all the time. Da Bears, da Bulls, dat guy over dere, dis guy’s da guy. I know in New York, they do that with the Th’s as well, but when we do it, it sounds charming and colloquial. Incidentally, yelling “Da Bears!” and “Da Bulls!” is played out. Very played out.

Now for your hook, it has to be something that you can easily use to get you into the accent. This is mine: hot dogs and sausage. Say it like this: hat dahgs and sahsatch. Don’t go too heavy on the pronunciation, just have it hang somewhere between the proper Midwest sound and the way it’s spelled above.

Those are the basics; of course, there’s a big difference between certain areas of Chicagoland. Citizens of the South Side generally have the thickest accent, with the S at the end of words sounding like S, not Z, and it gets less noticeable as you go North. So you start down by 95th and Western with “Da beerss, da bratss and da Bearss,” and as you get into Winetka, it sounds more like “The sherry, the brie, at the Ravinia.”

Dere you go, dat was your lesson in how to speak Chicago. I think dat with a little practice, you’ll be good at and enjoy speaking like dis. Go ahead, give it a try.


flu said...

Hu's kow was dat?

Hu's kow starded dat frikkin huge far ways back?

Aw, cmon, yous nose da one I meen.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Yeah, dat cow did a real nummer on der city dere, yeah hey dere.

Ooops, that wasn't Chicago, that was Wisconsin farmer.

Dark Jedi Kriss said...

Hey, my alter ego is for da south, bro. Dats one southren gal dere! Diss anit easy! LOL! thanks fur da lesson.

Anonymous said...

I dont need an accent I have spent to long trying to get rid of the one I have

Like excuse me while I go brush my H(air)er
t (I) rer

Im fitten to
I wouldnt worry about that th(air)er

I retum I guess
okay so my discription may not be as good...

When you said Chicago Jo I thought music... I always think Blues and Jazz when I hear Chicargo the windy city

panthergirl said...

I LOVE Chicaaaaaago. We have an office there and I've had some of the most incredible business trips. I always stay at Swissotel and eat at great restaurants. I love sitting outside the Aquarium (or better yet, inside for the dolphin show with the Lake as your backdrop!). I love Centennial Park and those amazing walls of water.

I'm a diehard New Yorker, but Chicago is definitely right up there for me in terms of the cities I love (Toronto is 3rd)

Here via michele!

Juggling Mother said...

yawl sound funny to me. why don't you talk proper like what I does?

The only thing I know about Chicago is that apparently it is always snowing there - or that's how it appears on tv & films:-)

here from michele today

Sue said...

Dang, dat's how my Canadian Dad talks too :) -- Hello from Michele

Wedge Antillies said...

I moved to Chicago from LA many years ago, so I did pick up a little accent. When I traveled back to SoCal, people would tell me that I was talking funny. But yes, Jon, it does have a sound all it's own.

I never did get to see da Bulls or Jordan, but I did go see da bears at Soldier Field before da refurb job, ya know?

An youse guys gotta go see da Cubs at Wrigley. It's da old-time baseball experience. Go Illinoise!

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Yep, Soldier's Field now looks like dat spaceship crashed on da Colluseum.

A Army Of (Cl)One said...

Ah yes, the fun of regional dialects. My cousins on the upper east coast tease me about my "accent". When I had them do my voice, they just said everything clearly and enunciated. So I guess I speak American TV English. They are split between the New England long aaaa’s and the Bronx/Jersey “youse guyes” things.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I had a buddy in the Army with a thick, thick Bostonian accent and another with a Indiana accent (pronounces R's all over the place).

When anyone asked Bob what happened to the "R" in his car, he would reply that it's in Jeff's Warsh.

Dara said...

Hey, do you know Oprah? (grin) Michele sent me.

A Army Of (Cl)One said...

My boss, who is a thrid generation central valley farmer, sound normal except when he say almonds (amonds) and Washington (warshington. I still can not figure that out.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Datss un-Dinkable...! No. dat doesn't work does it? Very funny Jon....

I'm here from Michele's today and lovely to M&G you...Datssss All Folkssss

Chrissie said...

Here from Michelle's.
Cool lesson - thanks.
I speak Bostonian and live in Virginia so I get it all the time!

Professor Xavier said...

Hello, my name is Charles Xavier. I am from Chicago.

There. How was my accent? Could you feel the Chicago?

Dear AL said...

Hey! Your comment visual verification is working now!

Hi, Michele sent me, and you!

If you want to sound like a New Yorker, pronouce your TH's D, F, or V. Perfect that and you'll fit right in!

How do you know I'm not Liddy Wales? said...

Funny thing is... my mother actually talks like that. Really.

Local Henchmen 432 said...

We from New York...I got nothing..Dental for all.

Dr.Polaris rules.

Anonymous said...

Been away drom Chicago for 15 yrs now, and I do miss da dawgs.

Little peppers, mustard,tomato,....

I'll be dere in about 5 hrs.

Kristi said...

Hey Jon - send me down some Tommy's Red Hots, will ya?

When I lived oversease and would tell people I was from a small town about two hours south of Chicago, the FIRST thing they would always mention was Al Capone. (rolls eyes)

Oh, by the way... White Sox rule! :D

Kristi said...

ack! oversease = overseas. Evil typos!

Carmi said...

You and I will need to speak the next time I fly to Chicago. I'll need a primer on language and diction.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Dat's great! Danks far da lesson!