Baltimore and D.C. accents

Josh Lalonde   Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:02 am GMT
What are the accents of Baltimore and Washinton D.C. like? They seem to be right in the crossroads between the South and the Northeast. Are they cot-caught merged? Mary-merry-marry/hurry-furry/Sirius-serious merged?
Lazar   Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:20 am GMT
I think the Dialect Survey ( ) may be of some help here.

Maryland seems to be predominately Tory-torrent merged, hurry-furry merged, and serious-Sirius merged. The state is 77% cot-caught unmerged. DC seems to be basically similar regarding these issues, with 75% cot-caught unmerged.

Here are the results for Mary-merry-marry:

57% full 3M merger
8% full 3M distinction
21% Mary-merry merger only
1% merry-marry merger only
14% Mary-marry merger only

47% full 3M merger
17% full 3M distinction
18% Mary-merry merger only
1% merry-marry merger only
16% Mary-marry merger only
Caitlin   Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:34 am GMT
I just thought this was particularly funny: I pronounce every group of the words the same. For example, cot-caught/Mary-merry-marry/hurry-furry. There is no difference between the pronunciation for each group of words, and I really do think it's curious that other people say each word differently. It makes me wonder how they say it! :)
Kess   Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:32 am GMT
try here:


Baltimore's dialect shares many characteristic pronunciations and words with its northern neighbor Philadelphia. One of these is the long o in words like home, which is very fronted, pronounced something like eh-oo. Otherwise, as we might expect, Baltimore's speech shows a distinctly Southern character. The diphthong oi is flattened to aw: bawl (boil), spawled (spoiled), as is long i before r: far (fire), arn (iron).''
melanie   Sat Jun 02, 2007 4:00 pm GMT
Kess, are you from Maryland?
Josh Lalonde   Sat Jun 02, 2007 4:09 pm GMT
I read that Wikipedia page, but it didn't help much. What about non-rhoticism and {-tensing? Do they occur in Baltimore? How about the NCVS? Southern Shift? Mergers before /l/? It would be nice if I could find a scholarly description of the accent, but cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia seem to be overshadowed by Boston and New York when it comes to accent description.
Ryan   Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:10 pm GMT
NCVS map

Non-rhoticity map

Mergers before /l/

{ tensing

As for the Southern Shift, you can read this chapter , but as there doesn't seem to be any real glide deletion of /AI/ in the Baltimore area, which is the first stage of the Southern Shift, I would say no to that one.