Native Washingtonian Accent

Q   Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:48 am GMT
Is it true that you can tell a native Washingtonian accent from a transplant accent by someone's pronunciation of the words "sorry", "tomorrow" and "bag"? I've noticed that native Washingtonians (at least in the Spokane area) pronounce "sorry" as "sahree", "tomorrow" as "tomohrow" and "bag" as something closer to but usually not the same as "beg" whereas many people not born and bred here (even people from places like Oregon or Canada say them differently) or have not assimilated into the new accent pronounce them differently. Has anyone else noticed this?

I can spot "foreigners" by:
I can usually tell someone transplanted from Oregon or California (sahree, tomahrow, [b{g]) or the midwest (sahree, tomahrow; or sohree, tomohrow; or sowahree, tomowahrow, or other variation combined with no cot-caught merger, and usually NCVS, as well as either consistent Canadian raising or none at all) or Canada (sohree, tomohrow, and consistent Canadian raising on both /aI/ and /aU/ (except for Vancouver where it's only on /aU/, or no Canadian raising at all))
Guest   Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:35 am GMT
There is no Washingtonian accent per se. The most common accent spoken in Washington State is General American. General American is spoken in most of the western and mid-western United States and is even gaining ground in New York City as more Mid-Westerners migrate there. In Oklahoma, General American has considerably eroded the native Southern Midlands accent spoken there, a process which began right after World War II.

Some linguists place the accent of Eastern Washington in the Northern Inland area which extends as far east as upstate New York. However, I have noticed no significant differences between the way someone from Spokane sounds and someone from Seattle. People in the two cities differ more in their politics than their accents with Seattle being a liberal Democratic stronghold and Spokane being very much a part of Reagan-Bush country.

However, sometimes even within a single regional variety of English there are still some differences in pronunciation and lexicon. For example, in Seattle, one hears both awf-tin" and awf-in" for "often" ; "roohf" and "rUf" for "roof" ; sump-thing, sump-thin' and sump'n for "something"; both "gas station" and "filling station" for a place where you fill up your car with gasoline; both "crow" and "blackbird" for the common crow etc.
Q   Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:53 am GMT
Yeah, I know there's no official Washingtonian accent, and you're right it's pretty darn close to General American, but I do notice some distinctive features (probably shared with Idaho and Montana). Like the way we say "bag"--it's not exactly the same [{] sound as in words like "bad", it's a little closer to "beg", but it's not the same as that either. But what I'm saying is that I can usually recognize a distinct northern Pacific Northwest accent that's different from other places. I can usually tell if someone is not originally from here--even if they're from Oregon or Canada.

I was wondering how well my method works for telling a Northwest accent. Are they're other states/regions that meet the same criteria?: Does anyone from somewhere else say these words like we do here in WA?

-sorry = sahree
-tomorrow = tomohrow
-bag = different "a" sound than in "bad" almost like the "e" in beg, but still distinct from "beg"
-ban = same [{] "a" sound as in "bad"
-cot/caught = the same
-no consistent Canadian raising
Kelly   Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:36 pm GMT
''Canadian accents are always recognizable on the U.S. side of the border ''

Yes, but in the Nova Scotia / Maine case, Nova Scotia English is much closer to General American than Maine English.
Q   Sat Oct 21, 2006 11:37 pm GMT
>> Yes, but in the Nova Scotia / Maine case, Nova Scotia English is much closer to General American than Maine English. <<

Yeah, I can imagine. People from Maine have a really nasal accent.
Q   Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:33 am GMT
Also, I think the same could be said of Toronto vs. New York.