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Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

What's the California accent?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7887points) October 8th, 2010

It seems like every region of the U.S. has an accent. New York, Boston, Philly, The South in general….. So what’s California’s? How do they say certain things?

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22 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Here is an audio sample of Valley Girl speak.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Aesthetic Mess Well, in certain areas, yes. California is a huge state. Admittedly it’s exaggerated in the movie, but when I’m letting it all hang out so to speak there’s definitely a hint of Jeff Spicoli in my voice. (I’m from SoCal)

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

lol That’s an interesting accent then

stratman37's avatar

or if you ask the governor, Austrian!

FutureMemory's avatar

@marinelife That girl doesn’t have an accent, she sounds totally normal to me ;)

Jude's avatar

A Canadian here who doesn’t hear the California accent.

Deja_vu's avatar

In Hawaii, if you don’t speak hawaiian pigeon either you have a local pigeony accent or a California accent… shit, I think I have the California accent. Lots of Californians here. That’s for damn sure.

muppetish's avatar

We do have a few accents here, but I have no idea how to describe them.

The only thing I can offer is what has been driving my phonetics professor nuts: we have a tendency to change our ”ə” (as in but) sounds into “I” (as in sit) sounds. So when our class pronounced “carrot” we said “care-it” and not “care-ut” (and, worse on our professor’s ears, some said “care-et”.) We pronounced “circus” similarly (“circ-is” and not “circ-us”). I had no idea that I did this until our professor noted it.

Other things that she noted: we pronounce “Larry” and “Mary” as rhymes with “merry” (I can’t even pronounce it the other way), the vowel sound ”ɔ” is pretty much absent so “cot” and “caught” are homophones. There’s some really interesting information about the accent and regional phrases on the Wikipedia page.

I rarely bump into anyone who speaks like the “surfer dude” stereotype, but I have met more than a few people who are close to the “valley girl” one. Either way, people from Southern California don’t really sound that way… but we do have a manner of speaking.

I say both “dude” and “totally”, like, all the time. That’s vocabulary, though, and not accent. I pronounce words quite differently from the stereotypes.

GeorgeGee's avatar

There are many with California. In addition to the surfer dude and valley girl @muppetish mentioned, the most significant one is the California Chicano accent.

marinelife's avatar

@FutureMemory You have to listen, The Valley Girl speak is after the first person reading the document.

lucifer's avatar

ANY accent you’d ever wanna hear, ALL done by one person :D

tinyfaery's avatar

@muppetish That’s the best explanation ever of the California accent.

FutureMemory's avatar

@marinelife I meant the 2nd one :)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Ok, according to @muppetish I have a California accent. Who knew?

DominicX's avatar

There isn’t really one “California accent”. @muppetish gave a good description of some of the phonetic trends in California speakers. Another one I would add is the unrounding of vowels. So “oo” is said with the lips less round, sounding more like “ew”. My Russian cousin says I talk like that, say things like “trewth” or “fewd” instead of truth and food. It’s not as extreme as that, but the “oo” sound is less rounded among many California speakers. The cot-caught merger is definitely present. My mom says them differently, interestingly enough, but I’ve always said them the same.

Megan64's avatar

I think also Californians tend to elongate words and stretch them out as they speak. I also notice the tendency to end sentences as if they were questions.

I’m from Central CA, SF.

muppetish's avatar

@DominicX I spent several minutes testing a variety of words with a “u” vowel… that’s another one that I hadn’t thought about before. I am quite inconsistent! I round “through”, “knew”, and “stew” but have that peculiar “ew” sound when enunciating “dude”, “crude”, ‘lewd” and “prude” (as well as both “food” and “truth”.)

@Megan64 I’m absolutely guilty of elongating words (especially “what?” and “well…” In general, when I trail off, I’ll hold the last word for a while as I collect my thoughts.) The portion about ending sentences with a question-rise reminds me of a friend from Australia. Her accent was similar in that regard.

@tinyfaery Thanks :) I wasn’t sure whether my post was going to make any sense. Glad it did, though!

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