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Is this a Washington State thing?


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I have not had a lot of contact in my life with people from Washington State but I recently heard (separately) two people from Washington State speak.  They both did something that I can best describe as squishing some of their words and both of them sometimes used certain facial expressions when speaking or a certain emphaticness in their facial expressions that I wondered if they were related because it made them look so similar.  They are not likely related but what I’m asking is does anyone know what I’m talking about or is it my imagination?  Do people in this area have a special way of pronouncing or squishing some words or syllables?  

I’ve always been interested in subtle accents.

 

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3 minutes ago, Teaching3bears said:

I have not had a lot of contact in my life with people from Washington State but I recently heard (separately) two people from Washington State speak.  They both did something that I can best describe as squishing some of their words and both of them sometimes used certain facial expressions when speaking or a certain emphaticness in their facial expressions that I wondered if they were related because it made them look so similar.  They are not likely related but what I’m asking is does anyone know what I’m talking about or is it my imagination?  Do people in this area have a special way of pronouncing or squishing some words or syllables?  

I’ve always been interested in subtle accents.

 

Everybody swishes words, all regions, so no I don’t think that is a local trait. Facial expressions and gestures can be regional, but I think every region has that too. 
So, no, doing these things isn’t unique to Washington….And yes, there are certain things that fit in this category that are from WA. 🤪

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I have lived in WA my whole life and I don't think I would notice an accent from here because it is my normal.  Maybe if I knew what words or facial expressions?  Also, WA is a big(ish) state with a lot of local personalities and ways of doing/saying things.  So someone from one of the bigger cities may be a bit different than the rural people, and east and west side of the cascades makes a difference too.

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Any particular words you noticed people squishing together?  
 

There’s definitely a western WA accent that I have noticed.  Because I was born in Texas and my family isn’t from WA (mom is from Kentucky, dad is from Denver) + I had to have 10+ years of speech therapy, I notice the WA accent even though I’ve lived here most of my life.  My husband is from Spokane though and their speech patterns are a little different.  People ask me what my accent is all the time and I tell them it’s speech therapy accent.  

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I grew up in western Washington (all up and down the western side). Since moving away, the only time people notice an accent is when I pronounce "bag" or "bagel". Apparently the "a" sound I make in those words sounds odd to anyone who grew up elsewhere. To everyone else, it sounds closer to a short e. 

Washingtonians do tend to speak more quickly. It's not as fast as Gilmore Girls, but definitely more rapid than any other place I've lived.

For what it's worth, I have heard that western Washington has the least accent in all of America, and people (radio, tv, etc.) are sent there to lose their accent.

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My paternal grandparents were born in Washington, and I've lived in the Seattle area my whole life.  I have no idea what you're talking about.    (Though I do recall standing in line in an airport in front of two elderly ladies and being certain they came from Missouri due to their accents sounding just like my maternal grandmother.  - they did.)

There are distinct geographic regions in the state, that could produce their own accents.

You might find Eric Singer interesting.  He did an in depth "tour" of US/North American accents in three parts.  (well four - he starts into Canada).  In part 3, at the 3:56 mark, he starts on the Pacific Northwest.  (which really wasn't broken down the way so many other areas were.)

(I do recommend his series.  He brought in some other linguists for specific subgroups which have their own accent sounds).

In the Northern US sections - he talked about a change currently underway that could be as significant as the great vowel shift.

Edited by gardenmom5
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Another western WA gal here. The two things I’ve received comments about are the aforementioned bag/bagel pronunciation, and “swallowed” Ts in the middle of words like mitten. I don’t swallow my Ts to the extent of my friend from Chicago though—she had a heck of a time explaining to her Swedish exchange hosts that she was majoring in Latin. “La’in” was completely indecipherable to them. Lol

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My husband and mother-in-law are WA natives, and I’m a transplant from CA.   There are a couple of words that mg mother-in-law uses that jump out at me, but it’s just these words, not a whole accent that I notice.

Potato: She says “Puh-tay-tuh.” I say “Poe-tay-toe.”

Cashew: She says “Ca-shew” with an emphasis on the second syllable.  I say “Cash-you” with about equal emphasis on each syllable.

She puts a similar emphasis on the second syllable of Tofu.  I don’t.

And of course the roly-poly versus potato-bug issue, but that’s usage not pronunciation. 

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As to linguists deciding what your accent is-I have a funny story.  When I went on a college tour when I was deciding on colleges, there was a linguist and his son also on the tour.  He heard me speaking and asked me if I was from West Virginia.  No, I wasn't and had never lived there.  I was born in DC and moved to nearby VA suburbs by the time I was 2 but didn't speak English until I learned in kindergarten (NIH doctor's recommendation).  My parents were Polish, but I have no foreign accent at all.  

But then I am a natural mimic so my way of speaking changes based on whom I am speaking with.

I have only visited WA state for vacation twice and I didn't notice anything odd about the speech.  

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29 minutes ago, TravelingChris said:

As to linguists deciding what your accent is-I have a funny story.  When I went on a college tour when I was deciding on colleges, there was a linguist and his son also on the tour.  He heard me speaking and asked me if I was from West Virginia.  No, I wasn't and had never lived there.  I was born in DC and moved to nearby VA suburbs by the time I was 2 but didn't speak English until I learned in kindergarten (NIH doctor's recommendation).  My parents were Polish, but I have no foreign accent at all.  

But then I am a natural mimic so my way of speaking changes based on whom I am speaking with.

I have only visited WA state for vacation twice and I didn't notice anything odd about the speech.  

Interesting!  My mom spoke only Polish until kindergarten and also had no foreign accent at all.  

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