Editor’s Note: This post first appeared September 19, 2010.
CHICAGO – One of the funniest things I’ve heard in many years was said to me by a co-worker, a lifelong Chicagoan.
“There’s no such thing as a Chicago accent,” he said.
I laugh every time I think of it.
Of course, like everyone else who grew up here, he pronounced “Chicago” as “Shuh-CAW-go,” and, as well-educated as he is, I bet that after a beer or two, he would have said “dere” and “t’ing.”
He said it with a straight face, and he meant it. (Not like the Facebook group, “There is no such thing as a Chicago accent!,” which appears to have been started by individuals who, in fact, believe the opposite.)
“Dis’s hayer sapose ta tawk. Dis’s narmal. Ever’wun eltz tawks funny.”
All right, now I’m exaggerating. And I’d agree that there is no such thing as the Chicago accent. There are, of course, several. It’s a very diverse city. Ukrainians and African-Americans and Vietnamese and Assyrians and Bosnians all have their own accents. As do Uptown Kentuckians and the few remaining Andersonville Swedes. The most prominently parodied Chicago accent is a dialect that is mainly found among the white working class – specifically, white working class individuals who were born and raised here. Due to demographic changes, that accent is quite noticeably on the decline.