Seattle has an Accent

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 13 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

I was playing catch-up with my RSS feeds when I stumbled upon this little gem from kottke: 21 accents in 2 minutes 30 seconds.

The women, Amy Walker, pretty much does exactly what the title would suggest: 21 accents in 2 minutes 30 seconds. No surprise there. Skip forward (or just wait, because the rest of her accents are actually pretty good) to 1:45 and you’ll get the Seattle accent.

Now, up until this time, I was never aware that Seattle had it’s own distinct accent. As it turns out, Seattle may. I found a 2005 article by the Seattle PI (that would be “Post-Intelligencer” for all you non-natives), Contrary to belief, local linguists say Northwest has distinctive dialect, that reports that “Jennifer Ingle, a 27-year-old Ballard native and student of language at the University of Washington” did a study on the Northwests’ distinct accent:


Say “caught” and “cot” out loud. If you’re a true Northwest speaker, the words will sound identical. Linguists call this the “low-back merger” because we’ve merged these two vowel sounds. On much of the East Coast, these same words will sound different. “Creaking is a way of making those distinctions that are being lost,” Wassink said. Just as Bostonians tend to compensate in their speech for removing the “r” from many words, she said, we might speak creaky to compensate for refusing to use both vowels.


3 thoughts on “Seattle has an Accent”

  1. Ha ha ha! The California accent right before Puget Sound was dead on. CA=more nasal and they tend to growl at the end of words, WA=softer, vowels more drawn out yet still flat, and no growl. So, my name is DeeAnn, and you don’t know how many times people in other parts of the country-New York, Utah, California, Virginia, hear that as Dionne. That alone tells me that I have a Puget Sound accent, even though to my ears I’m saying the perfect American nasal short A sound. I also say “offen” and drop “ing” endings (terrible habit). While I do say sahrry, I say neither tomohrrow nor tomahrrow, but tomohrrrroh. I think we have a drawn out r as well as that drawn out s (which I’d never noticed, but it’s true). People in NY made fun of how I said “car” as “caerrr” deep in the back of my throat. Try it. If you’re from PS, I bet you do, too. Also, people on the east coast don’t use “way” and “clear” as extra adverbs on a regular basis. “Oh, he lives way over there” and “She lives clear over on the other side of town.” Then again, that sounds like a western cowboy influence to me, dialectally speaking. Anyway, Seattle be hanged…T Town rules!

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