North Shore Accents vs. South Shore Accents

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Above: Seth Meyers demonstrates a “tour de force of dropped Rs” in Boston Accent. Don’t be like Seth. Read on…

What distinguishes North Shore and South Shore die-hards? Some would say it’s the way they talk. And yet it’s hard to place a finger on what, exactly, separates the two accents. For Thom Jones, a longtime dialect coach and head of voice and speech at Brown University, it’s all about vocal placement—that is, where the voice “lives” in a speaker’s body. Jones says North Shore residents are likely to have more-forward vocal placements, which resonate in the face and head and cause speakers to sound more nasal than their South Shore counterparts, who have glottal placements that resonate more in the throat. John McCarthy—a linguistics expert at UMass Amherst—points out that there can also be noticeable differences in vowel pronunciation. Below, our quick-hit guide to talking the talk of both shores.

Word: “Cot”

North Shore Pronunciation: Caw-t

South Shore Pronunciation: Cah-t

Word: “North”

North Shore Pronunciation: Naw-th

South Shore Pronunciation: Nore-th

Word: “Aunt”

North Shore Pronunciation: Ahn-t

South Shore Pronunciation: An-t

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