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How to Talk Like a Philadelphian

If you really want to blend into a new destination, you can't just try and look like a local - you've got to sound like one too! Here to help you with that for the next time you visit the City of Brotherly Love is our Philadelphia guide Susie P.

A Philadelphia accent is a rare and beautiful thing. It’s called Fluffian, a local shortcut to the proper word Philadelphian. If you come to my fair city, you need to be able to talk with people before we meet for our private tour. Here are three essential tips.

1. Adapt your vowels.

INSTEAD OF SAYING        SAY
bad                      baad, as in I feel baad
can I                    cnI, as in CnI borrow your map for a sec?
coffee                   cawfee, as in regula cawfee
dance                    daynce, as in may I have this daynce
down                     dayown, as in gayo dayown tayown
glass                    glass, one looong syllable, almost clayass
go                       gayo, as in gayo to the store
lost                     lawst, as in I’m lawst in Fluffia
loud                     layoud, as in you’re tawkin’ teoo layoud
man                      maan, as in Maan, I feel really baad
out                      ayout, as in get ayout of here
too                      teoo, as in teoo many
walk, talk               wawk, tawk, as in let’s wawk while we tawk
water                    wooder, as in CnI have a glaass a wooder

2. Convert your L’s into vowels.

INSTEAD OF SAYING       SAY
balance                          bounce
dollar                              dah-er
$5                                   fie dah-ers
ruler                               rue-er

3. Learn regional pronunciations.

INSTEAD OF SAYING       SAY
attitude                      addytude
avenue                        avenoo
beautiful                     beaudyful
Eagles                        Iggles (the football team)
Girard Avenue           Girahd Avenoo
go to the beach         go down the shore
grinders                    hoagies. They are sammiches
Passyunk Avenue     Pashyunk Avenoo
pop                            soda
straight                      shtraight
street                         shtreet
subs                           hoagies. They are sammiches

FOOTNOTE A: A steak sandwich “with or without” refers to Cheez Whiz, a processed orange-colored cheese sauce that bears no resemblance to brie, cheddar or Jarlsberg. It is, however, the dominant ingredient in a cheese-steak, a Philadelphia culinary specialty.

FOOTNOTE B: Bobos are sneakers. For decades, young men in Fluffia have lobbed sneakers over utility wires. Why? Because. Sneakers tied in pairs, hanging high over Locust Street or Lycoming Avenue, are called Bobos. (I especially love this term, because my grandmother name is Bobo.)

I am Susie P, a guide to the city I love. Interpreting my home to visitors always makes me love it more. Last summer, before I joined ToursByLocals, I met a Parisian couple who were reading a map. I answered some questions and met them the next day for a one-hour tour of Center City Philadelphia.

The tour lasted four hours – and finished with an invitation to Paris. The husband, Didier, was a gardener in the Luxembourg Gardens, where the French Senate is located. He invited me to lunch in the senate dining room, a place you cannot just choose to go. I love Paris, and I love sharing my city.
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