How To Speak with a New York Dialect

New Yorkers have a way of speaking that is distinctly New York. You’re probably fascinated with the way they talk at the Big Apple, perhaps from what you’ve seen in the movies or TV. After all, New York is one of the most popular places depicted in the media.

The New York dialect and accent have been built upon by ethnic influences from the influx of immigrants from Europe as far back from the earliest English and Dutch settlements, to the Irish, German, Scottish and Nordic influences in the 1800s. Further on, Jewish and Italian influences have also contributed to the way New Yorkers speak.

While a New York accent would take years to develop, you can try incorporating some of its characteristics into the way you speak.

  • Omit of some consonants like R, the ending G and others. One of the most distinct characteristics of the New York accent is the way some of the end consonants are omitted. For instance, the “r” at the end of words is almost never spoken. “River” is spoken as “riva,” and “here” is said like “hea.” “Being” is spoken as “bein.’” Meanwhile, the end “th” is usually spoken more like a “d” rather than “th.” Similarly, these consonants are sometimes omitted when in the middle. For instance, “park” would be pronounced as “pahk.”
  • Make the G intrusive between words. However, while in most English pronunciation, NG is pronounced as a nasal sound as in “long,” the New York accent would have the G as a prominent, intrusive sound in between words. For instance, “Long Island” would be pronounced as “Lon Guiland,” with the G being very distinct.
  • Say the vowel O as long, spoken as AW. New Yorkers with thick accents often speak the long O as “aw”. So “dog” would be spoken like “dawg.” “Short” would be spoken as “shawrt.”
  • Speak the vowel A as lengthened and laid back. This means that in words with the “a” normally spoken as an “aw” like “father,” the “a” almost becomes like a lengthened “a,” spoken with the mouth wide open as in “eah.”
  • Speak similarly to an Italian accent. Because of the Italian influences, the New York accent can sometimes be very similar to speaking with an Italian accent, so familiarity with this type of speech would help if you want to start speaking like a New Yorker.
  • Pay attention to syntax. Moreover, speaking like a New Yorker does not only involve the accent, but also the manner of speaking. For instance, in asking questions, the original syntax of a question is preserved in indirect questions, rather than being inverted, as with common usage. For instance, a New Yorker would say “I want to know why don’t you like it,” instead of saying “I want to know why you don’t like it.” Note the difference between “don’t you” and “you don’t.”

Lastly, speaking like a New Yorker has something to do with attitude and character. New Yorkers are known to be forward and opinionated. It’s not about what you say, but rather in how you say it. With much practice, you would be talking like characters from The Sopranos or Godfather!


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