The Great Debate: Which Way is the “Right” Way to Speak?

Without even realizing it, you are slowly being introduced to a way of speaking that is unique to the rest of the world. You don’t even realize that you have an “accent” until you take a step in another country or even in another state. For me, it only took a four hour drive north to see a drastic change in the way I speak versus the way that the natives to central New York speak. Words and phrases that are so normal at home result in wide-eyed glares and, on the occasion, me being asked to repeat myself because they don’t understand what I am saying. After living here for three years it has not become any easier to try and conform to the way of speaking that is so natural to the people of central New York. There are some things that stand out more than others. Even coming from one state over, it is a big enough difference that still leads to the, “can you say that one more time?” Here are a few differences between the central New York dialect and that of my home state of Connecticut:

Being a softball player, one of the biggest debates I have had with my teammates is whether or not the phrase is to “play catch” or to “have a catch.” Coming from Connecticut, I have always grown up saying “have a catch”, so when I heard my coach tell me to go “play” catch it definitely took me off guard. Catch is not really a game so I tend to argue that you cannot “play” it. Throwing is just a portion of the whole game of softball. Over the past three years, this argument has come up a number of times, and being only one of three players on the team that does not live in New York, I tend to lose this battle.

Smiling Person Holding Gray Stainless Steel CanNext would be the word Aunt. The majority of my friends at school pronounce it as “ant” like the insect. I have always grown up pronouncing it the long way, almost like I’m saying, “Awwnt.” Out of every difference in dialect I run into, this is definitely the one that makes people ask me to repeat myself the most frequent. I forget that those who are native to this area do not frequently hear the word “aunt” pronounced like that, so when I say it I get the look as if I am not even speaking the same language.

Another phrase I get some hard glares from is the word, “grinder.” Back home, we have tons of grinder shops, with my all time favorite being right down the street from my house. Grinders are the New York equivalence of a sub or a sandwich (but much better obviously.) I try and catch myself when I go to order a grinder when I’m at school because the majority of the time, no one will know what I am talking about when I ask for an italian combo grinder with everything on it.

While there are plenty of different languages around the world, there are plenty of accents and phrases within our own country. It is so interesting to hear the different ways that people speak and see the different norms that are found in various societies. You really never know what someone else’s life is like until you take a step in their shoes, even if that means you have to order a sub instead of a grinder.