How to Speak With a Baltimore Accent

by eHow Culture & Society Editor

If you want to fit in with the natives on your next trip to Baltimore you'll have to get an ear for the dialect they speak in many neighborhoods in "Bawlmer," as the locals call their city. The accent comes from the combination of Baltimore's English colonial settlers with influxes of Irish, German and European immigrants, but "Bawlmerese" isn't just an accent, it's part of the whole "hon" culture.

Practice calling people "hon" until it sounds natural to use the word for strangers, no matter their gender or age.

Know that you aren't speaking with a Baltimore, Maryland, accent, but a "Bawlmer, Merlin," accent.

Refer to groups of more than two people as "yoose all."

Flatten out many vowel sounds to "ah," especially a long "i" before the letter "r," so you pronounce "fire" and "iron" as "far" and "arn." Also flatten out the "oy" sound in words like "boil" and "spoil" to "aw," so you say "bawl" and "spawl."

Maintain good hygiene before eating by "worshing and wrenching" your hands, or "washing and rinsing" them, and do it in the "baffroom zink." Then sit down to your "breffist" of "aigs and arnjuice."

Pretend the middle consonants of many words just aren't there and blur the vowels together. To ask someone if they have eaten, just ask, "Jeet?" Or find out if they are finished eating with "jeet-nuf?" Take a trip to "Hawntin," known on maps as "Highlandtown," or to "Lit Litlee," which non-residents call Little Italy. Count to a "hunnert," call your forehead your "fard," or wait until "tuhmar" to do what you don't want to do today.

Express your opinion about just about anything with the all-purpose word, "s'aw-ite," which can convey everything from rapture to disgust, depending on your inflection and your facial expression.

Tip

  • Study the accents in John Waters movies such as "Hairspray" and "Pink Flamingos," which are set in Baltimore and make extensive use of Bawlmerese.

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