Saturday, September 13, 2008

Listening to San Francisco

I spent the day with Paula's extended family, and it hit me: these people talk crazy!

It's the "Mission" accent. It exists in ever decreasing pockets of the city (most folks aren't even aware it exists), and it's the old Irish/Italian working class accent of San Francisco.

It's like a mild Brooklyn accent with broad midwestern vowels. For example, Paula's grandfather Mario says "sure" as "shor". Paula's mom has a very mild one, while Paula's (or Pawl-uh) recently deceased grandma Tilly had the thickest expression of it.

In the San Francisco I operate in day-to-day, the dominate accent is the flat American Midland accent, the voice of CNN. It's a transitory city, North of the Slot (the slot is the cable car track that bisects the length of Market Street, separating Downtown and the business district from the residential districts)... people commute in from Marin and the East Bay, or live Gentrified enclaves, but South of the Slot, where I spent today is San Francisco. I was a little bit sad that less and less of that old San Francisco will be heard.

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