December 03, 2013

San Francisco Urban

From the notes to a US “dialect map” that is making the rounds, on “San Francisco Urban”:

Unlike the rest of California, which in the early twentieth century saw an influx of people from the South and other parts of the West, San Francisco continued to be settled by people from the Northeast and Northern Midwest, and elements of their dialects (North Midland, Upper Midwestern, Inland Northern) can be found. The Mission dialect, spoken by Irish Catholics in a specific part of the city, is very much like the New York City dialect.
My dad grew up in the Irish Catholic Mission, and I noticed a bit of this in his speech and that of his family when I was a kid, but it was mostly in the pronunciation of certain words. And now that I’m trying to list them I realize it was mostly the same sound, the one in “bought” “thought” “dog” “Santa Claus,” etc. Beyond that, I never heard anyone whose overall speech could be mistaken for “New York City dialect.” And it certainly cannot be the case nowadays.

Probably, though, like Wagner’s music, there’s more to a dialect than how it sounds, like vocabulary, turns of phrase, cadence, intonation, that kind of thing. I’d like to know more about these more abstruse similarities, because it’s pretty interesting.

Posted by Dr. Frank at December 3, 2013 03:59 PM