If you're from Philadelphia, your preferred non-Yuengling beverage is wooder. If you're from New York City, your greatest enemies are the bridge-and-tunnel crowd from Lawng Island. If you're from Los Angeles, you respond to people who hop on the 405 at rush hour with a pained "Whyy-ee?"
No matter who you are, you all sound disgusting.
American accents are changing and and flattening. The brash Philadelphia accent, the distinct Texas twang, and even the ballsy New York squawk could soon disappear, mating with blander vocal patterns in neighboring regions.
This may be a gift to our ears, but it comes at a cost. Where will we be when Georgians no longer sound Suthern and Scrantonians can't protest the konsteetooshun?
Before we lose the drawl that makes Texans Texans and the lazy slack that makes yinzers yinzers, we're presenting one chance to revel in and celebrate the title of America's Ugliest Accent.
Sixteen American cities have been chosen and seeded according to an authoritative and scientific evaluation of ugliness. The reward for the winner of the accent tournament (your city/region/if you self-identify as that accent-haver) is not only pride and a pat on the back from me at the Gawker office, extended through a very long pole. You will also be entitled to calling the cell phone of editor-in-chief Max Read for one twenty-four hour period until the entirety of Ulysses has been read into his voicemail inbox. We will preserve your accent on a CD-R and bury it in a time capsule in an undisclosed location beneath the New York City streets, to be discovered by our alien Californian ancestors far in the ugly future.
This week's round of 16 kicks off with two terrifying battles: Boston (1) vs. Baltimore (16) and Los Angeles (9) vs. Chicago (8).
Vote in the Polldaddy Poll below each matchup. After 24 hours, the winner by vote will advance to the next round.
If you've ever caught the major motion picture The Departed or heard a local Beantown resident say—lol—that they'd like to park the car in the Harvard Yard, you know that Boston has a serious problem and it isn't just that it sucks. Boston is our number-one seeded ugliest accent because not only does it remind us of Ben Affleck (get a load of this guy), it's impossible to understand and sounds like fucking your cousin at a little league field.
Notable Boston accents: the Kennedys, Joey McIntyre, Rocky Marciano
Example sentence: "Ah final ahs just disappeah, but wheah they go we've no idear."
Anybody who has watched even one season (the good one) of The Wire has an ear for the beautiful Bawlmer accent. Unlike Boston's The Departed and Filelfia's Silver Linings Playbook, the accent work in The Wire has been lauded for its close likeness to how actual Baltimore residents speak—like warshing an Ole Bay stain out of your shirt in the baffroom during an Oh-ree-oles game. Still ugly, unfortunately, even when it's coming out of Idris Elba's pretty mouth.
Notable Baltimore accents: Tom Clancy, Muggsy Bogues, Duff Goldman, Brandon Novak
Example sentence: "Get dem highgeranium plants in 'fore dey freeze."
Many people would say that Los Angeles doesn't have a distinct accent. Between Kim Kardashian's statements-phrased-as-questions and the immortalized Valley Girl squeal, getting annoyed about having traffic on the 405 really does come with its own slowed-down uptick that isn't so far off from the spot-on characterization on SNL's The Californians. Blend all that with an overdose of sunshine and a dismal vocal fry and you won't be able to miss the whine in "I really wishhh Rob heeyyyyrree?"
If you want these kind of dreams, it's Californication. And hey, vocal fry ain't so bad.
Notable L.A. accents: the Kardashians, every broadcast journalist in TV news, Kathleen Hanna
Example sentence: "Like, there is nyothing wrongggg with the LA accent?"
Beautiful, wonderful Shi-Kaw-Go. Home to infamous fashionista Kanye West and that hot dog place where they yell at you, the Windy City had its accent's crowning moment in the ongoing SNL sketch Bill Swerski's Superfans. Natives replace "the" with "da" and add long "ah"s to make words like "hockey" come out as "hahckey." The Chicago accent is deep (like a pizza) and bad (like the Cubs).
Notable Chicago accents: the Belushis, your college roommate's mother
Example sentence: "My brotheh Bahb is lookin' to get tickets fer da Bears game."
[Image by Jim Cooke]