Finally, a Boston accent explainer that’s actually adequate

Fellow Bostonian and contributor Seth Stevenson explains why Hollywood’s attempts at the city’s accent will never really meet our approval.

The Boston accent is a fundamentally hard thing to explain. While it’s easy to point to the quintessential non-pronunciation of the “R,’’ we also know a good accent is about the way that R is or is not pronounced. It’s also more than just phonetics. As Bill Simmons once told Mark Wahlberg, the Boston accent is “about attitude.’’

Alas, here with a proper explainer on the complicated elements that make up the Boston accent is Seth Stevenson, a fellow Bostonian and regular contributor at Slate. In his video, he goes through the variety of different “R’’ words, but also delves into dialect, vowel sounds, and why no non-native can truly replicate the accent to one of us.


As for the array of dialects from areas in and around Boston, they’re definitely real, but difficult to describe.

“So my dad lived in Rhode Island and my mom in Brookline, but I can sometimes differentiate the Rhode Island from the Boston,’’ Stevenson told “Once in awhile, I get a little cocky and think I can hear the North Shore versus South Shore, but I don’t think I can tell you what I’m hearing exactly. Like, I don’t think I can put into words, I just get an overall feeling.’’

“It’s tough to do,’’ he said, adding that even the linguists Stevenson spoke to when researching for his video might not be able to it reliably.

Maybe they just need to listen to a few versions of “pop tart’’/“pup taht.’’ We hear it works for some people.

Boston accents in movies, ranked:

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