Josef Fruehwald has some well-thought-out criticism of Gawker’s latest hate-fest, “America’s Ugliest Accent.” He concludes: “At the risk of coming off as a slacktivist, I’d encourage you all to be the change you want to see in the world, and say something nice about an accent today, even if it’s just your own.” I was actually thinking, as I looked at the Gawker bracket, how much I like some of these accents. So I’m going to try to say something nice about all sixteen of the ones they chose, with some of my thoughts about the whole shebang, and maybe throw in a few more accents at the end.
There are lots of voices you may hear when you think of a Boston accent: President Kennedy, Mayor Quimby, “Park the car in Harvard Yard.” I think of Philip from American Tongues, but mostly I think of Tom and Ray Magliozzi, also known as “Click and Clack, the Tappit Brothers,” from National Public Radio’s Car Talk. They are masters of the Boston accent, which is sort of a Bizarro version of my family’s New York accent with a lot of the same dropped “r”s, but we raise the “o”s in some places where they don’t, and they front the “a”s in some places where we don’t. It’s all good.
You might be one of those who think Tom and Ray are annoying, and their banter can be hard to listen to if you’re not in the mood for it. I suspect that for years someone has been editing in extra chuckles to pump up the jolly mood, and it’s unnecessary. You might dismiss them as a pair of know-nothing car mechanics with working-class accents, but they’re actually well-educated technophiles, and they do great things with language and sound. I don’t own a car, and I don’t much like cars, but I listened to their show regularly for years. Just their fake end credits, like Statistician Marge Innovera, are worth tuning in for. And they sound better in a Boston accent.