Is Baltimore's accent America's ugliest dialect?

  • Is Baltimore's accent really America's ugliest? Gawker.com wants to know.
Is Baltimore's accent really America's ugliest?… (Monica Lopossay, The Baltimore…)
September 30, 2014|By Chris Kaltenbach | The Baltimore Sun

Bawlamer, here's your chance to shine.

Kinda.

The fine elocutionists at gawker.com, ever on the prowl for clarion calls provocative enough to get a response from their site visitors, have announced a new contest that sounds right up Charm City's alley.

They're looking for the country's ugliest accent.

Prompted, they say, by a fear that American accents are flattening -- that is, that we're losing our regional dialects and beginning to sound blandly alike -- Gawker has thrown down the gauntlet. Sixteen dialects have been chosen, stretching geographically from L.A. to Boston. For the next several weeks, cities will mispronounce at one another in a round-robin tourney that should make March Madness seem dull and uninteresting by comparison.

(Gawker calls it "an authoritative and scientific evaluation of ugliness," which sounds just a tad highfalutin, but OK.)

Round 1 pits Los Angeles, home of swimming pools and movie stars, against Chicago, the hot dog capital of the world, and Boston, the center of Red Sox nation (boo!), against the home of your Baltimore Orioles (wild cheering and applause!).

We'd say there's no contest here, save for the fact that this contest presents us with a conundrum. As Orioles and Ravens fans can attest, we in Baltimore like to win. But an "ugly" accent contest? Perhaps that's one where winning might not be everything.

And, honestly, is a Baltimore accent really uglier than a Boston accent? Is anything uglier than a Boston accent? How can one compare going downy oshun and putting earl in the car, to parking your car in Hahvad Yahd, a New England corruption of the language so profound that it defies phonetic spelling. But you know it when you hear it (and sympathies to those who do).

(Gawker seems to agree, by the way. Boston's accent has been seeded first in the competition -- right above Scranton, Pa.'s -- while Baltimore's is seeded 16th and last.)

Anxious to cast your ballot? You can check out the Gawker post and vote here. But before you do, might we suggest you watch "Good Will Hunting," followed by "Hairspray" (either version), and then ask yourself, honestly, which accent is harder on the ear.

Thanks, Hon.

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