Researchers track evolution of Philly’s odd accent

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Soon Philadelphia may no longer be a place where residents drink wooder and root for the Iggles.

A University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor says the Southern-inflected sound of the Philadelphia dialect is moving toward a more Northern accent. Some of Philly’s trademark twangy, elongated vowel sounds are becoming less so, though others are getting stronger.

Bill Labov has studied the Philadelphia accent since 1971 and recorded hundreds of native speakers born between 1888 and 1992 and living in dozens of neighborhoods. In a research paper he and colleagues recently published, they conclude that the city’s linguistic character is not disappearing altogether — but it’s changing.

The reasons aren’t entirely clear but higher education appears to be a factor, as does simply being aware that certain local inflections are disparaged by outsiders.

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