If you are planning a move or a vacation to Connecticut, you may be wondering what a Connecticut accent sounds like. I’m here to help you understand the nuances of this interesting and unique New England accent.
Connecticut, not being homogenous in population or dialect, is a difficult accent to explain. I’m going to give it a try, though.
Let’s dive in and learn about Connecticut’s twist on the already wicked interesting Southwestern New England English.
The different Connecticut dialects
Connecticut, one of the tinier New England states, often gets left out of the American accent conversation – and that’s really too bad. The way people speak here is so unique and the history of why Connecticut-ians talk this way is pretty fascinating.
Many people from New York own vacation homes in Connecticut. So, you will find more of the New York variation of English diaphonomes and gliding vowels in western Connecticut and in some of the more prestigious beach towns.
Then there is Connecticut’s proximity to Bahston. Many people in northeastern Connecticut have a heavy Boston influence in their accents.
You can spot these Connecticut quasi-accents because they are non-rhotic; the /r/ sound is omitted before consonants.
While these accents are certainly interesting to hear for folks visiting the state, up here in Connecticut, we do not claim these accent variations as our own.
This particular type of speech pattern is not indigenous to Connecticut – or anywhere, really. However, its use in American theater in the early 20th century sparked its instruction in many elite preparatory schools in the northeast during this time period thru the 1950’s.
Obviously, nobody speaks using this accent anymore, on or off the screen. However, remnants of it can still be detected in the Connecticut accent.
What does this accent sound like? Think Kelsey Grammer’s character in the TV show Frasier or James March, the character from American Horror Story’s Hotel season.
The true Connecticut accent: What does it sound like?
So, we now know a bit about what influences created the Connecticut accent and what accents you’ll hear in Connecticut that are not truly “Connecticut”. So, let’s get to what the true accent for this beautiful state sounds like.
Below is an audio recording of a man from New London County. (My home county – I personally vouch for the authenticity.) His accent is the most true-to-life representation of a Connecticut accent I am able to find on a recording.
This is the exact accent I first encountered when I relocated from the Southeastern U.S. to New England. It is extremely unique and charming.
Features of a Connecticut accent
A trained linguist I am not. However, there are certain features of the accent here that are noticeable, even to the untrained ear. Here are some features you’re likely to notice about this unique New England accent.
- T-glottaling (Using glottal stops in place of the /t/ sound. You will find this very noticeable.)
- Mumbling (No defined spaces between words.)
- Northern Cities Vowel Shifting (Pronouncing the word ‘cut’ like ‘caught’, etc.)
- A “nasal” short-a system (vowels are raised the strongest when occurring before the nasal consonants /m/ and /n/)
Apart from the way Connecticut folks speak, the things they say up here are pretty unique, as well. But that’s for another day.