My first roommate in college was from Albany, NY. During summer vacations when I returned to Queens, we would chat on the phone. Come September she would admit to me that the second I was back in Queens, my Queens accent kicked in, my voice sped up to 50 miles an hour, and she couldn’t understand anything I said on those calls so she just “yessed” and “ah ha’d” me until I returned to college and could once again be understood by those outside the borough.
My guess is that she was not the only one to struggle with understanding people from the borough, so as a public service to my non-Queens readers, I have put together a little Queens to English translation guide.
A few things to know about a Queens accent: it is very nasal, it could take weeks to complete the sound of a word with a w in it, and r’s are optional. The further east you go in the borough, the more pronounced the accent becomes, until you hit Lawn Giland (Long Island) which is beyond the scope of this post. Some natives of Queens have gone on to have successful careers, like Cyndi Lauper, famous for such hits as True Culas and Tiwwwwme Afta Tiwwwwme.
Now, practice with me. Here are two typical Queens conversations. Try to read along. Then check the words in the English/Queens translation guide below.
I was bowww-na in Queens, New Yawwk whay-a it is against the laww-wa not to clean up af-ta ya dawwwg. I hey-ar from some goy-a der was a tiwwwwme when dawwwgs cud drink wodda and then piss whereva they wan-ed to but dose days are gawwwn, thank Gawwwd.
Wait until ya fatha gets home mista! The cula of ya baa-tam is gowen to be red by tomarra and faww weeks ta come.
New York: New Yawwwwk
would have: wood-a
Next time, we will examine what happens when you combine a Brooklyn-bred father who loved cawwwww-fee and cake with a mother from Pennsylvania who spelled out the family name, Lewine, L-E-DUBYA-I-N-E to whoever needed to know, which was pointless anyway, since everything with the family name printed on it always ended up misspelled as Levine.