The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Going Dutch

February 15, 2014

Crack the COAL Region sound - Part 2

But the Coal Region lacks the rapid-fire gangster sound of the Bronx. You’ve got to drop your jaw when you hit certain vowels, and draw them out: My brudder got hit in da mout. And it’s funny with speech and accents, unless someone points it out to you, you’d swear you were speaking the King’s English. So, this kitten/button/Milton thing … what am I saying wrong?

At last, my sister-in-law helped me. As near as I can figure it, it’s not the “en” part; it’s the “t”. Now, most people don’t go around enunciating the “t’s” in a word: Mar-tin, ki-tten, Ni-ttany. We sort of soften it, blend it in with the word. But in the Coal Region, when we get to the “t” it’s like a bug flies in and hits the back of our throat. We barely say it. It almost sounds more like a cough: Mar-in, ki-en, Ni-anny. Thus, in those Northeastern Pennsylvania coal towns it is perfectly acceptable to read to your children the story of “dat’ree li’le ki’ens that lost their mi’ens.”

And of course, to advise your children that those kittens ought to immediately say a prayer to St. Ant’ony, who, as all good Cat’lics know, is the pa’ron saint of lost t’ings. And I can tell you for a fact that praying to St. Anthony will help because, when I was little, I prayed to him and won just about every time my brothers and sisters and I played “find the but’on.”

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