Would Trump Be Winning with a Midwestern Twang?

Dropped Rs (they-ah for there), added Rs (idea-r for idea). Ds instead of Ts (dees, dem, dose). Lots of aw (cawfee for coffee), and attitude—Okay? OKAY?

This year, the election accent advantage is yuge.

Maybe it’s crazy to argue that Trump’s pronunciation has helped him to the Republican nomination. Crazy is the new sanity.

I’m a fourth-generation New Ytrump-mouthorker, and I’ve never heard a five-boroughs accent called “presidential” or even attractive. At best, New Yorkers’ conversational style seems earthy and frank. At worst, thuggish.

Welcome to the 2016 contest! Since linguists agree that a New York accent makes you sound more forthright and muscular, we can blame Trump’s tongue, at least partially, for his success.

I would also like to have a word with his English teachers, grades 3 through 8.

It’s time when “authenticity,” whatever that means, and bravado catapult you to the top of the polls. To seem thoughtful (Marco Rubio) or, God forbid, intellectual (Jeb Bush) is anathema. The accent-proxy for these qualities is the neutral, Midwestern, or “broadcaster” inflection. Hillary Clinton is burdened with that.

And, yes, his Brooklyn brogue probably helped Sanders too.

Interested in exploring the different accents in each part of the city?

The Accents of the Five Boroughs

Fred Armisen takes audience requests

Check out a sample of my novel, and meet a character with an accent “as thick as a slice of New York cheesecake.”


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