5.19.2006

portland accent defined

In my ABC meme post, I said that my brother claims I have a Pacific Northwestern Accent - "whatever that is." Well, here's what it is! And this bit is exactly what he claims makes it so ….
Another aspect of the Portland dialect that may be noticed is the use of a particular intonation pattern. This intonation pattern is known as “up-speak”, or high rising terminal contours. Basically, this is the use of a rising question intonation on a declarative sentence, so that a statement like, “Then we went to the store,” may sound like a question rather than a statement. While this intonation pattern has been found in many different dialects (Australian English, for example), it is usually associated with teenage girls. This is the case in Portland, but research also shows that the use of this intonation contour is not limited to women, and not limited to teenagers. The functions behind the use of this intonation contour are still under investigation, but its use may become more and more a part of the Portland dialect as it spreads outside the teenage female realm.
My brother is so smart, and he's not even a trained linguist! I wonder if I've picked this accent up because I WAS a teenaged girl (18) when I moved here. (And yes, that sentence ends with an upwards tone at the end).

The article also points out some key Portland phrases, where "granola" is not just for breakfast and thrift stores are places where clothes are not too "spendy." I'd add "sunbreaks," "rain gear" and the ability of mountains to be "out" to the list.

3 comments:

great sandwich! said...

it's interesting this guy is from oregon, but goes to school in pennsylvania. i was 25 when i met a girl from pennsylvania who taught me the different pronunciations for Mary, marry, and merry. before then, i had no idea they were different.

i also thought that the bag/beg thing was a minnesota thing, not a northwest thing, but i probably don't have as large a sample size as mr. conn.

Buddies Watering Hole. said...

funny girl! must be Michael...

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

yup .. the brother in question would be Michael.