joye the obscured (dustthouart) wrote in linguaphiles,
joye the obscured

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origins of my accent

Greetings linguaphiles,
I'm hoping y'all can help me figure out where a particular aspect of my idiolect comes from.

Basically I do some nonstandard conjugation of certain verbs, to wit:
take -> took -> tooken
shake -> shook ->shooken
put -> put -> putten

For example, yesterday I was at the lakeside with my boyfriend, and I had changed into my swimsuit, but he was still wearing street clothes. I said "I feel weird being in my swimsuit with you wearing all that. You should have putten on your swimsuit."

Or, although I don't have a specific incident in mind, I will say something like "The garbage got tooken away already." Or "When he almost got hit by a car, he was really shooken up."

I used to be quite embarrassed by this way of talking, particularly because I'm the only one in my family who talks this way and they used to tease me saying I was a "little Dutchie". I tried my hardest to use standard English but I still slipped into it all the time. Nowadays I kind of like my accent because I feel it's unusual and maybe even a little cute. But I'd like to know if it's really Pennsylvania Dutch English.
I was born and grew up near Allentown, Pennsylvania, but my mother is from Baltimore Maryland, and my father from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and for the two decades prior to having me, they lived in New York City. They moved to Allentown shortly before I was born, in the early 80s.

Lehigh County has traditionally had a strong Pennsylvania Dutch presence but my family is not Pennsylvania Dutch at all. However in the 90s there was a sea change in the demographics of the area due to several high-tech companies moving into the area. Because of this, most of my friends past elementary school were not born in the area, and also not Pennsylvania Dutch.

Although my family has always believed that this and certain aspects of my pronunciation are Pennsylvania Dutch English-inspired, I wonder if this is really the case. I don't use what I consider to be some of the salient features of PA Dutch English, such as saying things like "Throw the horse over the fence some hay". Most interesting of all, even though I extend the "-en" suffix so much, I have never said "Outen the lights" unless I was purposefully mimicking a Pennsylvania Dutch accent. I would say "Turn the lights out."

I also really don't know that I had that much exposure to Pennsylvania Dutch English in my formative years.

My brother's fiance is Pennsylvania Dutch on both sides, and she says she thinks that this aspect of my accent comes from PA Dutch English, but she doesn't use it herself.

I'd really like to know if this is indeed from PA Dutch English (or another accent) or if it was only myself as a child overgeneralizing from "break -> broke -> broken" and I just never grew out of it.

I have googled "it got tooken" and got 360 results, so I am not the only person who has ever said this, lol. :)

As long as I'm doing "diagnose my accent", my boyfriend (Western Canadian) teases me because I have an "intrusive l". Eg when I say "I saw it" or "drawing" there's a bit of an l sound. I don't know how to write this in IPA because to me when I say "drawing" and "drawling" they don't sound the same. Before my boyfriend pointed it out I never noticed that I had an "l" sound in there. I googled "intrusive l" and found an article saying that this is something common in southern Pennsylvania. Does anyone have access to this article, or know anything about "intrusive l"? I can probably see the article when I go back to university, but right now I don't think I can get at it.
Tags: american english, dialects, idiolects

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