Philadelphian is most commonly used to describe someone who is from (or a resident of) the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After deciphering Philadelphia's unique accent, you'll need to learn the lingo to communicate with the locals. Failure to do so could spell disaster when ordering a steak and cheese or going to an Eagles game. If you've ever wondered when to tell Hoagie instead of sub (always), or what qualifies as jawn (everything), check out these essential Philly slang terms.
Philadelphia has one of the most unusual regional accents in the U.S. UU. Due to the different way vowels are pronounced, the water becomes more woody in the mouth of native speakers. The vowel of the first syllable sounds like “put” instead of “law”, as other Americans might pronounce it.
It's one of the most famous examples of the Philadelphia accent, but it's in danger of extinction. Although the unique vowel system is still used by older residents, it's not common among local millennials. Therefore, whether a Philadelphian refers to his city's famous flavored Italian ice as wooden ice or water ice may depend on his age. Next to Independence Hall and Rocky Steps, Lincoln Financial Field is one of Philadelphia's holiest sites.
Locals call it The Linc for short. The football stadium is home to the Eagles (also known as the Birds or the Iggles in the language of Philadelphia). Before Jawn won national recognition, Chumpy was Philadelphia's preferred multipurpose name. It became a common part of the black vernacular language of Philadelphia in the 1980s.
As linguist Ben Zimmer told My City Paper, it was so popular at one point that a local potato chip brand called its product Chumpies. Some of Philadelphia's other nicknames are The Quaker City, The Cradle of Liberty and The Birthplace of America. A lot of people call it Philadelphia. White Philadelphians, Jones points out, are quick to notice that they also use the word “jawn,” and that it's a Philadelphia thing and not just a black Philadelphia thing.
Jones says Philadelphia segregation may have encouraged change and adoption of “jawn”; black Philadelphians and white Philadelphians don't mix as much as, say, black New Yorkers and white New Yorkers, so a word created or altered in the black community can develop without influence. Jones told me that he once expressed the New York consensus theory about the local Philadelphia CBS affiliate and that “people were furious, writing angry tweets. The Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus data is a little outdated, Jones thinks, to make a definitive statement either way, but he opined that white Philadelphians seem to use it in a more limited way, not really exploring its full breadth and scope. Although virtually all Philadelphians use versions of jawn, the word is used to its full extent in the black community, according to linguists.
Two cities on the East Coast, Philadelphia and Boston, were important in the early history of the United States. This infuriates Philadelphians, who are generally very proud of their city and its culture and certainly don't want to think that one of their city's most distinctive words could have a New York origin. Usually, you'll find a whole class of words with similar stories, and there's really no companion for “jawn” in Philadelphia. In “Silver Linings Playbook”, Robert De Niro got together with an uncle of his co-star (and native of suburban Philadelphia) Bradley Cooper to lower the dialect, although the wife of De Niro's character, played by Australian actress Jacki Weaver, is closer to doing so.
The researchers' recent article in the journal Language, entitled “One Hundred Years of Sound Change in Philadelphia”, concludes that the linguistic character of the city is not completely disappearing, but is changing, with the most dramatic changes taking place in the mid-twentieth century. It is a multipurpose noun, a substitute for inanimate objects, abstract concepts, events, places, individuals and groups of people. . .