I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and have spent most of my life here, as did my sister. About 15 years ago, she moved to California with her husband. The weather there is obviously different, so her kids are used to warmer weather. Since they don’t have snow, they wanted to go sledding while they were here. When we got back into the car after sledding yesterday, her kids asked me to crank the AC. I told them they probably meant the heat, but my nephew reminded me that they are from California and like the AC. I told them that my truck had AC, but there was no way I was turning it on yesterday. The funny thing was, my sister and I had to go back in the car and warm up while the kids were on sledding because she had dress boots on. She didn’t ask for the AC! My brother-in-law (who also grew up here) walked around talking about how cold it is. What happened to them? It’s cold in Chicago in December. Did they forget?

Last night, my parents joined all of us for dinner. Somehow we got on the subject of accents. I asked my sister if I had a Chicago accent and she said, without hesitation, “Hell, Yes!”. Really? I thought I sounded neutral – like the actors on TV. My brother-in-law told me that everyone thinks that. How is that possible? My friend from Boston is clearly from Boston. When her sister came to town, she introduced her to my daughter, saying her name was Bobby. My daughter thought that was a strange name for a woman. I had to tell my daughter that her name was really Barbie. That’s an accent!

So I asked them what our accent sounded like. We don’t go around talking like the SNL Super Fans. We don’t sound like Al Capone. We sound – regular. No, my sister said I sound nasally. Nice. My dad chimed in. He was also born and raised here, living out of state for only three years. He asked me to pronounce “ruined”. It seems my aunt, who is from Ohio and now a DJ in Atlanta, made fun of him for the way he pronounced it. I said “rooned”. My sister laughed and told me it was “ru – en – d”. I then asked my kids to say it. One said it like me and the other said it like my sister. Who asked her anyway?

So this morning, before writing this post, I looked up “How to speak with a Chicago accent”. Apparently, we draw out our “s”. For example, the word “rest” sounds like “resssst”. Maybe. What else? These articles said we say “ah” instead of a short “o,” so “shot” sounds like “shat.” I guess. We also say “daht.calm” instead of “dot.com”.

There was even a list of Chicago-ese sayings. Some are true – we say pop instead of soda, couch instead of sofa, and gym shoes are what Nike makes. We do not say things like “frunchroom” (the front room of the house), “over by there” (instead of over there), and we certainly don’t eat hoagies. Those are called subs! The only ones that say “da” instead of “the” are the Super Fans and Mike Ditka.

So you can judge us for whatever you like. We are a pretty tough lot. Anyone that can withstand -20 windchill isn’t bothered by people making fun of how we talk. I’m gonna grab some Starbucks now. Wanna come with?

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