2008_02_archie.jpgBesides killing Mom ‘n’ Pop stores and displacing low-income residents, the rapid gentrification seen in some New York neighborhoods may be flushing the city’s famous working class dialect down the terlet.

A group of linguists interviewed by amNY say while predicting the future is impossible, there has been a dilution of that classic working class accent familiar to the world through movies and TV shows (here’s a good example of Archie Bunker’s New York speech as he holds forth on the sinister Democratic party).

The loss of the working class New York dialect is most prevalent in Manhattan, where the old money Mid-Atlantic accent, ala George Plimpton and Julianne Moore’s Maude Lebowski (YouTube clip), is also heading for obsolescence as newer generations perceive it as pure affectation. The blue collar accent is often thought of as specifically Brooklyn, but linguistic research proves that wrong, according to NYU doctoral candidate Kara Becker:

Linguistically we haven't been able to identify these borough differences. What we find is that we've got this New York City dialect that's accentuated by more working-class speakers. So depending on your occupation or your education, you may use more of these features, but it's not geographically distinct as far as we know.

Walt Wolfram, an English Linguistics professor, tells amNY the dialect has survived for so long in part due to a sort of feedback loop brought on by cinematic depictions of working-class New York. As the stereotype gets reinforced on TV or film, some New Yorkers in turn emulate the personas the outside world expects to see. But with the ethnic makeup of working class New Yorkers shifting toward immigrants from Asia and Latin America, the New York accent of the future may belong to Benetton.

Here's NYC24 on Noo Yawk Tawk, a 2003 New American City article about New York losing its accent, and Wikipedia on New York dialect, not to be confused with New Jersey English.