Henry Higgins meets the frum community

Do you have a frum accent?

I was listening to a convo with my friends, who were discussing how you can always tell when frum people from Brooklyn call into the radio, and not because they say things like baruch Hashem a lot. This convo got me thinking about the phonetics of the frum dialect, at least the dialect I hear around me in Brooklyn.

According to an unofficial Gallup poll (Snarkodox, 2008),  many frum people believe that they can tell whether a wrong number they’ve dialed belongs to a frum person. (Of course, many of the right and wrong numbers will belong to frum people in this neighborhood, so that may be due to chance). Many also claim to differentiate frum Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Many of my surveyees also maintain that they can usually tell whether a non-Chasid or Chasida is from Flatbush or Boro Park solely based on accent. Most admitted to accent profiling when trying to determine whether someone is a BT or not (they claim it is not based on choice of words). 

Hence my non-official results are suggestive of the presence of a distinct “classic” Ashkenazi-frum accent, apparently discernible from the classic Syrian-Jewish, Italian- African-, Mexican-, Dominican-, and Russian-American accents. This is supported by the “yeshivish (dialect)” article by the highly reliable Wikipedia, which differntiates this dialect from the “Jewish New York” one. Of course not all frum Jews fit into this accent, just as not all people from other ethnic groups fit display “their” accent.

I’m curious about how people feel about their “frum” accent. Do you have  one? Have you ever had an experience when someone expected something of you solely based on the way you talk? (Because it’s not often to be judged by dress.) Anyone ever try to get ride of their frum accent, like at school or work? Ever told you sounded too frum (even by Orthodox people)? …


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  1. * Frumbutnotaidel says:

    I’ve always wondered about the more Yeshivish crowd’s accents. They were born in the US (as were most of their parents at this point) yet they have that eastern European accent. Why?

    Posted 10 years, 11 months ago
  2. * Snarkodox says:

    I’ve always assumed that it was influence from Yiddish inflection…?

    Posted 10 years, 10 months ago
  3. * tooyoungtoteach says:

    I don’t know about the community as a whole, but within different sects there are definite accents.

    Take the chassidim, their r’s and l’s are a little off.

    When dealing with extremely yeshivish, there is a certain lilt and tune speech, much like any other accent.

    Posted 10 years, 10 months ago

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