The Elusive Vermont Accent

It’s got something to do with the “a’s” and “r’s.” At least that’s what I think.

I overslept one morning, and so, unable to make my own coffee, I ran into the general store on my way into work. Next to the assortment of Green Mountain Coffee is a large round table where the local guys sit and chat before working on the farms, in the woods, or wherever they take their pick up trucks after 9:00 AM.

Passing up the French vanilla flavored milk, I pumped out some hazelnut coffee—I know your opinion of me has just dropped a little, but it was a rough morning. While I topped off my cup, I heard it. That gentle bending of “r’s” and a subtle touch of an “h” at the end of an “a.” It’s not as hard as a Boston or Maine accent. It doesn’t sound like they’re prying an “ahr” sound out of words like park or farm which magically become “pahrk” or “fahrm.”

It’s a gentle accent mixed with the country twang that you’d expect to hear in any rural area, especially the mushing of “th” into a “d.” “I dunno, but somebody’s down ‘dere fishin’ fur trout.” To make matters worse, these guys talk fast and low, a style of their own. When I call our propane service guy—a local if there ever was one—I can hardly understand what he’s saying.

And that’s the problem, I want nothing more than to understand and to one day mimic the Vermont accent. This is a much bigger deal for me than it should be.

A huge part of my identify for years was my strong Philly accent. Water became “wooder,” “huge” became “uge,” and dog became “duawwg.” Ah, but it has since been lost when I moved north. Without my accent I feel uprooted, a wandering vagrant without an audible identity.

And so I am seeking a badge, a mark that I now belong in Vermont. I admit that I’m not a local, homegrown Vermonter, but I covet the chance to travel somewhere and have someone say, “You sound like you’re from New England.”

Then I’ll look them straight in the eyes and say, “Yep, I’m a Vermontah.”

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4 thoughts on “The Elusive Vermont Accent

  1. I moved, alot, growing up. Eleven times by the time I was eighteen. While all our moves were in Pennsylvania some may as well been across the country for the different cultures we experienced. Included in those cultures were accents and I too have always envied the accent. I am a person without an identifiable place of origin. All things considered, far worse things could have happened but it is good to know I am not only one who “hears” a place. Thanks Ed.


  2. Here’s a tip from a local. If a vowel ends in a T, don’t say it. Its one of the fastest ways I pick out flatlanders. Flatlanders say “Vermont”. Locals say “Vermon”. I the fancy term is glottal replacement. Not sure what it means, but according to Wiki thats what the T dropping is. But you don’t just not say the T. You kind of swallow it. Its kinda hard to describe, since I grew up with it so it sounds normal to me. But listen for it. Also, apparently we use don’t and weren’t incorrectly. Not sure how, but my grade school English teacher always used to ride me about it.


  3. Slight correction of above, I meant to say if a Sylable ends it T, not a vowel. All that thinking about grammer rules got me messed up.


  4. Well I’m from Swanton, VT and if you wanna sound like your from here don’t pronounce the T, at the end of ‘ing’ don’t say the G and when you say your, it’s yur, when you say ours it’s ahrs. I also find that we say “I’m gunna be goin’…” Instead of “I’m going to go to…” Hope this help you.


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