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A Presidential Vocabulary Guide : Here's How to Speak English in Propuh Bawhston Style

October 07, 1988|United Press International

BOSTON — Will a cuppachowdah be the official White House soup during the next presidency?

Dana Lynn Wilson, author of two irreverent little books on the English language as spoken in Boston, says that's a possibility since George Bush and Michael Dukakis are both native New Englanders.

Both presidential nominees were born in suburbs of Boston, a city known for beans and cod, rude drivers and a cuppachowdah--what the rest of the land knows as a "cup of chowder."

Wilson became fascinated by propuh English, Bawhston-style, she heard after moving here in the early 1970s from her native Houston, Tex. Boston is a place where people drop r' s from where they belong--and add them where they don't.

'Oldest Accent'

"It is really the oldest accent, because this is where America (Ameriker, in propuh Bawhstonese) started," Wilson said.

"We've sent three Presidents (John Adams, John Quincy Adams and John F. Kennedy) to Washington and we still don't have people in the capital talking right."

Neither Bush, who was raised in Connecticut and summers in Maine, nor Dukakis, raised in neighboring Brookline, speaks propuh English.

"Bush speaks very standard, Ivy League English. I've never heard a Maine accent--no 'yups' and 'nopes,' " Wilson says. "Dukakis has an educated accent that is hard to pinpoint, though outsiders will say it is definitely from New England."

Spells It Out

Wilson's books, "Boston English Illustrated" and "Moa Boston English," spell the words the way she says real Bostonians pronounce them.

"People come to Boston to hear people talk as much as to see the Freedom Trail," Wilson said. "The two most popular accents Americans like to hear are Boston and Atlanta.

"There is no real proper accent for the United States. Our regional differences in language are the last hope for retaining regional distinctions.

"Anywhere west of Boston, if you say 'awnt' instead of 'aunt' and 'lawf' instead of 'laugh,' you'll be looked at funny. This is the only place the broad a is not an affectation."

Given the interest in Boston spawned by the presidential campaigns, Wilson offered the following primer for anyone finding himself or herself arguing politics with a Bawhstonian:

Boa--A dull person. Something both nominees have been accused of.

Lodge--The opposite of small. The kind of lead each candidate wants election night.

Hahbah--A port for sheltering boats. Bawhston Hahbah, one of the world's filthiest waterways, is now a major environmental issue.

Potty--A social gathering or political organization.

Hot--The muscular organ that pumps blood. As in, the Midwest is America's hotland.

Shop--Shrewd, astute. The way each nominee wants to be seen by the voters.

Eras--Mistakes. The things that make campaign managers cringe.

Hod--Difficult. Both sides are campaigning hod to win the White House.

Wooled--The earth. The President is a top leader in the free wooled.

Impawtant--Significant, noteworthy. The sort of issues they are raising.

Waw--Armed conflict.

Ully--Opposite of late. Tom Dewey found this kind of lead doesn't ensure victory.

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