That Philly accent: Tawk Like a Fluffyan

Credit: Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia
Credit: Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

When newborn Sean Monahan came home from the hospital 27 years ago, he settled into a snug abode on South Street. There, he grew as a true-blooded Philadelphian, until his parents decided that bringing up a baby on South Street in the late 1980s was probably not the best idea.

The Monahans soon moved to Bensalem and then Langhorne, Pa. There, he developed a true Philadelphian accent. He ate “hooooeegies” and drank “wudder” from the “spicket.”

In 2005, Monahan left for Wooster College in Ohio. But a funny thing happened: None of his classmates understood what in the heck he was saying.

“People thought I had a speech impediment,” he recalled.

So he flattened his “o” sounds and started asking for “wah-ter” to drink. Slowly, his “Fluffyan” accent disappeared. But this made him sad. Who was he, Monhanan thought, it he wasn’t “tawking” about “dem Phils” and going “danashor?”

He moved back to Philadelphia in 2009 to work for AmeriCorps and attend graduate school at Temple University. He proudly reclaimed his Philly accent and began uploading a series of “PhillyTawk” videos on YouTube. He explained and defined such words as “cawfly” – otherwise known as the beverage coffee – and “halss,” which is where people live. He used captions to help viewers from other parts of the country decipher the dialect.

But the video that spread the fastest and got the most views was “Sh** Philadelphians Say.” He paired up with his childhood friend Harry Lichtner and Lichtner’s comedy improv group. They shot the video at locations all over the city, expounding in rapid-fire segments about annoying tourists, wiz wit and jawns.

In fact, “jawn” is one of Monahan’s favorite regional words, which he describes it as an all-purpose noun.

“Absolutely anything can be a jawn,” said Monahan. “It’s even more flexible than the word ‘thing.’”

His “Sh** Philadelphians Say” video and the extended cut version have been viewed more than 80,000 times on YouTube. The total number of YouTube views for all his videos is more than 500,000 he said.

Not everyone is a fan, however. At least 30 percent of the comments from viewers are some version of “There’s no way these people are from Philly.” Monahan said he doesn’t mind, even when the comments get downright nasty.

“I think people get super defensive about how they talk,” he said. “And it’s not in the Philadelphian style to let things go.”

In September, Monahan left Philadelphia once again. He now lives in Providence, RI where he is earning his Ph.D in political science. But this time, he is proudly elongating his “o” sounds and “tawking” like a proud Philadelphian.

Kathryn Quigley is a journalism professor and freelance writer. She can be reached at kathrynsquigley@gmail.com. Metro does not endorse the opinions of this author.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: Lesbians, men most likely…

Lesbians, men most likely to achieve orgasm Location: U.S. Study subjects: 2,850 people Results: Whether you find it shocking or not, a new study reports that…

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.