A London-based translation firm posted an ad on Craigslist looking to pay a freelancer $210 a day to interpret “Brooklynese,” raising the question: What exactly is Brooklynese?

 

Kings County may have its share of residents who walk their “dawgs” while drinking “cawfee.” Linguists, however, believe no such regional accent exists: New Yawkers are in all five boroughs.

 

“We don’t think there is a Brooklyn accent. We think there is a New York accent that’s used more heavily by certain people,” said Kara Becker, a doctoral candidate in New York University’s linguistics department. “It’s not so much about where you’re from. It’s your social background.”

 

For instance, an upper-class New Yorker, might drop her r’s 5 percent of the time, while a working-class man might drop his 90 percent of the time, Becker explained. (Women tend to have less of an accent than men of the same social background, she noted.)


“The New York accent is doing well in some neighborhoods and not as well in others,” said George Jochnowitz, emeritus linguistics professor of the College of Staten Island. Manhattan is faring worst, he said, mainly because of large numbers of transplants and higher-income residents.