Many people have in their mind an idea of how a New Jersey (or 'Joisey') native sounds. If you are not from New Jersey, perhaps you get your impressions from TV, such as The Sopranos. However, the influences on New Jersey are diverse and identifying standard New Jersey speech patterns is more complicated than many realize.
First, it's important to recognize that there are two main divisions with New Jersey, roughly divided geographically into North and South Jersey. Due in part to the impact of New York City on the North and Philadelphia on the South, this has helped created recognizable linguistic differences between North and South Jersey. (See the articles "New Jersey English" and "New York - New Jersey English" and the Reference Guides below for more details.)
Three examples of the differences in North and South Jersey pronounciation are how "coffee", "drawer" and "water" are pronounced. North Jersey will tend to say "caughfee" or "cawfee", "draw" and "whatar", whereas in the South you will tend to hear "coughfee", "drarr" and "wuter" (short "u") or even "wooder", such as "Let's all go to Rita's for some wooder ice!"
Warning: Unless they possibly hail from Brooklyn, NYC, no one who lives in New Jersey that I ever heard says "Joisey". Avoid the temptation to use phrases like, "Oh, you're from New Joisey!" -- they are not considered funny or 'cute' to New Jersey natives, and they've already heard it enough times.
A good example of the variations in the New Jersey speech is a list of famous singers/musicians and entertainers who were born and raised in New Jersey. If you listen to their normal speaking voice (NOT their acting voices), then you will hear good examples of New Jersey accents. You will notice a difference if they come from North, North/Central or South Jersey. As a rule of thumb, the closer and longer they lived near New York City (for example Newark or Bayonne), the more they will sound like your "Joisey or Joizey" stereotype. The map at right with the New York City-Newark, NJ area within the yellow circle is 'ground zero' for the standard North Jersey accent. Click on it to view a larger image. (But remember, no one who grew up in Jersey pronounces it as "Joisey".) Click here for more famous New Jerseyans / New Jerseyites
Survival Guide References to New Jersey English and Pronunciation
Linguistic differences between North and South Jersey
New Jersey English
New York - New Jersey English
New Jersey Phraseology (Intro) - North/Central, South
Jersey Accent (North)
The Sopranos? Fuhgeddaboutit!
New Jersey Pronunciation Guide
National - American Dialect Links
New Jersey Accents and Other Stereotypes
New Jersey English Dialiects (MP3 Sound Archive - North Jersey)
You Say "Jersey Tomayto," I say "Jersey Tomahto"
An Accent of New Jersey !????
See also: New Jersey Fast Facts for more about North vs. South - New Jersey style.
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