Survivors Guide to New Jersey Speak

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Preferred

The SopranosMany 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.  

New JerseyFirst, 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.

JoiseyA 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)
Piney Talk
The Sopranos? Fuhgeddaboutit!
Philadelphia Slang
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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Copyright 2006,2008 by LawrenceYerkes. All Rights Reserved


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Danny Smith
Obiviously those of us in TEXAS have the same issues. We have our own unique way of pronouncing words!
Jan 24, 2007 08:52 PM #1
Donna Mitortando

Ok i'm origianlly from bayonne all my life. moved to roselle park about 6 years ago.  When i talk around here in roselle park people always ask me where are u from??  I don't see no different way i talk then them out here.  Now Bayonne is only about 12 miles away from where i am now. But bayonne is said to have an accent somewhere between brooklyn and staten island.  And it must be true because people always ask me are u from Brooklyn?  I say no Bayonne.

Jul 16, 2008 03:15 AM #2
Lawrence Yerkes
RE/MAX Preferred - Medford Township, NJ
Broker Associate, Southern New Jersey Real Estate Services

My wife has relatives from there also and they definitly have more of the New York / Brooklyn accent than those of her family living further away from NYC.

Jul 16, 2008 07:33 AM #3
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Broker Associate, Southern New Jersey Real Estate Services
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