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Readers weigh in

'You've got to be from Buffalo!': 'B-L-A' lessons and other accent anecdotes

What was the moment you discovered that you had a Buffalo accent?

After Tim O'Shei reported on the unique idiosyncrasies of the Buffalo accent (like how the "Al" in "Alden" and "Albion" don't sound the same), readers shared their own stories about discovering the Buffalo accent, usually when they moved to or from Western New York. Here are a few of them:

From James Nellis: Years ago a woman from South Buffalo told me that she was taking B-L-A lessons. I didn't want to sound stupid, so I just told her that I thought it was a good thing to do. I then spent weeks trying to figure out what B-L-A could possibly mean. Finally, I had to ask her and she told me, "You know, B-L-A dancing, like Swan Lake!"

From Jeffrey Schmid: The one that gets me, not having grown up here, is the local pronunciation of veteran. I was taught the word is pronounced vet-er-an. Here it's pronounced vet-ren. Of course, I'm from Long Island and we drop R's from the end of words — shore becomes shaw, dinosaur becomes dinosaw. Every area has its quirks.

From Nancy Ifflander Sagar Loffredo: I was mocked mercilessly in college for my Buffalo “accent” by many friends who came from Longggg Oyland. I told them that if they wanted to speak like a Buffalonian, just say everything while smiling!

From Victoria Carlin: My high school friends forced me to relearn how to say “iron” when I moved to Buffalo. More like I-run than arhn. Later though, my coworkers gave me endless grief for not pronouncing Dawn correctly. They insisted that I said it like Don and it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t hear the difference and still can’t to this day.

From Laura Hoover Scott: I was in a tiny town in Alabama once. Went to the mall there. Went into Bath and Body Works to get something quickly. The cashier stopped me and asked me if I was from New York. I was confused but I said “Yes. Why?” And she said “You’ve got to be from Buffalo! I’m from Utica and I’ll never forget your accent for as long as I live.”

From Jeb Randon: I’ve lived and worked in the Philly area for 25 years. Many of my friends kid me, calling me a pirate because my “R’s” sounds like, "Arrrrgh."

From Marjorie Carozzolo: I have a very strong Buffalo accent. Wherever I've traveled I've been asked about it or mimicked. A policeman in Boston, Mass., with a very strong accent laughed at my accent when I had asked him a question. He said, "Hold it a minute there, young lady. Where are you from with that accent?" I said, "Mine? Listen to yours!"

[RELATED: You can try, but you "ke-an't" avoid the Buffalo accent]

From Patti Shannon: I was born in Buffalo and had to move away when I was 11 because of my dad’s job. Definitely an accent ... I’ve pretty much lost mine, but every once in a while it comes back with certain words. My mom never lost her accent. I grew up in Washington State, and when my mom introduced herself everyone thought she said her name was Pit instead of Pat ...

From Jen Trim-Bittner: When I moved to the Hudson Valley after living in Buffalo for 32 years, I got asked if I was from Minnesota by several people. The Buffalo accent is totally a thing.

From Sherrie Knop: Buffalo expat living in Arizona. We absolutely have an aaaackcent, and we also pronounce words differently. What about the word el-em-en-tary? In Arizona, it's pronounced el-em-en-tree. Also, no one says "supper." I find the linguistic aspect of being an expat fascinating!

From Tricia Romanelli Andersen: We moved here from New Hampshire 10 years ago. My son Nick complains that kids at school call him “Neck” (also melk for milk, pellow for pillow, sence for since, etc).

From Alison Schoenthaler: I'm from Cheektowaga. When I moved to Arizona, everyone thought I was from New York City!

From Katie Sampsel: When I moved from Buffalo to Ohio, all I ever heard about was the accent. From the “A” thing to “youse guys.”

From Sheila Thompson: I grew up in Buffalo. Now we live in South Carolina. Working with the public, I do try to be careful and enunciate properly. But I've been asked if I'm from Fargo! Hahaha. Guess ya just can't lose the accent!

From Bill Wende: I went to a school in mid-Ohio my freshman year and took a dialects course from this professor who could do hundreds of dialects at the snap of his finger. I was doing a bit using some dialect and after I was done, this professor asked me where I was from. I said Buffalo, N.Y., and he said, "I thought so." I asked him why and he stated that Western New Yorkers have a definite nasal "a" and "o." This story brings back that day and confirms what he said.

From Vanessa Marie Parker: Living down here in New York City, people from Long Island, the city, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley think I'm Canadian.

From Todd S Blackley Jr.: I worked for a pharmaceutical company and for a health insurance call center that took calls from all over the U.S. and Canada ... and I overwhelmingly was asked if I was located in Canada! But I have friends and relatives that, when I hear them speak, I can even hear the "Buffalo" accent!

From Kimberly Zink: Talking on the phone for work, I had a Southerner tell me I had a Canadian accent!

From Trudi Renée Reinhardt: When I went to the South, everyone thought I was Canadian, but when I go to Canada they can tell I'm from Western New York.

From Cheryl Burgher: And all this time, I thought I sounded like every TV news anchor person: No distinctive accent! Everyone here in North Carolina asks where I am from. I always say proudly, “Buffalo, N.Y.!”

From Jamie Erickson: I live in Boston now and get asked all the time if I am from Western New York. However, when I visit Buffalo, I get asked if I’m from Boston. So I have no idea what I actually sound like.

From Beth Hobel Wright: Twenty-three-year Buffalo native, living in southeastern Pennsylvania for 18 years now. I don't want to lose my Buffalo accent. It's bad enough that I have to call pop soda where I live.

From Coryn Charbonneau Mittiga: I'm from Syracuse but I've lived in Buffalo for 15 years. There is definitely a Buffalo accent. My North Tonawanda-born and -raised husband makes fun of me for my Syracuse accent. It's soda.


What are your best stories and funniest or most embarrassing misunderstandings about the Buffalo accent? Share them with us in the comment section below.

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