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How do you pronouce Peabody in Massachusetts? It may not be how you think it is

If you have seen Christian Bale in ‘The Fighter’, you are bound to know what this is all about. Above many other things, the one thing that sets true Massachusetts residents apart is the distinct, pronunciations they use. The way names of towns in the state are pronounced by locals is very different from how outsiders do. If you are planning a trip, best to have a look at some of the pronunciations.

There are no formal or written rules about how to pronounce different words in Massachusetts style, but a person who has spent a considerable amount of time in the state will definitely be able to point out a few unsaid but obvious rules. Most of the utterances can be truly called arbitrary but there are a few that may be classified.  But remember – words that easily roll off the tongues of natives might stump you and require a little bit of practice before you get them just right.

Let’s start with the famous ‘Worcester’. This word under the dictates of English language would be pronounced as wor-ches-ter, but as the way Bostonians do is wuh-ster. And yes it is whu-ster sauce and not the three-syllable utterance that outsiders usually use.

  1. Yet another distinction in pronunciation is the way towns that end with ‘-ham’ are pronounced. The general rule is that the stress should be laid on the first syllable of a word ending with ‘-ham’, the latter being pronounced as ‘um’. For example, Dedham is pronounced as DED-um, while Needham is NEED-um. There are exceptions to this one as well with Framingham being framing-HAM, so the best advice – just follow how the locals do it.
  2. Bostonians usually do not pronounce their r’s, but what is confusing is that Norfolk is Nor-fok, all intact with the r.
  3. The moment you pronounce Peabody as pee-Body, you will confirm yourself to be an outsider. All true breed Bostonians know that it is Pee-b’dee and call it that way.
  4. One may feel that the Massachusetts accent is born out of convenience and laziness, because people here have the tendency to skip vowels if there are many in a single word. For example, Billerica is pronounced bill-rica while Leominster is pronounced leh-min-ster instead of bill-er-rica and leo-min-ster respectively.
  5. There are cases where a vowel is even added, falsifying the statement made above. For example Woburn is pronounced as woo-burn instead of wo-burn.

Since only a primer has been promised here, these are just a few town names that outsiders may tumble upon. The best way to go about learning how to pronounce the Massachusetts way is to spend some time there. You will for sure pick up the local lingo.

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