Do We Speak with a Pacific Northwest Accent? Yes.
It's hard to imagine that we in the Pacific Northwest have a discernible accent. I’ve always thought we didn’t have any accent - whatever. Most of us living in the Western half of the US seem to speak the same accent. The exception is - the most famous accent in all of the Western US - Californian.
According to the linguists at Babbel, we in the Pacific Northwest have begun to develop our new speaking patterns. This new evolving accent is heard around the larger cities of Seattle and Portland.
How exactly do experts describe Pacific Northwest English?
The Pacific Northwest accent sounds very close to “General American” which is only used by newscasters or other people trying to mask their natural accents. If you grew up in the South, or on the East Coast; and wanted to break into the media field. You’d more than likely have to take courses to neutralize the accent you got from your parents and older siblings.
But slowly, over time, we are starting to drift into our manner of accent. Let the people at Babbel break it down for you.
‘...the differences...involve vowel pronunciation. Pacific Northwesterners observe the cot-caught merger, meaning they pronounce words like “don” and “dawn” the same, while other parts of the country separate them. Also, they pronounce the letter “e” in words like “egg” and “beg” more like an “ay,” so the words would sound like aygg and bayg. Some parts of the northwest also have the pin-pen merger, so “pin” and “pen” would both sound like “pin.” '- Babbel
Over the past few decades, there has been a larger influx of people; moving from other parts of the country to Seattle and Portland. Babbel thinks that this, combined with influences from Canada to the north and California to the south, has created a “unique mix of these speech features.”
What’s The Slang of the Pacific Northwest?
Pacific Northwesterners never go to the “beach;” they drive to “the coast.” “Hella” has moved from California to the younger generations of Oregon and Washington.
It’ll be interesting to see how our Pacific Northwesterner English evolves. is hard to pinpoint based on accent alone. Want to hear the future? Stop by a Seattle or Portland coffee shop and people-watch.