Monday, March 3, 2014

Frazetta and the Brooklyn Accent

I was asked the interesting question of what happened to Frazetta's Brooklyn accent. Every borough of New York City has its' own distinctive language pattern. Staten Island residents speak differently from people in Queens; the Bronx is different from Manhattan. Historically, the most extreme accent is spoken by the Brooklynites. Brooklyn was nationally famous for its' accent and distinctive linguistic patterns. Many many famous celebrities, scientists, and athletes all started in Brooklyn, e.g. Jackie Gleason, Michael Jordan, Barbra Streisand, Sandy Koufax, Jerry Seinfeld, Bobby Fischer, and thousands more.  Ellie and the kids still had their New York accents in varying degrees. Of course, it's only natural that kids would emulate their mother. Yes, I did specifically ask Frank about this. Frank spoke very clear unaffected English the whole time I knew him. Here is the short explanation:

"While I was growing up I noticed that all the people on television and in the movies spoke a certain way. They spoke differently from everyone I knew.  While I was in grade school some of the kids starting calling some of the other kids 'Brooklyn Hillbillies'. Minga. They teased them because of the way they talked. Some of the kids had heavy accents. It never used to bother me. I really didn't pay attention, but then I started to think about it. It did sound kind of ignorant and lower class. It was a harsh sound to my ear. Sinatra didn't sound like that, and he was from Jersey. We hated most people from Jersey, looked down on them. I don't know why, we just did.  I started to really get bothered. Did I sound like that? I asked my mom. She thought I was nuts. I started to listen more closely to the TV shows and movies. One of the movies had a guy saying 'get rid of that accent or you'll never be a success'. FucnnnnnnAaaaaaay! A light went on...I never thought about just changing how I talked. I wanted a taste of success. I wanted that sweet smell of success in my life. I was surrounded by losers. I didn't want that. I despised those guys. Real lowlifes. The next day I went to see the speech therapist at school. She was a nice old lady who no one really noticed. We thought anyone who saw her was a retard. She helped kids who had bad stutters or other problems. She was very kind and met me after school. I was scared that someone would see me. It would have led to a fight for sure. She gave me a sheet of words to practice with. She told me to look into the mirror and slowly pronounce the words. Speak everything clearly, dont drag out the syllables. She said people in Brooklyn are lazy speakers. I didnt know what she meant.
She said I had to build new mouth habits. Repetition. Practice it, just like someone would practice pitching or hitting. I did it. Actually, it wasn't easy. Very frustrating. I had to stay with it.  For weeks I stared into the mirror and kept saying that whole list of words over and over. I made sentences. It took me a few months, but I got rid of it. I can still talk Brooklyn if I need to. Why would I need to? Minghia!  Fuggettaboutit, eh?  [Frank laughs and blasts out a fusillade of choice Brooklynisms. Funny as hell. ]

(C) 2014 DocDave Winiewicz