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My Turn: Lawn Guylanders must remember to accentuate the positive

So, Long Islanders have the “least sexy accent,” according to a survey from Big 7 Travel. Apparently, no one spoke to Christie Brinkley before compiling this survey.

Reading Fred Bruning’s August piece, titled "Apparently, our accent is the pits," inspired me to offer the following thoughts on the survey.

With apologies to friends and family residing in the Boston area (they finished second in the survey), I question their standing and simply reply: “You’re way off taaarget!”

Long Islanders have long been the source of comic fodder (or as they say in Boston, “faader”) for their accent. Those of us who have attended college at a campus off of Long Island know all too well the humiliation of having been victims of “accent abuse.”

We’ve been teased unmercifully. “Say cawfee!” They’ll demand. Our reply, “Only if you say orrr-ang-juice!” I guess it didn’t help our cause when we referred to any place north and west of New York City as “upstate.” “I’m from Poughkeepsie,” they’d insist. “It’s not upstate!”

I attended college at SUNY Brockport back in the late seventies and early eighties. My major (don’t laugh) was broadcasting. For two long years, speech instructors would put my speaking skills under intense scrutiny because of my “Lawn Guyland” accent.

“We must get rid of your regionalism!” they would say emphatically. “That won’t work in the real world,” they’d insist. My response at the time? Tell that to Barbara Walters and Tom Brokaw. Welcome to the real world!

Having had a short career in radio in the early 1980s, I then transitioned from broadcasting to the teaching field. Once again, I apologize to our friends and family in the Boston area when I recall a professional development workshop I attended at that time. It featured an educational video with a demonstration from a teacher with a thick New England accent. As the lesson went on, many of us became increasingly distracted by the accent of the instructor.

“Now Chaarlie! How faar must they go to reach the paark?” A distinctive accent? Yes! Worthy of being named second place in the “Most Sexy” category? I think not! What’s the distinction between Bostonians and Long Islanders? As Newsday quoted Timothy Michael as having written on News 12 Long Island’s Facebook page, “I prefer chawclet to chaaaklet!”

On the topic of the previously mentioned confection, the manager of Munday’s restaurant in Huntington noticed Billy Joel strolling past the eatery one day and invited him in. The piano man responded, “You got mawlteds?” She assured him that they did.

A few weeks later, Billy Joel stopped in to Munday’s with the family. He ordered a burger and a malted. Of course, as even the most novice music fan can attest to, Mr. Joel’s Long Island accent has had very little effect on his record sales (currently surpassing the 150 million mark), not to mention his record-setting residency each month at Madison Square Garden.

So, to sum it all up, when it comes to surveys on accents, I’ll take our “Big Shot” over Big 7 any day of the week. That’s faw shaw!

Jim Lauter,

Huntington

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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