“If Those Knishes Could Talk” is a new documentary about the history and future of New York accents. It’s a bit diffused and wanders off the point, but it’s still a loving look at the way the New York accent developed and continues to morph.
The film raises a debate: is the accent about the boroughs or does it differ by ethnic group? I like the arguments that went for the latter–the Irish, the Italian, the Jewish, the Puerto Rican, the German New York accent. Some compelling evidence abounds. The Korean man who sounds just like the Italians he grew up around on Staten Island. The Bangladeshi girl who fits in just fine with her Latina girlfriends. Great stuff.
My favorite insight? The deaf sign in accents. And the New York accents vary according to the debate above. There are particular signs for New York slang and distinctive signs for neighborhoods.
And then there’s Twitter. Linguistics are now studying language patterns among the Twitter feed. Dat sux!
So look out for it. It’s not a perfect film, but the nostalgia and stories are a lot of fun. Plus you’ll get a kick hearing from the literary and filmmaker celebrities. Here’s a taste for you: