Strawberries, Maryland and your mother play a starring role in this edition of What’s With Washington, in which we answer a question posed by several listeners: Does the Washington D.C. region have an accent?
It turns out Washington is a tough place for linguists to tease out the real accent. It is one of the most transient cities in the country, and most people who live in D.C. actually grew up in other places around the country. This causes real problems for linguists.
“The problem of course with D.C., and it has been this way for a long time, is it is so confounded by the influx of people who were not born and raised in D.C.,” says Walt Wolfram, a professor at North Carolina State University. Wolfram is one of the pioneers of research on social and ethnic dialects, and he spent decades in Washington. Having so many not-from-around-here residents “obscures things that you might think of as originally Washington D.C.”