View Full Version : New York in the 1930s

Clarissa Smith
March 1st, 2010, 08:52 AM

Isn't it so, that the English tongue, as spoken in New York, can be considered to represent the typical, moderate American English?

Personally I love the tongue of Jean Arthur. She was born in Plattsburgh, but lived and worked in New York City since she was 14 years old. Even in her Hollywood days she came back regularly, because she loved New York. I find her tongue quite beautiful and try to get out my strong (rather nasty) accent on the r-consonant - above all at word-endings.

I must admit, that my imagination of New York City comes from the 1930s. Movies like „Easy Living“ (Jean Arthur) and „Swingtime“ (Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers) are kind of sightseeing tour. I'd sure be a bit embarrassed, if I came to the real, modern New York: I'm afraid Paul Whiteman wouldn't wait for me there to get me in the right mood... :)
Back to Jean and to a point that I find extraordinary thrilling: In „Easy Living“ (1937) her pronunciation of „nicer“ once sounds like ['naısɑ:]. - To explain the situation: She bumps into her lover for the first time, but seems not to be very interested in him, so he asks her, whether they might have met at a certain ball. Then she asks whether he would have been to a certain party and after he said no she replied pretty saucy: „Too bad, it couldn't have been ['naısɑ:]“, affecting a little bit in and with her fur coat. Being saucy she is probably trying to build a wall between him and herself, but in fact that whimsical manner makes her even look cuter, so he can hardly turn away.

Maybe it's absolutely wrong, but my idea is, that this certain [ɑ:] could be a typical manner of a well mannered New York girl, when she's acting a bit whimsically? I'm afraid myself, this could be just one of those 'evil' clichés, that makes everyone in New York upset, but please forgive me.
I really love that. What would be New York without such wonderful whimsical clichés?

Have a nice day, everyone there in the New York 2010!


March 12th, 2010, 01:37 AM
Nice post!

Clarissa Smith
March 17th, 2010, 04:31 AM
Well, I guess I went quite far away into New Yorks past. Who can imagine that today? Here you can get a smell of it:

Jean Arthur again in a part of the hard-boiled working girl in EASY LIVING. She just lost her job and ran out of money.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1RHVH2ivbg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1RHVH2ivbg)

Getting that telegram, she is extraordinary lucky, in a very funny way. It's just screwball comedy.