The New York Times

The New York Times 16 Apr 2020

What Makes a New York Accent?

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The #BestNYAccent challenge on Instagram brought out the sound of an unflappable city.


NBC's Anne Thompson reports from Lenox Hill hospital in New York City where makeshift morgues are being set up as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continues to grow. Aired on 4/2/2020.
New York City area hospitals have been filling with patients suffering, and many times dying, from COVID-19-related illnesses. A doctor working inside one of these hospitals, tells us what kind of changes have they had to make to not become overwhelmed.
New York City area hospitals have been filling with patients suffering, and many times dying, from COVID-19-related illnesses. A doctor working inside one of these hospitals, tells us what kind of changes have they had to make to not become overwhelmed.
Walks, shopping, jogging, yoga? We speak with a few New Yorkers on what they miss the most.

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“Y’alls want to hear the best New York accent?”
“Best New York accent.”
“Best New York accent.”
“So last week, I noticed that Nico Heller, who’s
someone I follow on Instagram, was putting together a best
New York accent challenge.”
“All these people are emailing
me this link to apply for a New York accent
contest on Instagram.”
“You’re worried about a [expletive] New York accent?”
“I’m like, apply for an accent contest on Instagram?”
“You don’t have nothing else better to do?”
“So Nicholas Heller, New York Nico, his subjects
are often characters who are just literally
on your corner.”
“Listen, my buddy Nico, got a thing
going on about the best New York accent.”
“Nico told me he was putting together a best New York
accent contest.
You already know.”
“I got the best New York accent, New York Nico.”
“Shoutout to New York Nico.
Ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah.”
“For the past four or five years,
I’ve been running this Instagram account called
New York Nico, where I go out every day
and just find New York City talent.”
“New York.”
“Talent can be a street performer, a store owner.
Anything and everything is a talent.
I’ve been able to give these talented New Yorkers
the boost they deserve.
A lot of them have gone on to be
on ‘Ellen’ and ‘Wendy Williams.’”
“New York Nico — shoutout to him, though.”
“I mean, it’s obviously been really
tough not being able to go out and document the city,
but I’m trying to make lemonade with lemons.”
“My daughter tells me this guy [expletive] Nico from New York
is looking for people that talk
like they’re from New York.”
“Maybe half of the videos start off,
‘I don’t even know why I'm doing this.’’’
“Stop with this Insta-[expletive]-gram and get
a real [expletive] job, will you, please?”
“At first, it was tough to get people to submit.
I had to beg —
not beg, but I had to ask my friend, Wayne Diamond.”
“Because I think I got a great [expletive]
accent because I’m [expletive] great.”
“And next thing you know, celebrities are submitting,
like Chazz Palminteri and Debi Mazar.”
“Hey, Nico.”
“Kathrine Narducci.”
“Hey, Nico.”
“Alec Baldwin.”
“Whoa.”
“And I’m the judge, all right?
Because if I participated in it, I would easily win.”
“Myself, Princess Nokia and Michael Rapaport
are the main judges.
We narrowed the thousand-plus submissions to 24.
Then from there, it was kind of like a
March Madness-style bracket.
Wiki from Manhattan …”
“What’s good, y’all?”
“… would go against Mero from the Bronx.”
“Pump your brakes, my G, because —”
“And Slik Nik the Ruler won Brooklyn.”
“If you don’t use your hands when you talk,
is it even a New York accent?”
“Chase Money Mars won Bronx.”
“Man, I had everybody talking about,
they got the best New York accent and all that.
I said, duh, of course —”
“Yess_fierceness won Staten Island.”
“And to be honest, I think I’m like the best contender.”
“Wiki won Manhattan.”
“You know what it is:
straight Boricua,
straight Irish.”
“Imani Brammer won Queens.”
“So I was talking to him, talking to him.
I’m like, you was in my DMs last night,
so [expletive] ah-ah-ah.
And he was like —”
“Well, everyone thinks that the second-place winner,
Rob Agri, was robbed.”
“For the city that never sleeps,
we’re just taking a nap, but we can still
be united in the way that we yap.”
“I can’t say that anyone got robbed.
I think, you know what?
I take that back.
I think Wayne Diamond got robbed.”
“I mean, come on.
I am a beautiful person.”
“He got knocked out in the first round.
But hey, what are you going to do?
Charlie the Wolf went against this 9-year-old girl
from Staten Island named Sienna.”
“Yeah.
I don't know what coffee is.
I know what ‘cawfee’ is.”
“Charlie only won by 11 votes.”
“I’m 74 years old and I don’t give a [expletive].”
“Let’s talk about profanity.”
“I think you’re a [expletive] moron.”
“What the [expletive] are you doing?”
“You’re [expletive] bugging, you know what I mean?”
“Profanity is music, of course.”
“So don’t for one second think I’m on some funny [expletive]
because I can show up to your grandma’s building
and smack the [expletive] out of you.”
“I didn’t hear any negativity in any of this.
Cursing, to me, is not a sign of negativity.
Confrontation is not a sign of negativity.”
“You sound like you just stepped off
the [expletive] subway.”
“You want a bacon, egg and [expletive] cheese?”
“People have this misconception
that New Yorkers are rude, and I couldn’t
agree with that less.
And you see it now,
especially during a crisis: Everyone’s
coming together to help one another.”
“And not for nothing, let’s be real.
You flew here and I grew here, period.”
“Look, resilience is part of what made this challenge so
interesting, right?
There is nothing but joy in these videos.”
“It’s always important to have pride for where you’re from,
but now, more than ever, it’s essential.”
“We’re all winners.
There’s no losers here.
Nothing but winners because New York forever.”
“It can’t be described by no face, race or color.
You just know when you hear it because it
sounds like no other.”
“But keep doing what y’all do, you smell me?”
“And you smell New York, you feel New York,
you hear New York and you love New York.
Bye.”
“I am very upset that I don’t have a New York accent.
I really wish I did. I really wish I did.”

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