Important Phone Numbers You'll Need in Boston.

  • RBS Chairman, David Trumbull (AREA CODE 617) ATlantic 5-6004
  • Parker House Hotel (AREA CODE 617) 227-8600
  • Gilberti Bail Bonds, Waltham (781) 899-6880
  • Master Chimney Sweepers, Quincy (617) 328-1365
  • Newbury Electrology --eyebrow shaping and correction a specialty--, Boston (617) 262-9199
  • Atlas Elevator Service, Stoneham (781) 662-2020
  • A J Spears Funeral Home, Cambridge (617) 876-4047

    Bostonian to English Phrase-Book.

    Food and Drink
  • Coffee regular [QWAO-fee REG-luhr]: American-style coffee with milk and sugar. Blame it on the Boston Tea Party perhaps, but in Boston we drink coffee, never tea. In the summer we drink iced coffee. The Taj Hotel (which Bostonians call the Ritz Carleton and which should not be confused with the Ritz Cartleton, which Bostonians call the new Ritz) and the Four Seasons each have a very fancy --and pricey-- afternoon "tea" at which you will get about the worse brewed tea you've ever tasted. Stick with coffee while in Boston.
  • Packy: Package store, known in the rest of American as a liquor store.
  • Tonic [TWAON-ik]: Any soda such as cola, gingerale, etc. If you want tonic (as for a gin and tonic) you have to ask to ask for "tonic water."
  • American Chop Suey: Elbow macaroni with tomatoes sauce, ground beef, and grilled green peppers. Every little luncheonette serves it at least once a week.
  • Chowder: Whether fish or clam it is ALWAYS made with milk; if you want a tomato-based chowder, go to New York [FRIG'n Noo YAWK]
  • Scrod: Whatever white fish is the fresh catch of the day. A lady got in a taxi cab at Logan Airport heading in to town to get dinner; she asked the driver where is the best place to get scrod. "The combat zone," replied the driver, "but I didn't know it had a past participle."
  • Frappe: A mixture of ice cream, milk, and syrup; what the rest of America calls a milk shake. In New England a milk shake is milk flavored with syrup.
  • Moxie: The quintesential New England tonic (soft drink); you'll either love it or hate it.
  • Sam: Samuel Adams Brewing Company, the local beer.
  • Common Victualler [VIT-ler]: A restaurant or other establishment licensed to serve meals ready to eat on the premises.
  • Pub: An establishment licensed "to sell or expose or keep for sale alcoholic beverages or alcohol to be drunk on the premises" (Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 138 Section 2.
  • Bar: A fancy pub such as those in hotels or fashionable among the smart young set. What's the difference between a pub and a bar; about two-fifty to five dollars a drink.
  • Spa: [1] A small (usally mon-and-pop owned and run and usually on a street corner) convenience store. [2] An over-priced beauty salon on Newbury Street.

    Getting Around and Getting the News

  • The T: The MBTA = The subway or trolley.
  • The MTA: The MBTA.
  • The rattler: The MBTA.
  • The Red (Green, Blue, or Orange) Line: The MBTA.
  • Route 128: Interstate 95.
  • Boylston Street, Cambridge: J. F. K. Street, Cambridge.
  • Southie: South Boston, a blue-collar Irish neighborhood that is becoming gentrified; not to be confused with the South End, an old Yankee and lace-curtain Irish neighborhood that is already completely gentrified.
  • Boston Public Garden and Boston Common (usually simply, "the Common"): please note there is only one of each; no "s" at the end.
  • Jordan Marsh: Macy's.
  • Filene's: Macy's.
  • Macy's: A department store at Broadway and 34th Street in New York [Noo YAWK]; no one in Boston calls the Macy's in Boston, Macy's.
  • Record American: The Boston Herald newspaper (after all the merger was a mere twenty-some years ago, you can't expect us to change overnight do you?)
  • Herald Traveler: The Boston Herald newspaper (merged even longer ago, but many older Bostonians refuse to acknowledge it.)
  • That Murdock rag: The Boston Herald newpaper (Murdock sold it years ago, but readers of the rival Globe are convinced he's still somehow behind it).
  • The Boring Broadsheet: The Boston Globe newspaper.
  • The Globe/The Glob: The Boston Globe newspaper.
  • The lolly-pop building: A certain building in the Financial District that used to have a modernistic spoke-and-circle sculpture in front, but it was removed a decade and a half ago.
  • Shawmut Bank: Bank of America.
  • Bay Bank: Bank of America.
  • Bank Boston: Bank of America.
  • Fleet Bank: Bank of America.
  • Harvard Trust: Bank of America.
  • Bank of Boston: Bank of America.
  • Bank of America: Bank of America, but no one calls it that.
  • New England Telephone and Telegraph: Verizon.
  • Nynex: What New Yorkers [Noo YAWK-ahs] used to call New England Telephone and Telegraph before it became Verizon.
  • AT&T: Another name for New England Telephone and Telegraph before it became Verizon.
  • Verizon: They're located in the New England Telephone and Telegraph building in Post Office Square in the Financial District; stop by and see the mural that depicts the history of the telephone, which was invented in Boston!
  • The Statler Hotel: The Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
  • Park Plaza Hotel or Boston Park Plaza Hotel what the current owners and out-of-towners call the Statler Hotel. When Bostonians hear "plaza" and "hotel" in the same sentence they immediately assume you mean the Plaza in Noo Yawk.
  • The Tremont House [TRE-munt (note the short "e"): Courtyard Boston Tremont Hotel.
  • Courtyard Boston Tremont Hotel: Never heard of it. Oh, that's right, that's what the new owners call the Tremont House. The name was officially changed sometime in the 1990s.
  • The Gas Tanks: A gayly painted gas tank near Quincy Bay along side the Southeast Expressway and the Red Line T (there used to be two of them back several years ago, hence the vestigial plural).

    About that Boston Accent.

    . First off, I was not born and reared in New England, so I don't have the accent. Secondly there are several distinct New England accents and even in the greater Boston metropolitan region there are many variants on the accent depending on ethnic background, education, and income. My wife Mary was born and reared just 30 miles from Boston and she has a moderately strong Merrimack Valley ("Mingya Valley") accent which is very different from a Boston accent and would never be mistaken for one. In the Mingya Valley accent "mine" is pronounced "mayan." ("Mingya," if you are interested is the all-purpose expletive in the cities and towns of the Merrimack River Valley where many South Italians settled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; it's a dirty word in Sicilian.)

    So what is the "Boston accent?" Well it does have something to do with the "R." Sometimes a final R or R before a consonant is dropped; sometimes merely feebly pronounced. And sometimes they pop up where you least expect them. I once heard a politician state, comparing his party to the other party: "Ou-ah (our) idears (ideas) ah (are) bettah than the-ah (their) idears (ideas)." The thing is that the R does weird things in just about every variety of English and in many other languages too. In Boston English, as in all variants of English, the R affects the vowel preceeding it. That's why no Bostonian would ever confuse "bar" and "bah" (as in bah, humbug); it's alot more complicated than simply dropping the R.

    Distinctive to the New England accent is the dropping of the "H" in the "WH" combination. In most of the rest of the country there is at least some remnant of a class/education distinction, with the preferred (although not always observed) pronunciation giving equal weight to both the W and the H and the dropping of the H being something of a lower class phenomenon. Among native New Englanders educated in New England the H is always dropped. Also distinctive to the New England accent is the substitution of a pure vowel for the diphthong that most Americans employ for the long U: thus in New England the "new" is NOO, rather than the more standard NYOO. Of course, that variant crops up in other regions, especially as less preferred pronunciation, but in New England it is ubiquitous.

    The final distinguishing characteristic of the Boston accent is that the vowels tend to hold their values; For example the words merry and Mary are pronounced with a clear distinction. It is also the only American English accent that preserves the short O, which is what gives it a vaguely British sound. Thus "father" and "bother" have distinctly different vowels in Boston English, but not in most of the rest of the county, where they rhyme. That "Britishness" comes out also in the short A which in some words (for example, "bath") is like the A in "father."