Today is the anniversary of Chicago’s incorporation as a city in 1837. In honor of this day, I am republishing this piece.
Ode to the Voice of Chicago.
Congenital mutant muppets who come to Chicago from someplace else, speaking the King’s English, think and posit the Chicago accent is the worst in the country. They forget we kicked the King’s ass out of America and his oh-so-proper Brit Twit language.
The Chicago accent is a voice.
It is a strong voice.
It is a proud voice.
It is the voice of all the immigrants and races who settled here.
It is the voice of the neighborhoods.
It is the voice of the streets, sidewalks, streets, stoops, playgrounds, athletic fields, and stadiums.
It is the voice of the cigar chompers.
It is the voice of the factory workers.
It is the voice of the blue-collar workers, laborers, ditch diggers, hod carriers, and other tradespeople.
It is the voice of the cops, firefighters, and paramedics.
It is the voice of the neighborhood saloon, bar, pub, tavern.
It is the voice of shot and beer drinkers.
It is the voice of mayors and aldermen.
It is the voice of the people working hard to survive.
It is the voice of the steel mills.
It is the voice of the small grocers, bakers, hot dog vendors, deli owners, and butchers.
It is the voice of the afternoon and midnight shifts.
It is the voice of the cab driver.
It is the voice of the smelt fishermen.
It is the voice of the bleacher bums.
It is the voice of sixteen-inch softball players.
It is the voice of the horseshoe pits.
It is the voice of our grandfathers and fathers.
It is the voice of the horseplayers, craps players, poker players, and other gamblers.
It is the voice of people with callouses on their hands and dirt under their nails.
It is the voice of the tired, who toil to earn a meager living.
It is the voice celebrated in Chicago literature by Nelson Algren, James T. Farrell, and Saul Bellow.
It is the voice of artists and musicians.
It is the voice of professionals who grew up in this city.
It is the voice of the voiceless.
It is the immigrant voice- “The door open please, so out go I.”
The Chicago accent is not just one voice.
It is the voice of many.
It is a chorus, rich and melodic.
It is Chicaga, the frunch room, the stoop, cuz, da, dees, dem, doz, dat, dere, udder.
It is words like wanna, hafta, woncha, gotta, gonna, outta.
It is ged, goin, gimme, didja, couldya wouldja, canya, tellya, sez, and scrooten.
It is aks, gid, and wit.
It is teefs, hoors, yoots.
It adds an s to the pronouns and titles like yous, Field’s, and Jewel’s.
It is the sout side and nort side or souf side and norf side.
It is da old neighborhood.
There are goofs, mooks, mamelukes, chumbalones, jamokes, and Mickey da Mopes.
There are sanguiches, samiches, and strimps.
It is pop, not soda.
It is the icebox, not the refrigerator.
It is the voice of dat guy. You know dat guy. Not dat guy, the udder guy, da guy dat does doz tings. Da guy who never has to be aksed to do sumptin for udder people.
The Chicago voice is us.
Thou shalt not insult the voice of the people of Chicago. Do so at your peril. Our voices will rise against ya. We will strike back atcha cuz dat’s what we gotta do.
By the way, Chicago dialect is the voice of a Columbia-educated Harvard Law School graduate who became a United States president, Barrack Obama.
Case fucking closed.