Miami accent

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The Miami accent is an evolving American English regional accent, or sociolect-in-formation, spoken in South Florida, particularly in Dade, originating from central Miami. The Miami accent is most prevalent in younger, locally-born South Floridians who live in greater Miami and Miami Beach .[1] This ethnolect is a native variety of English.


The Miami accent developed amongst second- or third-generation Miamians, particularly young adults whose first language was English, but were bilingual. Since World War II, Miami's population has grown rapidly every decade, due in part to the post-war baby boom. In 1950, the US Census stated that Dade County's population was 495,084. Beginning with rapid international immigration and the Cuban exodus of the late 1950s, Miami's population has drastically grown every decade since then. Many of these immigrants began to inhabit the urban industrial area around Downtown Miami. By 1970, the US Census stated that Dade County's population was 1,267,792. By 2000, the population reached 2,253,362.[2] Growing up in Miami's urban center, second-, third-, and fourth-generation Miamians of the immigration wave of the 1960s and 1970s, developed the Miami accent.[1][3] It is now the customary dialect of many citizens in the Miami metropolitan area.

Phonological characteristics

The following are typical phonological (pronunciation) characteristics of the Miami accent:

  • Rhoticity (i.e. the pronunciation of the polstalveolar "R" sound in all environments), like with most American English; also, though rarely, a "rolled R" may be heard after a consonant.[4]
  • Pronunciation of About this sound /æ/ (the "short a" as in the words class, rap, hand, etc.) with the jaw and/or tongue more lowered than in a General American accent, thus approaching About this sound [a].[1]
  • Clear alveolar "L" (About this sound listen) only, unlike the relatively dark velar "L" (About this sound listen) of General American.[5]
  • High rising terminal (also known as "upspeak"): a rising intonation may be heard at the ends of declarative statements (making them sound like questions), similar to the stereotype of "Valley Girl speech."[5]
  • Cot–caught merger in transition: the vowel sounds in words like cot versus caught, clod versus clawed, pond versus pawned, etc. are beginning to merge into a single sound.[6]

It is possible to differentiate this variety from an interlanguage spoken by second language speakers in that this ethnolect does not generally display the following features:

  • There are no confusions of tense and lax vowels, outside contexts where other native speakers often vary usage.
  • There is no addition of /ɛ/ before initial consonant clusters with /s/.
  • Speakers do not confuse of /dʒ/ with /j/, (e.g., Yale with jail).
  • Speakers do not use the alveolar tap [ɾ] or alveolar trill [r] of Spanish.

Lexical characteristics

Speakers of the Miami accent may be heard to use "calques": idioms (that would sound awkward or unusual to other native English speakers). For example, instead of saying, "lets get out of the car," someone from Miami might say, "let's get down from the car". Other Miami terms especially common among Miami youth, often called "slang," include:[7]

  • Chonga: a particular South Florida Hispanic female fashion and associated youth subculture
  • Irregardless: regardless
  • Mission: anything that takes a long time (as in "What a mission!" or something being "Such a mission"); similar to the use of "a chore" in the same context
  • Supposably: supposedly
  • "Took the light": Running a yellow light in traffic
  • "Eating shit": Hanging out, or teasing someone

Notable lifelong native speakers

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Watts, Gabriella. "Miami Accents: How 'Miamah' Turned Into A Different Sort Of Twang".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Miami's Spanish-Speaking Population Outnumber English Speakers". Huffington Post. 2008-05-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "'Miami Accent' Takes Speakers By Surprise". Articles – June 13, 2004. Retrieved 2012-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Patience Haggin. "Miami Accents: Why Locals Embrace That Heavy "L" Or Not".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006). The Atlas of North American English. Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter. p. 61. ISBN 3-11-016746-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kyle Munzenrieder. "Miami Slang Glossary: Pero Like, It's Super-Definitive, Bro". Miami New Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>