In my last post I mentioned how much I enjoyed the way those native to New England say the word orange. I have many, many stories about the language and accent on that side of our country (and my interaction with it), but by far the best centers around the pronunciation of the word “orange”
As I have mentioned, I say “ornj”. In New England, they not only pronounce the “a” in orange, they also overemphasize the “or”. That, combined with pronouncing anything with an “r” as a harsh “ah”, the word “orange” comes out sounding like “ahhh-ranj”. I found that most prevalent in Rhode Island.
For about a year, I lived in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence, RI. Well known for its Italian restaurants, my roommate and I ate an abundance of Italian food while moving in and getting settled. After a few weeks we got the hankering for some Chinese food but had not a clue where to go. My roommate remembered that we had received an advertisement in our mail about a Chinese restaurant that delivered. We decided to call in our order for delivery. Since we didn’t have a menu we agreed upon a general order of beef and broccoli, orange chicken, and some rice – regular fare at a Chinese restaurant.
I called the number on the advertisement and a man with a very thick Chinese accent answered. I asked to place an order for delivery. After taking down our address, he asked what we wanted. That conversation went like this….
Me: Do you have beef and broccoli?
Me: Ok, we’d like an order of that. We’d also like some “ornj” chicken.
Man: What was that?
Me: “Ornj” chicken. Do you have “ornj” chicken? Like “ornj” flavored chicken. (Trying to remember what it was called in other Chinese restaurants I’d been to).
Man: (struggling to understand) Uhhhh
Then an idea popped into my head. I turned on my New England accent (which I usually only brought out if I’d been drinking).
Me: “Ahhhh-ranj” chicken. Do you serve “ahhh-ranj” chicken?
Man: Oh, yes, yes! (He said in his broken English.) We have “ahhh-ranj” chicken.
I finished the order but couldn’t help giggling. Even an English language learner was saying “ahhh-ranj”.
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