Even some people who live in the suburbs of Boston have a difficult time getting the accent right. For example, where I grew up (25 minutes from the city by highway), people do not have a strong Bostonian accent. Throughout elementary school everybody spoke with a very standard American English accent. In fact, we used to think that my parents, who are from Boston, spoke very oddly and in general laughed at kids with Boston accents.

However, when we hit junior high school, we went to the regional high school, and there were cool kids from the neighboring town, which was a little less upscale—the "cool kids" from that town had Boston accents. And so throughout junior high school there was this phenomenon of hearing kids from my town whose names are things like Jessica Smith or Robbie Herrick, really white-bread waspy suburban kids whose families were not from Boston to begin with, who for the sake of coolness went around all day speaking with laughably poor Boston accents so that they could be accepted by the kids from the other town.

Some more quirky Boston pronunciations (a lot of which are dying out with kids of my generation):

  • mine is pronounced "mayan"
  • Filenes (a department store chain) is pronounced "faleans"
  • potatoes is pronounced "puddaydiz"
  • going is pronounced as "go win"- in fact the "g" on many words ending in "-ing" is often not pronounced
  • "can't" is sometimes pronounced with a short "a" rather than with a longer "a" as in standard American English. In other words, as Riptor pointed out below, some words have a pronunciation closer to British English than to American English.

I have to say that probably the current Boston accent is a mixture of the English spoken by the earlier English settlers of the area with that of later Irish immigrants (I base this on the fact that my grandmother, who is Irish, as well as a lot of the other Irish people I know, speaks the most "ideal" Boston English) but this is a subject that definitely merits further study.