What’s Yat?

Now, I’ve been to New Orleans a few times. I’ve bundled up to watch the Mardi Gras floats, sweated through sultry summer nights, savored fresh-shucked oysters and sugary pralines and those innocent-tasting frozen cocktails known as Hurricanes. How could it be that I’d never heard Yat spoken? The thing is, I probably had. But to me, it just sounded like a New York accent. As National Geographic reporter Caroline Gerdes puts it, “People from New Orleans do not speak with a Southern drawl.”Yat, which is derived from the phrase “Where ya’at?” evolved in parallel with the New York accent. In the 19th Century, both New Orleans and New York attracted a similar mix of European immigrants, resulting in similar variations on spoken English. If you are interested in a more technical perspective on the Yat dialect, check out this post on dialectblog.com for a discussion of non-rhoticity, monophthongization, and the tense-lax split.Or if you’re looking for more casual reading on the Pelican State, check out the Miss Fortune adventures on Kindle Worlds by Riley Blake, Shari Hearn, Morgan Draper, Sam Cheever, Leslie Langtry, Mary Hiker, and more.

Read more: Thoughts in Progress


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