History of World War Two Told Through Letters
A nice little article/tv clip about chronicling New York accents (Thanks Maher!):
I studied Oral History, in part, because I missed hearing my grandpa’s accent (not a NY one) and felt like it made up such a big part of how I identified him. Alex was almost completely blind by the time I was growing up and I never really thought about how much he would have needed to rely on the sound of someone’s voice to know who he was talking to. “Who’s that?” he would ask.
“It’s me, Grandpa.”
“Oh hello, Chippie Choopie.”
My Grandma Sophie has a bit of a NY accent. “Bottle” is pronounced without T’s. Instead there is a kind of full-stop in the middle of the word, like getting hit in the stomach while speaking: bah-ul. She would tell a story and explain, “Now, this was all happening in Jewish.” (Jewish meaning Yiddish).
It is so difficult to remember the details of someone’s speech. But patterns, accents and catch phrases contribute so much to how we all understand each other. The letters leave it up to us to fill in the sound for ourselves.