It’s been read… that Miami almost has its own dialect.

Miami English and the Linguistic Oddness of South Florida

An easy one is the word “salmon,” which in Miami is pronounced with the L: “sall-mon.” That comes directly from the Spanish word for the fish, which is, well, salmón … But that letter L gets even weirder. It turns out Spanish and English have different pronunciations of the letter, which are referred to as “light L” and “dark L.” English actually has both of them: a light L is found in words starting with L, like the word “light.” A dark L is found sometimes at the ends of words, as in the word “feel.” Say that out loud: can you hear how, in “feel,” it sounds almost like “fee-yul”? That “ull-” sound as the first part of the L sound, that’s a dark L, and it’s made with a slightly different shape of your tongue in your mouth. In Miami, all L sounds are dark, so a word like “literally” sounds more like “ull-iterally.” …

Miami English also has lots and lots of calques, which are loan phrases: essentially direct translations of Spanish phrases. In Atlanta, New York, and Seattle—actually, basically anywhere besides Miami—you get out of a car. In Miami, you get down from a car, because “down from the car” is a direct translation from the Spanish, bajar del carro… 

This is the first I’ve heard of “light L” and “dark L”. It reminds me of the Australian (and Canadian) diphthong, and I immediately want to learn more.

Also, a reminder of how fascinating calques are. Click that link, and learn why a pineapple is a pineapple, and what “the moment of truth” has to do with bullfighting.

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