How to Avoid Looking like a complete Tourist in Boston

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A funny essay about how people talk in boston

Submitted: May 29, 2012

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Submitted: May 29, 2012



Kelly Christopher


How to Avoid Looking like a Complete Tourist in Boston


In 2008 my family and I moved to the lovely little town of Ipswich Massachusetts. Ipswich is located within about 20 miles of Boston. So about once a month my family and I would take the “T” into Boston and visit Quincy Market, The Boston Science Museum, and the Freedom Trail. Of course when we originally started going to all of these places we were complete tourists. The fact that we were not from Boston was terribly obvious. But, after living outside of Boston for about a year we developed some skills to forever avoid looking like a tourist.

  1. The “T” stands for train, or the subway. When asking a person where it’s located, never ask for the train or subway. You will just sound stupid if you do that.
  2. When on the “T” you will pass the towns of Peabody, Danverse, Glouchester, and Haverhill. The following are the proper ways to pronounce those towns:

Peabody= Pea-biddy

Danverse= Dan-vass (try not to pronounce the “r” so much.)

Glouchester= Glow-stah

Haverhill= Hayv-ril

One time my Mom, a very intelligent English teacher, was looking for a particular store located in Haverhill. On her way, she got lost, so she pulled over to a Mobil gas station to ask for directions to Haverhill. Being new in town she pronounced the name “Haver-hill”. The cashier had no idea what she was talking about until finally he said in a thick Boston accent “Ohhhh you mean Hayv-ril ? You must be from outta town.” In retelling the story she was appalled at the way people would treat her as if she was stupid for pronouncing a word in correct English.

  1. How to talk, and understand the proper Bostonian
  1. First, do not pronounce the letter “r”, especially if it is at the end of the word.

For example “Park the car in Harvard yard” is to be said “Paak the Caa in Haavaad yahhd”.

  1. Second, when asking for directions, if you don’t understand, just nod and then go ask someone else. There are people in boston who don’t actually have accents.
  2. Looking for a waterfountain? Ask for the bubbler.
  3. Don’t know what a carrige is? It’s a shopping cart.

My family and I have spent countless hours (hoars) making fun of the Boston accent to finally get it down to where we could understand a person with a very thick one.

  1. Never. Under any circumstances. I’m quite Serious. Ever. Do the Following:
    1. Wear sneakers (especially white). Nothing screams tourist like a pair of white sneakers. My Dad would always wear them into Boston…it was embarrassing.
    2. Wear a Yankees cap….It’s the home of the red Sox.
    3. Walk slow. If you walk slow you will make people very, very mad. I know from personal experience.
    4. Take your time ordering a cup of coffee. Boston is a city. The city is fast pace and people MUST have their coffee.

After living outside of Boston and traveling their quite often, my family and I learned the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of fitting in. We had a lot of fun over the years making fun, and acting like we were from the city. So, if you follow those steps, you should fit right in.

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