Do Pacific Northwesterners Have An Accent? I thought this was an interesting read (even though it's from Washington State). Nothing about Crick or Creek though. Story by By Deborah Wang Do Pacific Northwesterners have an accent and what does it sound like? Listener Molly in Tacoma asked that question as part of KUOW's Local Wonder series. Molly never thought she had an accent until she moved to Virginia and was told she had one. Some regional accents are obvious. But many in the Pacific Northwest describe themselves as speaking “standard,” “normal,” or “plain” English. But is that really the case? What do the experts say? Luckily for us, we have one of the world’s foremost experts on Pacific Northwest English right here on the University of Washington campus. Professor Alicia Wassink is director of the school’s sociolinguistics laboratory. She laughed in response to Molly’s question, and then said yes, everybody has an accent. Ours may be subtle, but if you know what to listen for, it’s definitely there. In fact, researchers have recently examined more closely at how people speak throughout the region and are finding that accents can vary between Oregon, western and eastern Washington. Vowels And Mergers For decades, scholars didn’t pay much attention to how people in the Pacific Northwest spoke. Linguistic textbooks grouped everyone from the Western United States together into one regional dialect. Wassink grew up in Philadelphia, and when she arrived here 17 years ago, she suspected that wasn’t quite right. One piece of evidence? Transplants like herself sometimes misunderstood the locals. She told the story of a student from Rhode Island who, when he arrived on campus, was invited to a party. He baked a cake, which he thought was the party’s theme. “And when he got there he was shocked to discover that he had brought entirely the wrong thing to the party,” Wassink explained. “He thought that he was being invited to a ‘cake’ party, and he was being invited to a ‘keg’ party.” Wassink wanted to know whether the confusion between words like "cake" and "keg" was widespread. Read the whole thing and listen to some audio. Read more about Do Pacific Northwesterners Have An Accent?