Philadelphia, PA - Many have attempted, and few have perfected the local pronunciations of key Philly terms. For example, Schuylkill, as in the river or the I-76 expressway, is skool-kill. Passyunk, the South Philadelphia avenue and neighborhood, is pash-shunk, and Water is pronounced wooder. Below are just a few tips to understanding the Philadelphia language.
- Center City /sen-ter sit-ee/noun: Philadelphia’s downtown. My hotel is in Center City, and it’s easy to get everywhere from there.
- the El /th? el/ noun: Market-Frankford Line that runs east-west (note: the subway, or Broad Street Line, runs north-south); rooted in “the elevated rail.” Hop on the El to get to Independence Mall to see where it all started.
- gravy /grey-vee/ noun: a South Philadelphia term for red Italian sauce. Villa Di Roma makes gravy like my grandmom’s.
- hoagie /hoh-gee/noun: a hero or sub sandwich. The party is sure to have hoagies, cheesesteaks, soft pretzels and the like.
- independence /in-di-pen-duhns/ noun: the state of being independent; free from control; declared in Philadelphia. Our Founding Fathers declared independence and forged a nation right in Historic Philadelphia.
- jawn /jawn/ noun: a thing, person or place; multi-purpose fill-in-the-blank word. Wave that jawn when the parade goes by.
- the Linc /th? lingk/ noun: short for Lincoln Financial Field. “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!” echoes from the Linc throughout the fall.
- Mummers /muhm-er/noun: costumed musicians and revelers who march up Broad Street on New Year’s Day; known for the Mummers strut. The Mummers Parade makes for quite a sight on New Year’s Day.
- yo /yoh/ interjection: greeting; used to get someone’s attention. Yo! Do you know who’s on top of City Hall?
- water ice /wood-er ahys/ noun: Italian ice treat. Following a full day of touring, he cooled down with a Rita’s water ice.
- Whiz Wit /Wiz-Wit/ adjective: The proper way to order a cheesesteak.
- Wooder /wood-er/ Noun: The liquid from of Di-hydrogen Monoxide, found on tap in all the best bars.
- Wawa /wah-wah/ noun : convenience store native to Philadelphia region; rated best in the country; just go there. Stop at Wawa for a hoagie before the game.
How to Speak Philly
Pronunciations: Many have attempted and few have perfected the local pronunciations of key Philly terms. Schuylkill, as in the river or the I-76 expressway, is skool-kil. Passyunk, the South Philadelphia avenue and neighborhood, is pash-shunk.
The Philadelphia Accent
Philly Accent: Water is wooder. Many words start with st- get more of a sht- treatment, so street sounds like shtreet. The pronoun “our” sounds like are, and “orange” gets the same sound at its start—are-ange. “Bagel” goes by beg-el (but soft pretzels are better; see above). And jeet? That’s how caring Philadelphians ask if a person has eaten.
how to speak philadelphian slang