Fish-talking (potential) first lady

Yesteday, Iowa governor Tom Vlisack announced his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Anyone who was reading back in my Casino [ptz] days then will remember the controversy that Vilsack’s wife unleashed when she accused South Jerseyeans of talking like fish:

“The only way I can speak like residents of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania is to let my jaw drop an inch and talk with my lips in an `O’ like a fish. I’d rather learn to speak Polish.”
Don’t youse knock NJ

Sure, she said that 12 years ago, but it’s still funny. I’m not saying she’s wrong–I know exactly the accent she’s talking about. I’m just saying that it’s funny that someone in public life was so exasperated by the characteristic speech patterns of a region that she made an issue of it.

It’s also amusing that she was careful to exclude western PA, but lumped all of New Jersey into the Philly accent area of influence. As the informative Wikipedia article Philadelphia Accent notes, this is a mistake–it is only us South Jerseyans who talk like fish (i.e., front some of their vowels, as a linguist might say). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch The Wire–anyone who talks “Baltimorese” sounds, to me, like home (it’s always great to hear Lt. Mello, the real-life Jay Landsman, talk).

I’m surprised that Michelle Malkin hasn’t mentioned fishtalk-gate, at least in passing–she went to Holy Spirit High School, which is in beautiful Absecon, NJ (right in the heart of fish-talking South Jersey). Funny note: Spirit is the traditional rival of Atlantic City High School, my alma mater, which I attended at about the same time (she might have been a senior when I was a freshman).

While I’m reliving the past, let me say that I always considered ACHS the better school, but take a look at their Wikipedia pages:

Holy Spirit High School: detailed information about the school’s legacy of academic and athletic excellence, a list of notable alums

Atlantic City High School: a note that the school exists

And not even anything about the Old High School. I’m just added a link that to that Casino Connection article, so maybe that’ll help people expand the entry a little. I know we’ve got to have some famous alumni.

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