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New Jersey has a bit of a reputation problem. Well, at least North Jersey does.

New Jersey has a bit of a reputation problem.

When people think of the stereotypical Joisey person (poy-son?), they are nearly always thinking of us folk from the northern third or so of the Garden State. Sopranoland.

Of course north Jersey really isn’t far removed from New York City. We and Noo Yawkiz are cultural brethren. Two peas in a pod, two bagels in a sack (with schmear).

A few useful guidelines:

1- We don’t all tawk like that. Not completely. The NY/NJ accent is, to my ears, one of the most variable regional accents in the US. In just one family (mine) one can hear the accent run the gamut from the heavy dese/dem/doze, toity-tree-and-a-toid of that guy from Brooklyn who never survives an old WWII movie, to the unevenly applied final-syllable non-rhoticity that I retain, especially when I have had a few drinks.

We do all ask for cawfee, though. In my case, regulah.

2- We are NOT overly rude. In fact we are probably less rude than the American average. What we are is direct. If we have a problem with you, we usually don’t hide it, we don’t put up a polite facade, we tell you about it up front. Having been sadly surprised by the revealed disdain of people I thought were my friends, I’ll take frankness any day. It also makes working out the differences and becoming actual friends more likely.

3- We are pretty accepting of other people. We grew up in the biggest melting pot America has ever had, the one that made a lot of people nervous about the concept. Inherent differences between people do not bother us nearly as much as does, say, the Yankees/Mets divide. We readily talk to strangers, because we meet them all the time.

Because of this we are less likely than most to have a problem with you that is based upon YOU, as opposed to what you say and do. Or that Yankees/Mets thing.

Not that we are perfect by any means. All of these traits have their dark side. When we dislike, we can be implacable and extreme about it, and most of us were raised to believe that turning the other cheek just gets you slapped twice. We can have somewhat short fuses. For many of us, intellect was not given as much social encouragement as were strength, sports prowess, aggressiveness and hard work. Our highly developed verbal skills can readily be turned towards razor-sharp sarcastic abuse if we feel angry or insulted, a demon I have personally spent many years trying to banish forever. If we do decide to be clannish, or stubborn, or willfully ignorant, we can take it to extraordinarily stupid heights.

Where I was born and raised does not define me, but it absolutely formed the lens through which I view the world. For good and ill, I am a Jersey boy, my wife a Jersey girl, and we always will be. When we visit our home state, that accent, the thickah the bettah, will always both amuse us and be a balm for our soul, an antidote to a world that just can’t completely understand.

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.

Tags: Jersey, New Jersey, Joisey, Bayonne
Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. This Bronx girl gets you Dave!

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Love your written way to describe the dialect; exact and funny. Also “bagel with a schmear” – perfect. And being from Jersey may not define you, but as you say, you will always be a Jersey boy and enjoy hearing your “mother tongue” when you are back visiting.

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