I'm not done with the previous discussion, but I would just like to interrupt the thought process for these totally unrelated little asides.
So, you know how I've been writing community profiles for New England Condominium? (You only know because I've told you, because so far, their website still only carries the February issue, as far as I can tell.) The community profile for the June issue is on Providence, Rhode Island. Today I had to call the Providence tax assessor's office for some information. I've lived in New England for a significant part of my existence, and I've heard Rhode Island accents for a significant part of that. But today's experience seemed notable for some reason.
The actual people I talked to had their own version of Rhode Island, of course, and it was noticeable. But the woman they used to record the message telling you which number to push in order to be directed to certain departments could seriously be considered for Ms. Providence-Accent 2008. Most of the words that you would spell with an "o" were pronounced with a flat "ah" sound. ("Plot"--this is a tax assessor kind of plot, not a book publisher kind--sounded almost like "plat"). Meanwhile, the words spelled with "a" were pronounced with that "auw" kind of sound that sounds almost New York--"If you're cauwlling about . . . " It was an interesting linguistic experience.
Furthermore, wikipedia has this interesting little tidbit:
"Providence also shares Rhode Island's propensity for coffee, as the former has the most coffee/doughnut shops per capita of any city in the country."
Take THAT, Seattle!