E.J. White

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Elyse White
Other names *E.J. White
  • Elyse Graham White
Occupation author, English professor

Elyse White is an English professor at Stony Brook University, and author of You Talkin' to Me?: The Unruly History of New York English.[1]

White is a Fellow of the Society for the Humanities.[2]

During an interview on WSHU about her 2020 book You Talkin' To Me?: The Unruly History of New York English White confessed that when she first arrived at a New York City airport, to take up her new position at a New York City University, she was surprised to hear a New York City accent.[3] She said she thought the accent was an invention of television writers.

In its review The New York Post noted that White wrote that the New York accent was once considered a mark of distinction.[4] She attributed the decline of the accent's prestige to anti-semitism.

In its review The Economist quotes White explaining that New Yorkers regard what outsiders see as aggressiveness as merely a flattering sign of engagement and interest.[5]

In its review The Wall Street Journal quoted White's comments of the influence the New York accent had on the lyrics of the popular songs or Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter.[6]



  1. Wendy Smith. LI author talks about 'You Talkin' to Me?,' which looks at how New Yorkers speak, Newsday, 2020-06-15. Retrieved on 2021-02-24. “It’s clear from the unprintable-in-a-newspaper opening line of “You Talkin’ to Me? The Unruly History of New York English” (Oxford University Press, $19.95) that Stony Brook University assistant professor Elyse "E.J." White is comfortable combining a scholar’s measured tone with the salty vocabulary of popular speech.”
  2. Elyse Graham (EJ White) on her new book, You Talkin' To Me?, Society for the Humanities, 2020-07-27. Retrieved on 2021-02-24.
  3. Davis Dunavin. New Book 'You Talkin To Me?' Delves Into New York Accent, WSHU, 2020-08-10. Retrieved on 2021-02-24. “'I’m embarrassed to say this, but I was surprised. I did not think that the New York accent existed in real life. I thought it was made up for television,' White said. 'I apologize. That’s on me. It was a stupid thing for me to assume. But in my defense, every time you hear somebody on television talking with a New York accent, they’re a henchman. They’re not a person who exists in normal life. They’re like "Sure, boss. I can get it for ya. But it’ll cost ya!"'
  4. Larry Getlen. The ‘Noo Yawk’ accent was considered posh until anti-Semites got their way, New York Post, 2020-07-20. Retrieved on 2021-02-24. “The traditional New York accent, or Brooklynese — the accent of Archie Bunker, Travis Bickle and Mona Lisa Vito, Marisa Tomei’s fast-talking character in “My Cousin Vinny” — was once regarded as the height of sophistication.”
  5. Pride, prejudice and the story of New York English, The Economist magazine, 2020-09-19. Retrieved on 2021-02-24. “Ms White reckons a conversational manner that might be called “assertive” by, say, polite Britons, is, for New Yorkers, not rude but the opposite: a sign of engagement, and therefore of warmth. Patient, slow-paced styles can, to the New Yorker, seem aloof.”
  6. Daniel Akst. ‘You Talkin’ to Me?’ Review: Sounds of the City, Wall Street Journal, 2020-07-16. Retrieved on 2021-02-24. “Ira Gershwin said he came up with titles “by listening to the argot in everyday conversation,” and Cole Porter, Ms. White says, “filled his songs with slang and phrases of recent coinage,” including “you’re the top” and “I hit the ceiling.””

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