Is there a San Francisco accent? According to a 1984 article written by then Chronicle reporter Carl Nolte, there is a unique San Francisco way of speaking. Or at least, there was.
"There is a distinctive San Francisco way of talking and it is important to make note of it, for the record, before it becomes as dead as Latin," Nolte wrote, saying that even then native San Franciscans were losing their culture due to the rising influx of out-of-towners. Chief among the features of a real San Franciscan was a tendency to string words together, avoid the San Francisco Magazine at all costs and of course never, ever call it "Frisco."
The article captures a now long-lost language which we're reading as if in a North Dakota accent, just for fun. Here are some things a native San Francisco might have been heard saying:
"If those guys up there are so smart, what'er they doin' livin' there? People who live in Gurneyville all year are a buncha Okies anyway."
San Franciscans call the movie theater "the show," as in "I went to the show last week, and jeez, the guy behind me was coffin all through the pitcher. I couln'n' hardly stant it."
"Sampencisco," "Thecity," "Sannazay" and "Sannacruise."
Although the San Franicisco accent may have become nothing more than a linguistic footnote, certain behaviors and characterists of native San Franciscan's still hold true. For instance, Nolte's note that "'The River' is the Russian River, and no other, but 'the Lake' is Lake Tahoe only if your family was wealthy" sounds about right, as does his observation that once you've realized someone else is from S.F., your first reaction is invariably to ask what high school he or she went to, although the associations to be drawn are different than they once were.
"If, for example, the answer is "S.I." you know the man went to St. Ignatius High and was probably raised a Catholic and is from an upper-middle-class family. If the person says "Mission" or "Bal" (for Balboa High) you know he is from the Mission District, and his father was probably a member of the working class, called "a workin' man" in the San Francisco dialect. If he went to Lowell, he may well be Jewish; if he went to Galileo, he is probably a North Beach Italian, and not a Mission District Italian."
Things hella change, but not everything. "The Richmond district is always called "The Richmond," and the Sunset District is always called "The Sunset," but Noe Valley has no article in front of its name; neither does downtown or North Beach. No one knows why."