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Even native English speakers now sound slightly Latino. 

For decades, Florida's most well-known dialect was the one made famous by author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Called "Florida Cracker" by white natives, it's now spoken mostly in the Panhandle and a few other shrinking spots throughout the rest of the state. But it turns out that at the very same time the cracker dialect was declining (thanks largely to in-migration from other parts of the country), Miami was developing a dialect so distinct from the rest of the state that residents of Broward County (only one county north of Miami-Dade) are capable of noticing the difference. 

The Miami Herald explains how five decades of migration from Cuba, the Caribbean, and Central America makes the city's dialect unique: 

The difference in the Miami sound lies primarily in the vowels, which have a certain affinity with Spanish pronunciation. English has 11 different vowel sounds, while Spanish only has five. English words like “man” and “hand” include a long nasal “A” sound that doesn’t exist in Spanish. Miamians now pronounce these words with a subtly Spanish shading a bit more like “mahn” and “hahnd.”

Miami’s “L” is a bit different from the rest of the country’s, too. Miamians tend to have a slightly heavier “L” — a bit more like the Spanish “L” — than most Americans. It can be heard in the way they drag the “Ls” in “Lauderdale” or “literally.”

Rhythm is also a factor. In Spanish words, all syllables are equally long, while English syllables fluctuate in length. The difference is only milliseconds, but it’s enough to be noticeable.

Florida International University sociolinguist Phillip Carter emphasized to the Herald that the Miami dialect isn't an accent, because the people who speak the dialect are second, third and fourth generation Miami natives. "These are native speakers of English who have learned a variety influenced historically by Spanish," Carter told the paper. Increasingly, literature about the way Miamians speak also makes the case that it's a dialect, and not an accent. The distinction is technical as well as political: Immigrants have accents, natives have dialects; an accent is something you try to lose, a dialect is something you use to define your cultural and geographical heritage. 
 
The Herald's treatment of the Miami dialect is definitely an improvement over previous attempts to describe the way Miami natives talk. As recently as 2004, local media in South Florida were writing about the "Miami accent" as a novelty

J.J. Revuelta's rude awakening came when he left his Southwest Miami-Dade home for the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Some strangers from up north gave Victor Morillo the shocking news during a cruise.

And Rod Mendoza was 19 before someone broke it to him, just last week.

"I have an accent?" he asked, in the surprised but suspicious tone of someone who's just been told his parents have been putting the presents under the Christmas tree. "I don't get outside of Miami, so I never noticed this accent. I notice French accents."

But you don't have to go all the way to Gainesville (which is 335 miles to the northwest, or about the driving distance between Richmond and Manhattan) to find Floridians who see the Miami dialect as exotic. The Herald tells the story of a girl who traveled just one county north of Miami-Dade and was asked to play the "now say this word" game. 
 
It's almost ironic that in a state populated by snowbirds from New York, Boston, and New Jersey—all with their own distinct American English dialects—Florida's strongest native dialect is considered foreign. And, sadly, something to lose: Every story about the dialect includes an expert or two arguing the benefits of learning to speak Standard American English.
 
For an exaggerated example of the Miami dialect, check out this video:
 

Top image: A man walks by a mural in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.

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