“What differentiates the accents is not geographic so much, especially nowadays, because people don’t stay put in one neighborhood their whole lives,” she says. “It’s ethnic.”

Quinlan says some of the best examples come from movies: James Cagney’s Irish New York accent, Woody Allen’s Jewish accent in Annie Hall, and the Puerto Rican accent portrayed by Rosie Perez in Do The Right Thing.

But these iconic ways of speaking are becoming more rare on the island of Manhattan in particular, says linguist Dan Kaufman, who co-curated “Mother Tongues,” a new exhibit about the decline of New York accents at the City Lore gallery.