The melting pot of immigrants who settled in New Orleans is reflected in the city’s language. New Orleans’ relative isolation allowed it to remain unaffected by the Southern accent common in neighboring states. New Orleans’ accent is often compared to that of Brooklyn’s because both were shaped by the Germans, Irish and Italians who moved here.
New Orleanians may pronounce “talk” as “tawk”, “there” as “dere” and “oyster” as “erster.”
New Orleans also has its own vernacular — a mixture of phrases that don’t make sense to people who don’t live here.
Sometimes French words and phrases – like “lagniappe”, “faubourg,” “picayune” and “laissez les bon temps rouler,” reflect the remnants of the city’s first language.
Other phrases, like “where y’at” “Dressed,” “yeah, you right,” and “ya mom ‘n’ em,” and “neutral ground,” are indigenous to the city.
From A. J. Liebling's book The Earl of Louisiana, in a passage that was used as a foreword to A Confederacy of Dunces.:
"There is a New Orleans city accent . . . associated with downtown New Orleans, particularly with the German and Irish Third Ward, that is hard to distinguish from the accent of Hoboken, Jersey City, and Astoria, Long Island, where the Al Smith inflection, extinct in Manhattan, has taken refuge. The reason, as you might expect, is that the same stocks that brought the accent to Manhattan imposed it on New Orleans."