Nicole Michalik

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TODAY -- Pictured: Elmo from Sesame Street on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 -- (Photo by: Zach Pagano/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Yep, it’s true!  Erica Moody from PhillyMag got to the bottom of it and we couldn’t be happier.

 Here are the details: 

There was a Tweet which posed the question:  Why does Elmo say “paper towel roll” the way he does?

Erica writes:  The fluffy Muppet’s pronunciation of “towel” was hauntingly familiar. It sounded just like how my husband, a native Philadelphian, says the word: tal. I played the clip for him, and he found it unremarkable; the words sounded totally normal to him.

As it turns out, the actor voicing Elmo these days is none other than Philadelphia-born Ryan Dillon, who took over the role from longtime Elmo-teer Kevin Clash in 2013. Naturally, I reached out to Dillon to get the tal lowdown, but Elmo wasn’t eager to enter into Twitter debate about linguistics. So instead I turned to Grant Berry, a sociolinguist at Villanova University, for a definitive expert opinion.

Berry started, naturally, with “wooder,” which he says is “a really salient feature of Philadelphia English. When Elmo says ‘plastic water bottle,’ his vowel isn’t quite as high as I might expect for true Philly ‘wooder,’ but it’s definitely raised.” Elmo’s pronunciation of towel, however, “is definitely Philly,” Berry says. “In towel and roll, you almost don’t hear the ‘L’ at the end of them.” This phenomenon, known as “L-vocalization,” is a standard feature of Philadelphia English. Youse guys swallow the “l’s” at the ends of words when they follow a vowel.