Wednesday, November 19, 2008

a little southern

I spent a lot of time in high school at speech tournaments and doing drama stuff. In doing that, I worked diligently on losing "my southern." It started when I realized that most of the people I knew recognized no difference in the words "pin" and "pen." Then I realized that most of the world equated people with deep southern accents as either dimwitted or drunk on mint juleps and bourbon. Because I wanted to do well in the tournaments, show a grasp of basic principles of pronunciation, and be viewed by others as seemingly intelligent, the southern accent was relegated to the back of my brain. It was banished...only to be encountered when I was, in fact, dimwittedly drunk on bourbon or in the presence of my family.

I spent a lot of years proud of the fact that people would tell me they barely heard my southern accent. Then Feathernester basically ruined my life.

The other night, she was recounting how much she loves to tell the story of my aunt calling me out when using my "not southern" voice when we first moved. Apparently, when talking to Feathernester and Mr. Feathernester, I would turn on the anti-southern accent so as to ease them into southern life. My aunt looked at me and asked, "why are you talking like that?" I don't remember this at all, but it stuck with Feathernester and she thought it hysterical. She then told me that, whereas she used to not detect my southern, now it's "all southern, all the time." Like I'm one of those easy listening radio stations. "All Phil Collins, all the time." Darn.

Really, I don't care too much. I still properly pronounce words like "pen" and "library."

However, I have realized that my daughter has really started elongating her words. Especially her vowels. "Babydoll" is "babydaaawwwl." "Light" is "liiiiight." Her friend Carson is "Carseeeen." I could go on and on. I worry that people will think my daughter has been hitting the bourbon hard at an early age. Someone, help us, please.

Happy hump day, peeps. Or "peeeeeeeps," as S would say.


Strongmama said...

Girl, I grew up on Long Island where the accents are just as strong (but harder on the ears). I did the same thing when I left for college so that people didn't think I was one of those cheap, cheesy people from "Lawng Ayland". For the most part, people often said, "you don't sound like you're from Long Island." And yet whenever I get together with my brother, the accent comes back immediately. It's downright awful. B loves to make fun of me and always says things like, "Hey Lawr, ya wanna go to the mawl?"

That being said, I have a knack for taking on the accents of places I have lived, so on a daily basis, there is a bit of Texas twang in my voice. I'm starting to hear it a bit in J's talking too. And I also hear a bit of Long Island in him too. Talk about conflicted!

feather nester said...

You know, I am qualified and certified to perform accent reduction therapy on all y'all. All you need to do is ask. In fact, I would say I did enough of it in graduate school to call it a semi-specialty. Anytime you want to lose those pesky southern and Long Island accents and start sounding like an upstate NY hick, you just let me know. :)

Angie said...

I remember the burbon-soaked Ouiser. She also smelled bad, had stamps on her hands from various bars from the previous night, and sometimes didn't show up at all. Because of those shenanigans, I barely remember a strong accent one way or another. Early college-aged Ouiser-many a laugh did you give us.

die Frau said...

My stepsister grew up in GA and I distinctly remember her asking for a either a "pin" or a "pen" and when I asked her to clarify, she rolled her eyes and said, "OK, could I please have a pEHn?" deliberately over-exaggerating the way I said it. This also explains the derivation of hearing my friends in VA asking for an "ink pen".

The Buffalo accent is hideous. A lot of nasal As, like "Maaahm" {Mom) and "Dee-ad" [said quickly as one word] for "Dad". Or hearing no difference between the names "Don" and "Dawn". I try desperately not to pick it up from my students. The more blue collar you are, the more distinct it gets, so there's definitely a sort of steel-mill-worker-beer-drinking-wings-eating-Buffalo-Bills-loving stereotype there.

I hear accents clearly and I hear a wonderful Southern accent when I talk to you. Screw the morons and their stereotypes; obviously you belie them as an intelligent, well-spoken woman who still loves her mama and her grits. Embrace it, sugah!