Southern Accent Doesn’t Hold a Candle to Yankee Talk

When I was younger and I lived in Eastman, I pretty much talked like everyone else. I never thought about how I sounded until I reached high school. For some reason I became very self-conscious about speaking like a person from Eastman. So sometime during between 9th grade and 12th grade I began changing the way I spoke. I started rounding out my vowels. I started pronouncing “boil” as BOY-ull instead of BUUL. I started pronouncing “ice” as AYE-SS instead of IIIS (with a really hard long i sound). Hopefully you can figure out my phonetic re-spellings here; it’s not easy to describe with text.

However now that I am older I have begun appreciating the southern dialect more. Granted, it still grates on my nerves when I here a ridiculously hick voice come on a local radio or television commercial. But as for the typical southern speech, I have warmed up to it though I still maintain many of the speech changes I’ve made over the years. And here’s an observation: Have you ever noticed how much Yankees and people from the western states make fun of southern speech yet actors (who are not typically southern) butcher it anytime they try to imitate us? They never sound natural. What’s the matter? Is that lazy drawl just a little too difficult to pull off? We sure make it look easy, don’t we?

Now, say what you want about southern dialect, there is nothing more grating than the accent of the American north. Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio–this means you! The word is “know”, not “knoo”. “OOOH I Knooo!” And when you say the word “are” you don’t have to sound like a bloody pirate. “OOO, I bet I Knoo how old you ARR” Good grief! Here’s some Southern wisdom to live by: God made noses for smellin’, not for talkin’.

I subscribed to a podcast recently entitled Jawbone Radio because I heard that it’s really humorous and it wasn’t supposed to be crude which can be hard to come by in the world of podcasting. The show is only about forty-five minutes long but I could barely keep up with the conversation because the Ohio-Michigan accents of the hosts were killing me. I listen to another podcast about Sci-Fi and that guy is from Michigan and though he is not quite as bad as the Jawbone folks, it still gets me once in a while. But his is low-key enough that I can deal with it.

So if you are not southern but are trying to sound like us, please stop it. You’re only embarrassing yourself. And if you are southern and sound like it, don’t feel self-concious. Just remind our Northern brethren that if it weren’t for the South the world wouldn’t have grits, blues music (and by extension, rock n’ roll), The Allman Brothers, Gone With the Wind, Mark Twain, Billy Graham, The Andy Griffith Show, Martin Luther King Jr., Deliverance, Cajun cuisine, iced tea, and ME.

Josh H.


3 Responses to “Southern Accent Doesn’t Hold a Candle to Yankee Talk”

  1. 1 Matt
    August 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Man, that makes me want to go oot and aboot (that’s Canadian, in case you didn’t catch that!

  2. 2 ann
    August 28, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    so whats the verdict for me–i’m a vocal parrot. i pick up any strong accent that i’m around. it was tough for heath when i worked for a bunch of yankees.

  3. 3 Tiffany
    August 29, 2008 at 1:17 am

    You forgot “Wiscaaaansin”. I hear that one a lot around here. I am proud of my southern accent and will defend it ’til the cows come home. By the way, you should read the book “Politically Incorrect Guide to the South”. It reads like a text book, but it’s really interesting.

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