Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Southern Accent

If you've spent time in different parts of the South, even just different parts of a Southern state, you know there isn't just one.  When I started high school there was one guy named JoJo and it took me about a week to get used to his speach patterns because he spoke fast and with an accent that was a little different than one I was used to.  He went to a different elementary school from me and just that little bit of distance made a lot of difference in how we talked.

I've met very few people with a "magnolia" accent. It's kind of the Old Southern accent you would see in a movie at a plantation house or something out of Gone with the Wind.  It's when a person would say something like, "Why, whateva fowa?" ("Why, whatever for.") Southern accents are known for extra syllables, and in this magnolia accent it is even more pronounced. I have not heard it often, but when I have, it has been by older ladies and I always have to listen hard to find out if it is a put-on, and usually it is not. I enjoy accents and always ask people where they are from if they have an pleasantly interesting accent.

Please do not tell a Southerner they have a funny accent, especially if you are in their neck of the woods.  If you are not from the South and are sitting in Birmingham, Alabama and think that the person you are talking to has a very Southern accent; they don't, you do.  Also, please don't ask anyone with a unique accent to, "say something."  It puts people on the spot, makes them self concious and is, in my opinion at least a little rude.  If you like an accent just say, "you have a wonderful accent."

Here's something interesting A Dialect Map of American English.

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Anonymous said...

The Magnolia Accent seems to be most prominent in Savannah GA. Go there and you will hear it most often