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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

American Accents & Dialects (And Why I'm a Nerd)

For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed infatuated slightly in love with accents. They are fascinating and interesting! I pride myself on being able to place someone's geographical region of origination after I hear them talk for a while. I'm a phonology nerd...okay?

Accents fascinate me because they are so varied. Even in America, we have a number of recognized dialects (accents) in America  but there are definitely even more that aren't documented.

Some of you may be wondering why in the world I'm blogging about this...because it is a weird topic to write about...unless you are obsessed with it like I am. There have been three distinct phonological instances recently that got me thinking about this kind of stuff that I want to share with you. Ready?

1. I met a new neighbor over the weekend and after greeting her and introducing myself I told her we'd just moved from the next street over (in the same neighborhood). She asked me where I was originally from and then quickly said, "Obviously not from the South...we're from Wisconsin and Ohio too."

Um.

I was both saddened and slightly happy with this. You see, my people are always stereotyped as being dumb, idiotic, slow, etc. if they have a strong Southern accent. There are lots of us that are indeed smart, sassy and Southern. But the Southern accent, unfortunately, usually comes with negative connotations. With that, I've made an effort to not sound like the world's biggest redneck when I speak...especially when I speak publicly or in a professional setting. But I was saddened because I don't want to "lose" so much of my accent that people don't know where I'm from. Now, sometimes when I'm angry or on the phone (apparently) I have a very strong accent, but still it makes me a little sad that someone couldn't instantly place me as being a native Carolinian once I started talking.

2. Along the same lines, I've recently come across two people who have CHANGED their accents. They were born/grew up in one place and now live someone else and have adopted that accent. I can understand this to some degree because I have a tendency to assume the speech patterns and colloquialisms of those around me at times. But it is so intriguing to me that the accent you've had for 20, 30 or 40 years can change once you leave that area.

3. Finally, over the last few weeks I've been binge-watching Mob Wives on Hulu Plus and I'm in the seasons where they introduce some girls from Philadelphia. WHO KNEW THERE WAS SUCH A THING AS A PHILADELPHIA ACCENT?!?! I didn't! I knew there was a Boston accent and a NY accent and a Maine/upper NE accent... but Philly? So interesting! Now I will be able to pick it out when I hear it from now on. Thanks Mob Wives! :)

Do you have an accent? Do you wish you did?

3 comments:

  1. I am completely fasScinated by regional accents and dialects too. I live in Philadelphia and there is DEFINITELY a Philly accent! I feel like mine's not too bad (doesn't everyone say that?) but I do say "wood-er" for water haha! My father in law has a STRONG south Philly accent and it's fascinating to listen to. My husband has picked up on a lot of his dad's accent too and sometimes I say "You sound JUST like your dad right now!"

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  2. I'm a Texan who has lived in Australia for six and a half years. This topic has always interested me too...I even took two linguistics classes in college. Living here has made me all the more interested again because I hear different pronunciations and different uses of the English language. People here ask me if I'm Canadian. Say what?!?! I'm from the furthest state to Canada (except maybe the southern tip of Florida...and Hawaii). People back home think I'm losing the Texas accent. I don't want to lose it! I am proud to be Texan living in another part of the world.

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  3. LOL there is definitely a Philly accent. As Laura mentioned above, wooder (water), crick (creek), crown (crayon), and we say home weird too. And yo a lot. LOL

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