Thursday, May 7, 2009

Southern Serenade

The South has been particularly blessed with one of the most recognizable and delightful dialects of English. There are many variations of the accent. For instance, Virginians sound different than Georgians. What is common to the regions, is that they speak rather softly and in a rhythm-like smoothness. The southern accent is one of those rare gems of culture that make life on earth a little more interesting. Most of them aren't aware of the niceties of their speech. They grow up with it, so its second nature, like walking, involuntary. Unfortunately, the southern accent is slowly fading from America. With the influence of television and airplane travel, there is more of a blending of dialects. Youth are sitting in front of the tube for hours. Once, you could tell what U. S. state a person was from, but it's starting to become harder to tell. Now, when you watch the Miss America pageant, it's tougher to hear the difference between the voice of Miss Louisiana from the voice of Miss Oregon. Watch CSPN and listen to the congressman, can you tell by listening who is speaking? No, the senator from Tennessee doesn't sound much different from Ohio's representative. You can hardly tell the slightest trace of difference. Who says we should all sound like news castors? Personally, I don't care for the homogeny of our voices. Yankees would like southerners to renounce their accents, to them it's taboo. They liken the accent to ignorance, and render less respect. Of course, that's an arrogant assumption. Believe me, there is a difference between poor grammar and correct English spoken with a drawl. The first thing Northerners want to do is encourage southerners to change. They feel the southern accent is an easy target. This happened to me. I moved to Washington state in June 1979. For the first four months, we lived with my husband's parents in Tacoma until jobs were landed. My father-in-law took on the mission of "improving" my speech. I could hardly finish a sentence without being corrected. It became so frustrating, that I avoided conversing at times. Thus, today many people do not detect an accent, however many do. I've always resented being forced to change. After all, it was part of my culture, who I was, my identifying mark. I wasn't ashamed of being from the South, I was proud of where I came from. Regional differences shouldn't be considered somehow evil. I guess it's impossible to stop the deterioration of southerners' pleasant vernacular. A phrase from the song My Home 's in Alabama by the country-rock group Alabama.

I'll speak my southern English
Just sa natural as I please;
I'm in the Heart of Dixie -
Dixie's in the heart of me

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