Monday, April 18, 2011

Regional weirdness

I live (as I always have) in the South. That's southern USA, for you non-Yanks. The South is really quite different from the rest of the States. For one thing, we talk funny.

Now I'm not just referring to our distinctive drawl. (And on that - there are many regional variations. Georgia alone has at least 9 documented different southern drawls.) No, I'm talking about the way we pronounce the names of places.

For example, a town in south Georgia has the same name as the capitol of New York state, Albany. Albany, NY is pronounced ALL ban ee. The Georgia one is pronounced all BIN ee. Please note the middle vowel change, along with the change in emphasis. I'm not kidding.

Near me is the town of Buchannon GA. Not pronounced BEYW can uhn, but instead BUCK an uhn.

Sometimes the variation is different by an adjacent state. The coastal town of Beaufort, SC is pronounced BYEW fort. The coastal town of Beaufort, NC is pronounced BO furt, and don't you forget it!

Remember the story of the Breman town musicians? Nearby Breman, GA is not pronounced BRIM uhn, but BREE man. No musicians that I know of.

It's easy to tell the non-native Hotlanta folks. They mispronounce our major thoroughfare Ponce de Leon Ave, which is correctly pronounced pahns duh LEE on. Well, duh.

Sugah, whachew tawkin' 'bout? Shoo.

My accent is normally a cultured central Hotlanta accent, which to many Southerners sounds like virtually NO accent. I used to do international software support, and I can speak very clearly. But I occasionally say ya'll and use soft Rs, dahlin'. And when I visit family, I slip right back into the regional accent I grew up with. My father had an upper Piedmont SC accent, fairly strong. And my mother, well a dear friend of mine (from upstate NY) loves to call and talk to Mom, because she thinks Mom sounds just like Olivia de Havilland in Gone With the Wind. A different variation on the upstate SC sound, soft and cultured.

What regional accents/pronunciations/names are funny where you are?

Vader has no discernible accent. Just badness. (But he's so durn cute....)

I've been tatting a bit, to mitigate the pain of doing the bloody taxes. (I mailed off a large check today. Ugh.) I've become enamored of Lizbeth's Spring Garden. This will be a small doily, the Daffodil Doily from Learn How to Tat by Janette Baker. Aren't the colors lovely?


  1. Haha the accent conversation comes up quite frequently for me as of late. I'm from Upstate NY but moved to southwestern Idaho earlier this year. I tell people where I'm from and they immediately ask me why I don't have an accent; which they are referring to the stereotypical NYC accent. Upstaters don't have that accent. :-P

    And the only time people can tell I'm not from around this area is how I pronounce Boise or Oregon. Boise isn't pronounced "BOY-zee", it's "BOY-see". And Oregon isn't pronounced "Or-e-gon", it's "Or-gun" (maybe with a little of the "e", depending on how fast you're talking). I've got the Boise thing pretty much down, but I have to be careful if I ever mention our neighbors to the west. :-P

  2. Ha, I enjoyed this...the names are French! So I pronounce them completely differently, I didn't even realise there were other pronouciations. :)
    The French laugh at the way those in Marseille speak, oh and Belgians of course...

  3. I'm familiar with the correct (Southern) pronunciation of Buchanon - having been through BUCK-an-un, West Virginia once.

    My late dear MIL (God rest her) had a very strong "moonlight-and-magnolias" accent. I can imitate it, but her accent was genuine...

    LOVE the Lizbeth Spring Garden! I've actually used up 2 balls of it (but have more in my stash)!

    I see Vader got caught watching TV again...doesn't he know that something interactive - like a computer - would be better for his mental health?! At least he should be watching PBS...

  4. Fabulous post! - once upon a time, you could tell a Queenslander by their speech; north of the Tweed, people ate "peanut paste" and children took their books to school in a "port", storing them in a "port-rack" while in class - (shades of Harry Potter, perhaps).
    Oh, and "castle" - up here, the pronunciation was "cassell."
    However, since the great southern migration which started about 25 years ago, regional peculiarities are not so evident.

  5. Here in North Dakota, we don't have any accents. we think all of you have the accents. however, I was told by a Texan, that I "speak North Dakotan" which I have been informed is a variation of "Canadian" don't know what they are talking about. as all the TV news people, except Barbara Walters speak just like me.
    and no, we don't sound like the movie "Fargo". But you can hear the occasional "ja" or "uff dah".

  6. Great post! Let's not forget y'all and all y'all. This guy (formerly of Ohio) has morphed into the 'Southern' way. I find myself proudly using the local words and drawl without trying. It's in the blood.

  7. As a native Western Pennsylvanian, transplanted south of the Mason-Dixon line, I have many tales and mannerisms. You want a bit of Pittsburgh-ese? Even more local color?

    It has been said that Western Pennsylvanians have the worst dialect in the American English standard. Influenced by Scots-Irish settlers, we say "nebby, redd up, slippy and the infamous yinz/yunz/you’uns."

    I could go on...

  8. ...FYI, fellow commenters, you think you "don't have an accent"?

    ALL y'all have an accent! You probably cannot hear your own dialect, having been so immersed in it for so long.

    * ; )

    I love listening to the different regional dialects of the US...and also the accents and dialects of english-speaking people from other lands! I think the Cajun dialect must be one of the most fascinating...

    Vader the Cat!!! He is so handsome!!!!
    ::huggs:: to the Cat!!

  9. I've adored accents my whole life---and I pride myself on being able to tell where someone's from based on how they talk. Dialects are one of America's most charming qualities.

    LOVE that they put "Y'all" on a billboard!

  10. Well, I live a little north of you in East Tennessee. I used to teach English, but sometimes when people asked me what I taught, I would tell them, "I teach a foreign language." Around here there is a definite Southern plus COUNTRY speak!!! Grammar has been thrown out of the door in my neck of the woods. I was fortunate to grow up in a family of teachers, therefore learning to speak correctly, but when I do, people look at me like I'm crazy, sometimes.
    I most definitely have a Southern drawl, though. Whenever we go up to the NE to visit our daughters, people ask me if I'm from Alabama. I don't think I have quite that much of a drawl, but I don't really hear myself. My dad's family was from Atlanta. They all spoke with an exaggerated Southern drawl, at least I thought they did. My aunt, would say, "Juuuleeee, yore so sweeeeeett, huneee." Or something like that. I don't know how to spell the pronunciations.
    When one of my daughters moved up to the NE, her boss would have her come into his office and tell her to just talk. He loved listening to her. My other daughter got her first job over the telephone because the interviewer liked her Southern drawl. She majored in communications. Her diction teacher told her she should never lose the Southern part of her speech, but that the country had to go.

  11. "How quaint, eh!" said she from Canada.
    Fox : ))