Tag Archives: American Southern Accents

Urban Southern English

A reader wrote me recently with a question about his “fading” Southern accent: I am a native, fourth generation Georgian who has lived in Roanoke, Virginia for two years. Before then I spent three years in Austin, Texas; two in … Continue reading

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Faulkner, Joyce, and Regional Modernism

I most associate literary modernism with Joyce and Faulkner, writers who pushed literature’s boundaries further than they had, and perhaps have since, been pushed. Both explored non-standard grammar and syntax, so it’s no coincidence that they were master “dialect writers.” That … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Regionally “Corrupted” Names

Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks details the real life of a poor woman from rural Virginia whose cancer cells became an important tool for medical innovation. The titular woman hailed from a tiny, impoverished Southern town, which prompts … Continue reading

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Regional African-American Accents

Annie Minoff has written a fascinating, in-depth piece on African American English over at WBEZ in Chicago. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but the main thrust of the article is that within African-American English one can find numerous regional … Continue reading

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Where Does “The South” Begin?

Yesterday I crossed the border from Pennsylvania to Maryland, and was greeted by a road sign for “The Mason-Dixon Line,” the historical demarcation between the American North and South. It’s a misleading distinction from a linguistic perspective, because one does … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 27 Comments

“You is Smart:” Dialect Gripes About “The Help”

The other day, a Twitter pal mentioned a certain discomfort while reading Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. Apropos of this blog, it seems there are a number of complaints about the author’s (arguably) shaky command of African American Vernacular English, a … Continue reading

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‘Hey!’ and its Variants

The word ‘hey’ has been around for a good thousand years or so (probably more). A remarkably versatile little word, it can be used in American English in any number of contexts. For example, to express annoyance: “Hey! Stop doing … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Nasal Vowels

In French, the /n/ at the end of words like ‘garcon,’ ‘mon,’ and ‘Americain’ is typically  unpronounced.  Instead, the vowel before ‘n’ is nasalized, while dropping ‘n’ itself. How does one ‘nasalize’ a vowel, exactly? It’s fairly simple. The speaker … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The Mississippi Accent in 1893

I recently stumbled upon a remarkable 1893 tome on Google Books entitled Some peculiarities of speech in Mississippi by the delightfully-named Hubert Anthony Shands.  A glossary of words native to the dialect(s) of that state, the book opens with a detailed … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Do Southerners Speak Slowly?

One of the most commonly held assumptions about American accents is one with arguably negative connotations.  That would be the pernicious rumor that Southern people speak ‘slower’ than Northerners.  I put this assumption in quotation marks, of course, because it … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 12 Comments