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Old 05-25-2011, 07:56 PM
5,807 posts, read 10,340,136 times
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Is the southern drawl that one hears around Cincinnati a product of the migration of impoverished Kentuckians moving to the city for work during the past 60 odd years in the post war world?

Over-the-Rhine was the 2nd most densely populated neighborhoods in the mid-1800s. It is home to the oldest Jewish community west of the Appalachians. It was one the top destination for the underground railroad before the black Great Migration to the industrial megacities of Chicago and Detroit beginining in the early 1900s. The first art museum, first major symphony orchestra west of the Appalachians, and first major league ball team started there.

Cincinnati in many ways was a inland/western outlier of the east coast. But as the city got passed up by so many other cities in the 20th century, the Queen City was no longer on the radar screen for immigrants, and then most of the migrants were impoverished Kentuckians (especially from coal mining areas) thus giving it the conservative/semi-southern vibe/stereotype that so many want to label the city as.

Do I have it about right? Do you think Cincy slowly became more "southern" in the post war world? Or do you think Cincy was like that from its very beginning?
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Old 05-25-2011, 11:40 PM
Location: Here and there
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Cincinnati is not nearly as southern as many claim, yes it boarders northern Kentucky but lots of northern and southern Kentuckians will say that northern Kentucky is not southern and hardly belongs in the same state. Not that Cincy doesnt have southern attributes but we're not these "uber conservative republican hillbillies" people just love to tell everyone we are. And after you visit the south, you'll realize just how northern the cincy metro is!

But actually all in all, I think the things that make up the north and south (accents, mindsets) is starting to fade, especially in the younger crowd!
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Old 05-26-2011, 12:06 PM
Location: Cincinnati (Norwood)
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A tough call, maybe... If you hang out down at the Greyhound station, you'll certainly get one impression of the Queen City; if you sit next to Paavo Yarvi on his flight back to Europe, you'll probably get another. Who knows?
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Old 05-26-2011, 12:14 PM
Location: Philaburbia
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The area was pioneeredby a bunch of Virginians after the Revolutionary War ... Symmes may have been from New Jersey, but he sold off much of the land (allegedly sometimes more than once! LOL). Also, the land east of the Little Miami was part of the Virginia Military District.
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Old 05-26-2011, 09:10 PM
Location: Here and there
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So basically who knows who cares lol?
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Old 05-27-2011, 12:28 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
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The OP's opening sentence asked a different question than the one which seemed to emerge the farther along you read.
As much as my accent's been diluted and compromised after three decades on the East Coast, people still say I "talk Southern." Funny thing is, I never really did. Astute individuals still peg my hometown after hearing me run my mouth for a few minutes. To the extent that Cincinnati has its own dialect, it's kind of a hybrid between the Midwestern twang and Southern drawl. I grew up hearing some older natives say they lived in "Cincinnatuh" and had just done their "warsh" (which scream "Nebraska") while pronouncing the personal pronoun "I" as "Ah" the way only Suth'na's do.
But I suspect that the local speech grew steadily more Southern as the 20th Century moved along. While my own parents landed on the shores of the Ohio from South Carolina, thanks to my dad accepting a job offer from P & G out of college, thousands of White Appalachians and Blacks from all over the South were also arriving in town to find well-paying work. The massive influx had to have had an influence on how everyone spoke over time. It didn't strike me as weird to hear some elementary-school classmates from recently immigrated families "talk Southern." That's what my ears had picked up at home since before I was born. As much as some of the kids who had locally-born parents made fun of the speech differences at times, you can be sure they were assimilating them all the same. What's intriguing is to observe how AA's of even this generation are truer to talking Southern than their paler counterparts are. One almost never hears "y'all" out of a 'nati Caucasian any more, for instance, but spend a half hour on the street in Walnut Hills and you're bound to catch it being said. Regardless, the Cincinnati dialect has been thoroughly infused with Southern although no one who knows the difference would call it Southern.
So yeah, I think Cincinnati talk was less "Southern" until about the 1930's. Before then the American-born migrants were from a broader swath of territory, with many arriving from Pennsylvania and New York. And of course none of the thousands of Germans who started to show up after the Civil War brought "y'all," "Whurzit at, over yonder" or "He'p me out, mash 'at button up'air" with them. But all of their descendants wound up talking that way, at least for a while. Due first to TV and more recently to the Internet, though, Southern is going the way of all distinct regional dialects and dying out. If "Cincinnati" ends up sounding less "Southern," it'll be because of that.
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Old 05-27-2011, 06:06 AM
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I once read that Cincinnati and Ohio were places that news organizations sought a lot of their on-air talent because of the lack of a perceptible accent among many of the locals. I guess Bill Hemmer would be one good example of that. I also remember Al Schottelkotte getting national recognition of sorts with his cameo on Gilligan's Island.

I agree with GG, that mass communication has diluted our regional distinctiveness in a way. There's some controversy in the UK about that very thing, with many English dialects and accents in danger of going extinct.

Still, I think I encounter more "southern" accents in the Dayton area than I do around Cincinnati. And southerners certainly don't regard Cincinnati as southern. They think we have 12 feet of snow on the ground by October. As far as the way we talk, I remember my ex-wife's South Carolina relatives always making fun of her for her Cincinnati "brogue."
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Old 05-27-2011, 02:21 PM
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Interesting comments.

However, I don't think Americas southern drawl will ever die out. Its part of way too much of a chunk of America for that to happen.

I think things like commercialized country music coming out of Nashville will keep it as much a part of american speech for a long time.

Plus as major southern cities with their generally healthy economies (Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, etc.) attract northerners, some northerners who choose to embrace their new homes, do pick it up a bit. Now, people will say those cities are all cosmopolitan/transplants . . . well, there is a diluted southern drawl nonetheless that you hear in major southern cities, that will make those distinct from nothern cities.

Our technology and communication has certainly done a lot to homogenize america, but I think you will always see and hear some regional differences. We learn most of our speech nonetheless from out immediate family, in our very early formative years, even with TV and the internet.
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Old 05-27-2011, 03:35 PM
Location: Ohio
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Default no twang?

Only once did I have a twang, and that was after four years of attending Northern Kentucky University. But that's long gone.
Most people I know (including me) have voices that are nasal, even a bit whiny at times (not that it's whining, it's just a higher pitch) and occasionally German guttural. But I know of few people with a twang, except for some of the people I work with who are from the more rural parts of southeast Indiana.
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Old 05-27-2011, 07:19 PM
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Originally being from the South and having lived here for only a short time, I'd definitely say this is not southern. Not even close.

My personal test for this: you guys ask for a 'pop' and in the South everything is 'coke'. It's not a legit test, but I've found it is pretty spot on.
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