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Old 06-10-2012, 10:48 AM
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Upland South - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Tennessee and western Virginia, I noticed the blacks had more of a twangy, 'country' type southern accent, which was more similar to the accent of whites of the Upland South.

I don't know how long many of the blacks in cities like Knoxville or Asheville, NC, live, of course it would vary, but historically the area was much whiter than the Lowland/Deep South or the Piedmont/coastal plain, which I think has defined the typical AA accent to this day. The accent of blacks in the Midwest is influenced a lot by the Delta, while those on the East coast have a different accent.

I'm just wondering if blacks living in much of eastern TN, WV, western VA, NC, far northern GA, SC, and Kentucky have a more 'Appalachian' type accent and culture than blacks in other regions.

Last edited by JMT; 06-10-2012 at 12:13 PM.. Reason: Corrected your spelling of Asheville.
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Old 06-10-2012, 11:25 AM
Location: The South
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I did a quick scan of the referenced article and I didn't see the word "hillbilly" in it.
Some folks don't like the word.

Hillbilly - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 06-10-2012, 03:30 PM
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I think some blacks from WV, parts of KY, southwestern VA, and eastern TN have twangy accents which sound almost identical to white americans in the area, although some AA's in other areas have accents that are identical to the standard regional accent. I have also met some AA's from Nashville TN, Martinsville, Roanoke, and Lynchburg VA who had similar sounding mountain southern accents. I think the accents do sound more twangy compared to the standard drawls you tend to hear in the deep south or the coastal southern areas.
I haven't been in the areas listed before to analyze the situation but I have some examples.

Randy Moss. (Rand WV)


Example from Big Stone Gap VA (extreme southwest VA *Link Fixed*)

Rap group CunninLynguists from Lexington KY Interview (Skip to 1:25 to hear the accents)


Last edited by Kbank007; 06-10-2012 at 04:29 PM..
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Old 06-10-2012, 05:53 PM
Location: The canyon (with my pistols and knife)
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Anybody remember these guys? They're from Bowling Green KY.

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Old 06-10-2012, 06:02 PM
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Blacks in Huntsville tend to sound like that too. Once you pass Birmingham, the accents sounds more like hillbillies among blacks.
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Old 06-10-2012, 06:31 PM
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
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Not entirely related, but there were apparently African-American congregations worshiping in Gaelic until 1918.

Black America's musical links to Scotland - Arts - Scotsman.com
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:23 PM
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I am a proud native East Tennessean. It is the only home my family has ever known in this country, so I can tell you a little something about this.

It has to do with 2 main factors.
1. The lack of black folks in the region thru-out history.
2. Blacks were assimilated into white culture in this region hundreds of years ago.

Blacks only constitute 5-10% of the population here, always have. There was never any slavery here because of the mountains and the whites in this region were always poor and looked down upon by other whites and also oppressed by the government, both the confederates and the union, so even 100 years ago, a black family living peacefully in a white neighborhood here was not out the norm.

Even though TN was a confederate state, upwards of 70% of of East TN folks voted to NOT succeed from the union, most white East TN folks actually fought for the union.
Racially speaking, things always were much different here than the rest of the country, wait change that the rest of the nation. Chicago is more segregated right now than the hollers in East TN were 100 years ago. That's why black folks talk like white hillbillies around here, because those are there peers, they are just as hillbilly as the white folks.
I remember when I was 10 I went to a funeral for my grandfathers best friend, they were the same age and grew up on the same dirt road in the sticks. Friends sense the age of 3. My grandfather is 91 and white and his friend was black. Around here, that is not as uncommon as you would think. We were always outcasts so we always accepted societies outcasts.

There were abolitionists in South Knoxville 100 years before there were any in the north. All of this true history is ignored in history because the north won and decided to paint the entire south as being the exact same thing.
That's why the word hillbilly is only offensive to people who are not from hillbillies or are ignorant. Where I'm from it's a great honor to be called a hillbilly. We were falsely stereotyped as being stupid and inbred and backwards because we were not down with racism, slavery, or segregation hundreds of years before it was cool. We earned that name by being ahead of our time.

Unlike the north who only hopped on the anti-slavery bandwagon once it became profitable, we never had financially speaking a reason to say no or yes to it sense we did not make jack squat from it. We were always on the outside looking in and always thought it was wrong. The north made probably more money than the south off slavery anyway. The north traded the products overseas that slaves picked and 90% of the folks that originally brought them here and sold them to the south were northern. The north supported slavery and only started going against it when they saw they could make more money off it being outlawed than being legal.

That's why we are not in history books written by those hypocrites, that's why we are hillbillies, and that's why our fellow black hillbillies talk just like us.

Last edited by KnoxVolunteer23; 06-10-2012 at 08:34 PM..
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:40 PM
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There are a very very small number of African Americans in Northeast Georgia. They're less than one percent of the population. I agree with the previous posters' comment about black people up there. They didn't deal with the same jim crow segregation that existed in the deep south. They were such a small part of the population that they more or less assimilated into the mainstream appalachian culture, instead of forming a distinct black subculture.

Except, I really wouldn't say that Appalachia was a hotbed of abolitionism before it became cool elsewhere. I don't think the people really had any kind of deep moral opposition to Slavery, I just think they felt separated from the plantation economy because it didn't benefit them. If people in the upland south were eager to fight for the Union, it was probably because they saw something incredibly unfair about their state seceding from the Union, when it wouldn't help them in any way, shape or form. They felt like they didn't have a voice, at least in places like North Georgia.
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:45 PM
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With a couple of exceptions (like NOLA, the Lowcountry, etc.), Black and White natives have similar-sounding accents throughout much of the South.
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Mutiny77 View Post
With a couple of exceptions (like NOLA, the Lowcountry, etc.), Black and White natives have similar-sounding accents throughout much of the South.
Similar yes, but there are still major differences, especially to a natives ear. In Appalachia, there is no difference between a native black and native white accent and this includes slang and sentence structure along with tone. When talking to a black person in App, I can tell right away if they are a first generation native or if this is really where there folks have been for hundreds of years. If there a new native they wont sound exactly like white natives. If there family has been here for a couple hundred years you will mistake them for a white hillbilly every time on the phone.
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