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Old 04-06-2015, 03:33 PM
 
13 posts, read 17,447 times
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I feel like when I have seen news clips of reporters in the south, they tend to not have an accent. Even some famous celebrities (e.g., Stephen Colbert) have taught themselves how to repress their accent. I read that somewhere in Tennessee there was a course offering to eliminate your accent. I know this is specifically Mississippi, but as Mississippi is the heart of the South, I am interested in hearing people's thoughts.
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Old 04-06-2015, 08:20 PM
 
Location: NE Mississippi
13,458 posts, read 8,472,056 times
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Discriminated against? No, I don't think so.

But it is a curiosity, and sometimes those of us who can turn it on and off at will use it to our advantage.

Notice the actor Gary Oldman, in the movie Fifth Element. His character - inexplicably - has a Southern accent. That's funny first because the film is set in the 24th century, and secondly because Oldman is British. And it is a VERY good accent!

Larry The Cable Guy? Southern? Nope. He's from Nebraska. But you sure wouldn't know it to listen to him.

In business I turn it off unless it is to my advantage to fit in somewhere.

I actually got a call from company headquarters in Minnesota because they had someone on the phone from Louisiana and they simply could not figure out what he wanted. They needed a translator!

But discrimination? Not that I have noticed. But maybe that's because I can scrap it when I need to.

Don Williams, the singer, was my inspiration:
....But I was smarter than most, and I could choose
I learned to talk like the man on the 6 o'clock news.....
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:52 PM
 
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Discrimination? No. Actors and actresses have to know how to speak in many accents and the best way to do that is get rid of any accent they have. But some people from the south flat out lose their accents over time.
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Chattanooga, TN
2,790 posts, read 3,876,460 times
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I'm going to disagree with the other responses. If you have a heavy southern accent and are in a national business dealing with people from all over the country, it is possible or even likely that you be discriminated against. Thanks to Hollywood, the southeastern accent is portrayed as an indicator of low intelligence and lack of education. All other things being equal, someone in SoCal is choosing between a consultant with a heavy southern accent vs. one with any other accent (or no accent), the southern drawl is at a disadvantage.

As for TV, the fact is that any TV personality who wants to go beyond local news absolutely must lose any regional accent.

I, personally, have been blessed with the ability to understand and mimic accents. I can't turn them on and off at will like doing impressions, but I can turn it on when speaking with someone else with a strong accent. I spent two weeks in NOLA this winter talking with Cajuns. I've spent time in southern Louisiana before, so I could understand the accent and was quickly able to drop into the dialect so they could understand me. I was having to translate for my co-worker from northern Alabama, so I know exactly what Listener is talking about.
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Old 04-07-2015, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Lake Oswego, Manhattan, Aspen
3,228 posts, read 4,187,019 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluejays21 View Post
I feel like when I have seen news clips of reporters in the south, tend to not have an accent. Even some famous celebrities (e.g., Stephen Colbert) have taught themselves how to repress their accent. I read that somewhere in Tennessee there was a course offering to eliminate your accent. I know this is specifically Mississippi, but as Mississippi is the heart of the South, I am interested in hearing people's thoughts.
The strange new "reality" show, 'Breaking Greenville', explains the why, behind the lack of local accents on TV news shows in the South. The reporters and weatherpersons are sent in from elsewhere. Some of them marry local money and stay (including a certain beautiful witch who has recently "gone where the Goblins go" - yo ho! Ding dong the Witch is...). But I would add that the more beloved weatherpersons and reporters are mostly locals with local accents (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX6jMfL8MiQ ). And frankly, they seem more competent than the little also-rans with the Yankee Seagull Screech, or the California Valley Girl Chainsaw Glottal Fry, or the comical transmogrification of English that prevails in Minnesota.

But there is no such thing as "The Southern Accent". There may be certain commonalities. But there are MANY Southern accents. Remember the scene in Pygmalion (My Fair Lady), when there is a discussion of being able to pinpoint the location and social class of Londoners, by listening to their accents? Same with Southern accents.

There's a Baptist accent. There's a (very pleasant and moderate, usually) Pentecostal/Church of Christ/Church of G-- accent. Methodists speak one way, while Episcopalians (who are generally of English or "Mediterranean White" descent) have their own pronunciations and delivery (just add heavy dipthong to Christine Baranski, and you've got it), fine old Scottish families (who tend to be Methodist or Presbyterian) sound one way, while Irish people (who tend to be Baptist), sound another way.

Delta Brahmins (be they in Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, or Mississippi) sound one way (with Brahmin pronunciations elongated, and made musical, by centuries of breathing the hot, sopping-wet Southern air - "The Miasma"), while the class below them sound like an entirely different breed of white people. The difference in accent marked the racial differences between the Norse/Hebrew/Roman Brahmins, and the Celts who resented them. My favorite is the accent you hear in the old Delta families on the western side of the Mississippi. In a very genteel town in the Louisiana Delta, there was once a seriously fine young man, with a famously huge... well... Suddenly, the audience at the swim meets was standing-room-only, because everybody in town wanted to see him in his Speedo. His mother was a Brahmin, and an absolute archetype of the local accent. Years later, people were still imitating her cheering him on at swim meets, "Guh-o-o-o-o-o Ch-uh-i-i-i-i-i-yup!" The number of syllables, the number of musical notes, and the number of vowel sounds she managed to get into two short words were phenomenal. But actually, that was the upper class accent in that area.

The above was just about the white people. Those of us who are in "other categories" have different accents. Mine was every bit as horrible as that of the Narrator here: a sickening combination of 'Hard R', Mush Mouth, and a "Yodeling" quality (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmgMwjCQtFg). The first time I heard myself on a tape recorder, I wanted to DIE. And the first time I turned on the radio, looking for an explanation for an outbreak of sirens (another tornado, of course), and heard that Narrator, who had a radio call-in show, I wanted to die: something akin to Post Traumatic Stress, I suppose.

It had taken me years of speech therapy to overcome what I call the "Lower-than-White-Trash" accent common among rural Mississippians who, like me, are not-quite-white. And if I hadn't, you can be sure that I would not be gardening with the grandes dames of Portland, or living in a limestone chateau, or driving an Aston Marin (OK: I actually drive, mostly, a used 600H L, because I'm thrifty and it's quietest thing that's ever been made. But there's a Rapide sitting in the garage, because Santa thinks I'm a good little girl, and thought maybe I wasn't driving the Ghost, because it was so big.). I never would have made it past "Office Manager", if I'd even made it that far, had I continued to sound like a cross between Mr. Haney (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIvjz2X-Kok) and the Mazola Goodness of Corn Girl (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuOlD0JZhM4), and Jeliza-Rose (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFTqJnXZcoc).

But really, it was exponentially worse than that. If Mr. Haney had produced a baby with Mazola Girl, and they had raised that baby in the woods behind the swamps - and if the baby had grown up with an accent a thousand times worse than either of theirs, then it might approximate my horrific accent. No words are adequate, though. My speech was horrible - brutal - nauseating. I had to sit in the college library's speech lab, listening to William F. Buckley and Queen Elizabeth - repeating their words into a tape recorder, and totally re-learning every aspect of my speech, for years (with my husband and I coaching each other), to break free.

We had planned on escaping Mississippi earlier than we did. We knew that our accents would have trapped us in the Deep South. But while we were preparing to leave, we started making money, then MORE money, and sorta just stayed, even though I'd started income streams in other places, and was buying properties far-afield. Already, Dallas and Atlanta were Yankee places. And we (and our friends) dreamed of escaping to Seattle or Southampton or Greenwich or Beverly Hills. Our children, finally, picked Portland, after we'd bought a homesite in Malibu (Thanks, kids! You saved me from being the lady in the Lexus, killed by go-cart hauling, cigarette-puffing, Grandma Bruce Jenner, on the PCH). It's lucky we stayed in Madison as long as we did, because Portland, like Malibu and Beverly Hills, is a place to which you move, AFTER you've established yourself. There is no "opportunity" here, which is why it's still nice. There are no "jobs". In any event, we could not have prospered, had we still sounded like backwoods mutants.

But many people (from far better families than ours) are trapped, by their accents, in Mississippi. They sound like Opies or Goobers or Crackers or just-plain-MORONS, to outsiders. Much of Madison, Mississippi's ascendancy is due to the fact that a lot of smart, accomplished people moved there from other parts of the state. They had no real choice. Their home towns were dying, and their accents trapped them in Mississippi. The economy of the Capital's metropolitan area was the draw. But Jackson was considered a nasty backwater, full "Moralistic Carpetbagger White Trash Crooks" Jackson Jambalaya: Oxford House & local couple are moving recovering addicts into NE Jackson homes.. So, nice people moved to Madison, instead (this was before "necky types" started moving in, from Jackson). These folk moving in from places like the Delta were the people who could not alter their speech enough to function effectively outside the Afro-Celtic South. They have cousins, though, in Mountain Brook, Alabama; Highland Park, Texas; Druid Hills (Atlanta); Bellevue, Washington; Santa Monica; Santa Barbara; Malibu - and basically other every IQ mecca in America - who have managed to mask their accents. The female cousins tend to sound like Hillary Clinton.

I would add that most of us are chameleons. Our accents change with our moods, our locales, and our partners in conversation. That is as true of people still in Mississippi as it is of people who have escaped. Considering that the history of the state is one long series of financial upheavals, with people moving in desperate search of opportunity (Mississippi leads the nation in change-of-address, actually), learning to mask and adapt has been a matter of survival.
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Old 04-07-2015, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Chattanooga, TN
2,790 posts, read 3,876,460 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrandviewGloria View Post
But there is no such thing as "The Southern Accent". There may be certain commonalities. But there are MANY Southern accents. Remember the scene in Pygmalion (My Fair Lady), when there is a discussion of being able to pinpoint the location and social class of Londoners, by listening to their accents? Same with Southern accents.
Here's a map of US dialects: American English Dialects
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:56 AM
 
47,557 posts, read 45,245,703 times
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Discriminated against? Well, it depends. I live in Georgia, and the southern accent, depending on where you go, isn't really discriminated against. In parts of metro Atlanta, there might be some discrimination against the accent. This could be especially so if you go to places like DeKalb County or Atlanta proper. I know there are some people who look down on the accent, even after living there for many years. Go to some of the outer counties, where people tend to be from there going back generations, it isn't likely that the southern accent will be looked down on.

I can go into Atlanta all day, and barely hear it. Same goes for DeKalb County. Cobb County, I might here it more. If you're in western Cobb County, definitely. Eastern Cobb County, not as likely. Go out to places like Paulding County, Carroll County, Douglas County, it is very strong.
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Old 04-10-2015, 11:05 AM
 
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Southern accents are awesome! I love to hear people from the South speak! I have a southern accent myself and I can't tell you how many times while traveling around the U.S. that people ask me to "please say something again, because I just love your accent!" I'm always glad they appreciate it! Someone even told me that I needed to be on a cooking show because my accent is so awesome and that it would be very amusing and entertaining! (oh..boy....I love to cook!...wouldn't I love to be on a cooking show!!!).
Y'all have a great weekend!!
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Old 05-03-2015, 11:52 AM
 
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There's a southern accent, and then there's just plain ol' redneck country talk. There's a difference. A southern accent still uses proper English and grammar. A country redneck accent does not. Too many people think southern means country and redneck, but that couldn't be further from the truth. A country/redneck accent can be found all over the United States, but a southern accent is region specific, and even then there are variations state to state.
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Old 05-06-2015, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis, MN
6,009 posts, read 3,339,167 times
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Not to say that a southern accent sounds dumb, but if you say something dumb in a southern accent, you'll sound dumber than if you said it in a northern or west coast accent.
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