Commentary

EDITOR’S CORNER

Hey y’all, guess whose accent is most popular?
Mike Brown

Well, y’all just reach over and give y’all selves a pat on the back.

A nationwide survey by something called cupid.com—I know, it sound like a chick site to me, too—has discovered Americans think the southern accent is the most attractive of all our nation’s regional dialects.

And it wasn’t even close. According to chick, I mean cupid, dot com, 36.5 percent of those responding picked the southern accent. That’s more than twice the runner-up which was New York with 16.5.

No, really, New York.

I’d love to do some wordsmithing high-fives here but you see the problem, don’t you? Yep, there’s really no such thing as a southern accent. Not one, anyway. There are a whole bunch of southern accent.

We have our Texas twangs, of course. Used to tell some of my yankee friends that they don’t love words as much as we do, because we stay with them longer.


Art by Jesse Vega, a freshman at Rockdale High School. Art by Jesse Vega, a freshman at Rockdale High School. But we can’t hold a mint julep to the way they caress words as you travel to the east. By the time you hit the coast, well, in parts of South Carolina the language is so syrupy it’s dangerous for diabetics to remain overnight.

There’s the lilting singsong of an Alabaman or Georgian, the rich roux of a Louisiana Cajun and as for Kentucky, well do the words “Loretta Lynn” ring a bell?

All southern. All about as different as can be.

Then there’s one of special note. Old-timers will remember Arkansas football coach Frank Broyles who had one of the most distinctive accents ever.

Despite his working for decades at a major college, his accent never got the detailed academic study in deserved.

That’s because no one ever understood a word coach Broyles ever said. And you wondered why Razorback quarterbacks called their own plays?

I saw a linguist once demonstrate where the southern accent originated. His theory is that the southern accent—as opposed to the Texas accent which is obviously a gift straight from heaven—is the British Midlands accent slowed down several beats.

Much of the south was settled by English, Scots and Irish and he reasoned life in the new world caused them to slow down their cadences while keeping their distinctive lilt.

Okay, then why does the New England accent—fourth in the survey at 10.5 percent—sound so different? You’d think a place actually named for England would have the market cornered on that kind of accent?

I like the New England accent even though on my one trip to that beautiful corner of our country, it did cause a few problems.

In Massachusetts I was told that a prominent gentleman, just pointed out to me, was a prominent official “in the Democratic Potty.”

I think I remarked that in Texas it didn’t matter who you voted for, you get to use the same, uh, facilities as everyone else.

In Maine, on a small boat tour outside Bar Harbor, the skipper showed us how to don life jackets, if the need arose.

“Ahhh, nothin’ is, ah, gonna happen-a-yah but the Koze God makes us do this,” he said.

I said we’re mostly Baptists in Texas and we ain’t havin’ nothing to do with this Koze God.

Well, if he wanted to talk about the Coast Guard why didn’t he?

The Midwestern Accent was next to last, seventh, with 5.5 percent thinking it was attractive.

I didn’t think midwesterners had an accent until I actually thought about the way my Kansas and Missouri relatives talk.

I finally realized they didn’t have perpetual colds. That was their accent. Also, they seem to have found all the ‘Rs’ missing from the New Yahhhk dialect. “Whurrrs muh shurrt?” “In the warshing machine.”

And it’s not just in English there are accents. Johnny Carson had Desi Arnaz and Fernando Lamas as guests on his late-night talk show.

During a break the two conversed in Spanish and Johnny asked Fernando what they’d talked about.

Lamas grinned. “Tell you the truth Johnny, I couldn’t understand a word he said. You think he has an accent in English, you ought to hear him in Spanish!”


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