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Postby beck123 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:26 pm

Beck is back. I like this thread, and I'm going to stand up for my position that the media may present some leveling of formal and written speech, but play only a tiny role in how things are said by people at home. I've lived in the NE, Texas, and the Deep South, and nobody - nobody - strives to talk like Johnny Carson, Alex Trebek, or the voice on the corporate answering machine. People everywhere pride themselves in their local dialects 100% if they stay near home, and maybe 75% if they move away. The only leveling that seems to have occurred is in the media itself. Nobody with a striking regional accent finds work in the national media.

I'll concede that the media is effective in introducing new vocabulary and what, for lack of a better description, I'll call "fad talk," such as "Just do it," or "I'll be back." Those things are spread like wildfire by the media. But the Appalachian boy and the Brooklyn boy are going to say the phrase "Just do it" very differently.

The only consistent change I see in the way individuals speak is when young white men are in the presence of black people. They suddenly start to talk with black rhythms and phrasing, which effect disappears the instant a unicolorous white assembly is restored. Hell, I even find myself doing it, sometimes.
Beck

"I don't know whether ignorance or apathy is worse, and, frankly, I don't care." - Anonymous
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Postby beck123 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:36 pm

Looking back over the recent posts, I'll add that the media certainly does introduce new words and phrases - the examples you've given are just a drop in the ocean of phrases that come to our language from the media, and that doesn't include the fad talk that comes and goes - but my point is that it does not change the way in which regional dialects pronounce those words and phrases.

If the hot new phrase were "Hand me the pen, Harry," people in western Texas would still have to explain whether it's an "ink pen" or a "sewin' pin" that they're requesting from Harry, since their dialect makes no distinction in the sound of "pen" and "pin." Hearing the phrase repeated over and over in the national media has not changed and (apparently) will not change that.
Beck

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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:01 pm

Where is Saparris when we need him?
I'll give you some on what you say. You can take the
boy out of South Carolina, but you cannot take
South Carolina out of the boy.
My comments were more by the way of wondering
IF the media would ultimately having us all talking the
same: which I would deplore, I love the regionalisms.
Media, Johnny Carson and Alex Trebek do have
the "corporate answering machine" voice. Again
we need saparris in this. I'l mail him the link and see
where he is, has been. He has a cute thing about
pen/pin, I know
(You lived in NE?????Where???){Poor Andy}
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Postby beck123 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:37 pm

No, no no!!! The NE, the compass point, as in NY, MA, PA, and now, NH. Knot Knebraska. I did fly over Knebraska once, though.
Beck

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Postby Slava » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:37 pm

LukeJavan8 wrote:You can take the boy out of South Carolina, but you cannot take South Carolina out of the boy.
Sorry, but I'm proof positive that this isn't quite the case. I was born in Nashville, but came to Upstate NY when I was 6. My accent lasted a while, but it's long gone. I'm not so sure I even have an NY accent, either, after 12 years in Moscow.
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Postby beck123 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:37 pm

I think that six may be too young to have established a southern identity. The same thing is seen in "military brats" who often move every three years. They end up mostly with no regional sound to their voice.

I was raised in the northeast, and I can sound like a James Cagney movie if I want to, but generally there are only glimmers of NY in my voice, and people have to ask to be sure. My son was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida (possibly the largest good-ol'-boy community in the world) and doesn't have a trace of a Southern accent at the age of 15.

So I agree, there are anecdotal exceptions to these broad things I'm saying; but I'm thinking out loud, in a sense, looking for general trends in how the artistry of spoken language moves, both through populations and through time.
Beck

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Postby saparris » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:40 pm

Everyone tends to oversimplify the Southern accent. Along the east coast, there are at least three: Coastal, Midlands, and Piedmont/Appalachian--the former and latter being very distinct. (Midlands accents are another story altogether.)

Charleston natives tend to drop their r's (river = rivuh, dinner = dinnuh, and so on).

The mountain dialect takes those r's and puts them on lots of words ending in vowels (tomater, potater, etc.). The hill folk are also more likely to create multi-vowel syllables in one-syllable words (dead = day-ud, south = sow-uth).

As for pin/pen, they are indeed homophones where I live. If you don't understand which one we're talking about, all y'all need to do is ask.
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Postby Slava » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:30 am

saparris wrote:As for pin/pen, they are indeed homophones where I live. If you don't understand which one we're talking about, all y'all need to do is ask.
How's about, "All y'all needs do is ask"?
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Postby beck123 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:32 am

Welcome to the crowd.

The Charleston accent is more generally a "low-country" accent that runs from north of Brunswick, GA to well into the NC coast. I like it right much, and it is at its most genteel in the Savannah-Charleston corridor, especially in those cities, proper. It seemed to me less pronounced in the rural areas, which is an unusual reversal of how dialects usually are distributed. The accent you describe also seems confined to the white population, but the low-country blacks have an English dialect and accent of their own, almost sing-song; and they also have a non-English language, gullah, that is derived I think from an African tongue that has been corrupted over the centuries.

As you move north from the hills of SC into "real" Appalachia, the dialect becomes very high-pitched and nasal, and the "oo" and "uh" sounds are lengthened. My experience with this is in western VA, along the WV border, where I worked with local farmers for a number of years. They also speak rapidly compared to the rest of the South. "Hi, how are you?" is voiced as a high-pitched "Hah-hair-yoooo?" with almost every sound nasalized. It's an unnerving sound coming from grown, burly men. Don't let that fool you.
Beck

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Postby saparris » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:26 am

I'm familiar with the Gullah dialect but didn't bring it up here, since it's confined to a population. It's also called Geechee. There is a very good novel called I've Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots, by Susan Straight, that deals with the Gullah-speaking people. It's not as easy read because of the dialect of the characters, but it's a good read nonetheless.

One accent that is particularly intriguing in the South is spoken from Orangeburg, SC southward toward the coast. I'm not sure whether it occurs in neighboring states, but the people around this area say "jook" for "poke" (be careful or you'll jook that toothpick in your eye) and use d's for t's and sometimes l's (eduhvatuh = elevator, Sadan = Satan, biodogy = biology).

The also pronounce green been as gree-un bee-un. The speech is also fairly rapid for the South.

It's certainly more coastal than Appalachian, but it's not Charlestonian, either.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:09 pm

I just knew we'd "pepper" things up when Saparris
got his ole caroliner dandruff a roiled up !
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Postby saparris » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:24 pm

That would be "peh-puh" in Charleston.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:51 pm

Yes, but you don't live in Charleston, you live closer
to Applechooey, o'er the Piedmont somewhere's.
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Postby saparris » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:33 pm

Here an Appaloochy, it's more like pehh-per, with a longer first syllable that your word.

And pay-ee-per is what you write on with a pen, which, or course, rhymes with pin.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:37 pm

And so, how does one say the Pepper of Salt and......?
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