Posts Tagged ‘ southern accent ’

Will My Kid Have A Southern Accent?

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

19 months.

Today my son Jack asked me to turn on the TV so he could watch Elmo on Netlflix.

By “watch” I mean “point to Elmo when he appears on the screen then let Sesame Street serve as background noise as Jack plays with his toys.”

And by “asked me” I mean he simply pointed at the TV and said “On?”

But his version of “on” was pronounced “own.” Whereas when I say the word to him to teach the difference between off and on, I pronounce it as “ahn.”

We live in Nashville, Tennessee. It assumed that people here speak with a thick Southern accent, if for no other reason, because this is where all the Country music stars live.

But the thing is, most of those Country artists moved here from Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, or some other state in the South. And if they are actually from Tennessee, they’re from a good hour outside of Nashville.

Visit Nashville and you will find that most people here don’t actually have a thick accent. Instead, you may here some Indiana or Maryland or Colorado in there instead.

Like my wife, for example, who is from Sacramento, California. And even though I was raised in the South, I don’t have the accent to prove it because my mom was raised in Buffalo, New York.

So Jack is being raised in a major Southern city consisting of a very high concentration of transplants and internationals, by two parents who don’t sound like they are part of the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard or The Beverly Hillbillies.

I predict that though he may have some Southern tendencies regarding his accent right now, when it’s all said and done he will talk the way I do. Like he’s from Louisville, Kentucky or Cincinnati, Ohio.

In other words, a virtually untraceable American accent.

On top of all this, have you ever noticed how Southern accents are extremely rare and underrepresented on TV?

When a character on a TV show or movie is from the South, they often embody a negative or theatrical stereotype, like Sawyer on Lost.

Or even if the actual actor is from the South, they neutralize their accent to be taken more seriously in the world of entertainment.

NBC’s The Office is a prime example of this. The actors who play Andy, Kevin, and Angela are real-life Southerners who don’t show it in the way they speak.

Based on my own unprofessional (!) Wikipedia research, about 35% of Americans are Southerners speaking with a Southern accent. Population-wise, if my assumptions are correct, more Americans speak in Southern dialect than do Midwestern, Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, Western, or any other American accent that exists.

So when we watch TV and movies, we are more likely to hear neutralized accents than we are to hear the same accent that the actual slight majority of America actually speaks.

I believe my son’s “own” will eventually become “ahn” when he tries to say “on.” But I guarantee you that, like his parents, he will still use the word “ya’ll.”

He may pronounce it “yahl” as opposed to the true Southern way, which is “yawh,” in which no actual “L” sound is heard, but at least there will be a little proof he is a Southerner based on how he speaks.

Not to mention the whole “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” thing; which, as his dad, I will make sure he says, ensuring his status as a true Southern gentleman.

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The Relevance of Country Music, As a Dad

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Seven months.

For this past Father’s Day, I received a card from my wife, a card from my son (whose handwriting looks suspiciously similar to my wife’s), and Brad Paisley’s new CD, This is Country Music. It was just perfect.

How could I, the guy whose passion is to positively re-brand fatherhood, not be a fan of a genre of music that respects the idea of family and faith?

Despite living my whole life in the South, I don’t have a Southern accent.  Nor do I drive a pick-up truck, wear Wrangler jeans, or know how to rope a calf.  But I ama proud fan of Country music.  Not only did I meet my wife in 2006 because of it (we met while waiting in line for a taping of the CMT show Crossroads in Nashville), but I grew up in the same small town as the legendary band, Alabama.

While I can’t personally relate to the songs about tractors, cheatin’, and honky tonk badonkadonks, I can relate to the way Country music is brave enough to be simple and honest.

In other forms of music, like Rock, it’s not quite as acceptable or natural or cool to talk about your wife and kids.  Or to mention that you love Jesus, without it being ironic somehow.  In other words, Country music, more than any other genre, holds the strongest value for family and faith.

I am very sensitive to sexism; especially in music, because music is so influential on our culture, whether we are willing to accept it or not.  And this goes for not only Rap music where it is common to openly degrade women to the standard of sex objects in bikinis at pool parties and refer to them as words that are not in my vocabulary, but also in Pop music where it is normal for man-bashing to be common.

Honestly, I don’t care what kind of music it is, if it negatively stereotypes either women or men, it bothers me.  I don’t take it lightly.  Both women and men deserve respect and honor, not to be damned into a stereotype of bimbos and idiots.

But with Country Music, it’s not something I really have to think about.  Because for every “you’re a no good liar” type of Country song that exists, there are a dozen “I love my wife and kids” songs to overpower it.  That’s not the case in other genres.

Granted, I don’t just listen to Country.  I love Jazz,  90’s Alternative, and anything in the likeness of Guster and Pete Yorn.

But when I hear a song like “People are Crazy” by Billy Currington, or “Love Without End, Amen,” by George Strait, there’s a connection there that just can’t be matched by even the coolest, trendiest Rock star.

“Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love,

A secret that my daddy said was just between us,

You see, daddies don’t just love their children every now and then,

It’s a love without end, Amen.”

Love Without End, Amen by George Strait

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