Sunday, July 8th, 2012
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.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Must Read, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: accents, Colorado, Country music, Midwest, Nashville, New York, parenting, Sacramento, southern accent, Tennessee, The South, toddler
Sunday, November 20th, 2011
Though I wasn’t born and raised in Nashville, my wife and I met, married, had our first child here. I am one of the biggest Nashville fans there is. I love this city! Therefore, I feel honored to share with you today why you should move your family to Nashville; that is, if you’re considering a new city to move your family.
With a population of 601, 222, Nashville is the 25th largest city in the United States; sandwiched in between Washington DC and Denver, Colorado; both of which contain a nearly identical population. Some people say that Nashville is the biggest small town you’ll ever visit. It’s a perfect mix of big city opportunities, open-mindedness, and Southern hospitality.
Here are my top 8 reasons to raise a family in Nashville, Tennessee:
1. Financial opportunities. The cost of living is decently low and the job market is pretty big. I had no problem getting a very good job straight out of college, as did my wife. Then after moving away for 8 months when our son was born, it was no problem to return back to our former employers. Granted, we have wonderful employers; but still, it’s a land of opportunity here.
2. Central location. Nashville is located in the middle of Tennessee, which is tied with Missouri for being America’s most border-friendly state; they both border 8 other states. From Nashville, you’re close enough to the rest of the South, yet still in close proximity to lower Midwestern states like Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. An eight hour drive from Nashville in any direction can get you all kinds of places.
3. Cultural diversity. I’m the kind of person who thrives by being around different people and cultures. In Nashville, I’m never too far from someone with a last name I can’t pronounce or spell. I have noticed that over all, the collective accent here is a watered-down Southern one; comparable to Louisville, KY. We have the largest US population of Kurds (around 11,000); not to mention an impressive Jewish population for a Southern city. Yet there are still no Jewish Country music stars… Unless Taylor Swift’s last name is really Stein. (It’s not; I checked.)
4. Health-consciousness. Everyday on the drive to work, I pass several runners and bicyclists, whom I assume are preparing for Nashville’s Country Music Marathon. When it comes to finding healthy food, you’re not limited to fast food joints with yellow and red signs to subconsciously try to get you to slow down and stop there. As far as grocery shopping, in addition to a large Whole Foods Market presence here, it’s pretty easy to find a Publix, where kosher-abiding, lenient vegetarians like my wife and I can easily find what we need to plan our meals.
5. Friendly people. Anytime I’ve ever heard an outsider talking about their visits to Nashville, they always comment on how friendly everyone is down here. I’m not saying you won’t get flipped off in after-work traffic if you cut someone off; it’s not a utopia. But over all, people are genuine here.
6. Social opportunities. No doubt about it, living in Nashville means you’re always on the go- because there’s a lot going on here; in a good way. In addition to the financial opportunities, there are endless social opportunities here. It’s the kind of place where if you have trouble making friends, it’s your own dang fault.
7. Moderate climate. Nashville is hot in the summer and cold in the winter; yes, it actually snows here. But it’s never too hot or too cold for too long. Not to mention, the land itself is beautiful. The downside: Nashville is not kind to allergy sufferers. If you’ve never had allergy or sinus problems before, you probably will once you get here.
8. Religious community. We are often cited as the”Buckle of the Bible Belt” as well as the “Protestant Vatican.” It’s easy to find a church as huge or as tiny as you like. Of course, the ease of finding a like-minded religious gathering isn’t limited to just Protestants. My Catholic mother-in-law had no trouble finding a Mass she enjoys when she visits here. Accordingly, if you are Mormon, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, or Muslim, you’ll also easily find a place to worship.
If you will be visiting Nashville soon, leave a comment on The Dadabase Facebook wall and I’ll be happy to help you plan your weekend according to your family’s tastes.
Categories: Home Life, Must Read, People, Spirituality, Storytelling | Tags: family, Greek, Jewish, kosher, Muslim, Nashville, Tennessee