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Speech therapy for Southern accents

No, really. I had a professor in college who said one of his friends from graduate school in the same program went to a class on getting rid of his accent. The professor noted that his friend was now teaching at Yale and he was at UT. Maybe there’s something to it.

33 Responses to “Speech therapy for Southern accents”

  1. John Smith. Says:

    Nothing like a doctor using terms like y’all and “ain’t got none neither yet”… Southern accents annoy me even though I lived down there a long time. I never picked it up and I still have trouble understanding what the hell they are saying.

  2. Mike Says:

    Hang on long enough and there will be late night infomercials for classes to help us yankees lose our northern accents so we can blend in with the natives and have a better chance of career advancement in the southern states where the jobs are.

  3. Jim Says:

    Meh, Works both ways. Ask a Southern, blond, lobbyist how many doors that drawl opens when working north of Virginia.

    And yes, there tends to be an unrepresentative number of attractive blond females working in the lobbyist field.

  4. The Packetman Says:

    Having been raised by two classically-trained music teachers, people often ask me where I’m from. That’s when I tell them “Graineville Tinnuhsee”.

  5. Leatherwing Says:

    John Smith, there’s a difference between having an accent and using poor grammar. They often go hand in hand, but they aren’t the same. And speaking of trouble understanding, have you met anyone from Boston?

  6. mikee Says:

    My mother is from PA and mah daddy is from NC. As a child I never knew the correct pronunciation of “pecan” and I thought cabbage rolls were Southern food. God help me.

  7. bluesun Says:

    Everyone east of the Rockies sounds funny to me…

  8. Weer'd Beard Says:

    Hear that sound? That’s the sound of a Yale Grad resume going through the shredder.

    They cast a lot of bullshit judgements, and pass them on to their students.

    So long as you speak clear proper English an accent is just character.

  9. BobG Says:

    If I have to choose between listening to a Southern accent or someone from Brooklyn, I’ll take the Southerner, thanks.
    Just my opinion.

  10. Jake Says:

    Which southern accent?

    There’s the “Rhett Butler/Scarlett O’Hara” classic southern gentleman accent, the “intelligent but common farmer” accent, the “uneducated trailer trash” accent, the “ignorant Redneck hillbilly” accent (similar but distinct from the trailer trash accent), and probably others I don’t know about. Plus, each of those varies depending on if the speaker is from Virginia (with variations for northern, eastern, and southwest VA), Georgia, Tennessee, North or South Carolina, etc.

    Of course, to the “elite” they all are assumed to be a sign of ignorance, stupidity, and lack of “culture” (except for the “Rhett Butler”, and I think there’s still an automatic reduction of the estimated IQ even in that case).

  11. mita Says:

    Oh, I think you Southerners sound just FAHN.

  12. chris Says:

    Those of you who don’t like the way we talk, let you in in traffic, have no or low state income taxes, act like gentlemen, etc. need to take I-55 or I-75 North.

    I have a very pronounced Southern accent (mostly of the East Tn type) and I think it’s funny when people equate my accent (but it could be my behavior) with a double digit IQ.

    I worked in the Midwest (which is a part of the North to me) years ago, and almost everyone got a good natured laugh about my accent.

    They would ask me to talk for them and I would oblige.

    But I moved back to Tn fairly quickly and never looked back.

    I use proper English, but I apparently sound kind of funny.

    I guess in today’s PC environment (where the State of Mississippi is little more than a metaphor for Jim Crow and racism), a Southern accent is bad but Ebonics (in which I am reasonably fluent) is okay.

  13. fucema Says:

    I like southern accents. Especially coming from “attractive blond females”. 🙂

  14. Stretch Says:

    Sweet Young Things (who mature into Dear Old Things) know a Southern accent will open doors (and wallets) faster than any other. Said accent has allowed SYTs to, quite literally, get away with murder.
    Add pair of green eyes and red hair and there is no stopping her.

  15. Bill Says:

    As a born and bred southerner, who developed my accent honestly in South Carolina and then refined it in Texas, I was sent to speech therapy for 2 years in Washington State in the 1960’s. This ain’t new folks!

    Now, I have no apparent accent, (or so I’m told), but about 10 minutes in conversation or on the phone with my cousins, and it comes roaring back.

  16. Phelps Says:

    It’s actually easy to lose an accent, no therapy involved, but you have to have some time where you look like an idiot. This is a trick from my RFTV training.

    Fake a foreign accent for a couple of weeks. Doesn’t matter which one, scottish, french, chinese, whatever. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for two weeks. Every word you speak in that cheesy accent. When you stop after two weeks, you will be speaking in Standard Midwestern.

    (You don’t need to be accurate in your fake accent, either. Pepe Le’Pew is just fine.) As a side effect, I can put on my old accent like a hat now whenever I want.

  17. John Says:

    Sounds like somebody is uncomfortable with themselves and found a business opportunity. “I’ll help you overcome that stereotype that half of american society has…” To which, I say, “Ah thank y’all kin suck mah bawlz.”

  18. John Says:

    Just a clarification here: I’m not some English-or-die type. I speak three languages, but I also recognize that there are a few thousand primary languages around the globe and many, many dialects and subdialects of each. The big problem I have with this, uh, person, is that they’re using the term “therapy”. That suggests that it’s a disease, disorder, or medical problem. It’s a culture. Leave it be.

  19. Lyle Says:

    Now, John; there’s a world of difference between having an accent and being illiterate, don’t you think? I would hope that a PHD in medicine would have picked up some grammar along the way, his accent notwithstanding. Anyway’ “you-all”, contracted to “y’all” isn’t bad grammar to my thinking.

    A musician we know, from Idaho, went to Nashville. The people he performed with told him his PNW accent simply would not do– “You’re gonna have to learn to wang it, Boy!” he was told. He did. That’s speech therapy FOR a southern accent.

    Anyway; I find a nice southern accent, combined with good grammar and speaking skills, to be rather becoming. What’s the problem? I also find what I can only refer to as “Institution-Speak” (Sarah Palin has a mild affliction of it) to be extremely annoying. Real people don’t talk like that—most of them are women who work in government jobs, but we’re finding it in men with radio announcer positions. I think of it as a form of baby talk. The word “can’t” is pronounced as “Keeeey-ant”. Blech! Give me a southern accent any day over that.

  20. John Smith. Says:

    Sweet ice tea…. With a southern accent it becomes Sweat ass teeu…..

  21. Bubblehead Les Says:

    Check out the PBS Documentary “Do You speak American?” Turns out there something like 14 or 15 Regional Dialects in North America, with a couple different “Southern” ones. Enlightning.

  22. Justthisguy Says:

    Jake, my Dad spoke with an annoying GA high-speed Piedmont accent and my Mom with a beautiful melodious MS accent. I love to hear Haley Barbour talk.

  23. Justthisguy Says:

    Robert Heinlein famously exerted himself to lose his annoying Midwestern accent. A “Corn Belt rasp” he called it. I have to suffer it all the time here in Southern FL. I liken it to having somebody take corkscrews to my ear holes.

  24. Sebastian Says:

    I shed the worst of my Philly accent in college. Just kind of happened. I still have one, it’s just not as pronounced as it once was. When I go home and listen to my sister, who never lost hers, I can’t believe I ever sounded like that.

  25. Sebastian Says:

    Check out the PBS Documentary “Do You speak American?” Turns out there something like 14 or 15 Regional Dialects in North America, with a couple different “Southern” ones. Enlightning.

    I can detect a difference between the accents in people who were born and bred up here (Northeast of Philly) and from people where I grew up (South of Philly). It’s hard to find someone who’s accent hasn’t been muddled, but you can tell if you can find someone. Chris Matthews from MSNBC is from this area, and has a pretty un-muddled accent found in Northeast Philly.

  26. comatus Says:

    “You all” is consummately literate. It’s from Attic Greek.

    A “couple different ‘Southern” ones”? You’re joking, right? I can distinguish a dozen Southern dialects, including several that are mother-tongues here, 50 miles from Detroit. And I’m what you’d call an amateur. That’s Yankee for “Yankee.”

  27. Crawler Says:

    It’s amazing that anyone would actually take the time and/or spend their money trying to erase a part of their person and history; especially if it’s recommended by some Ivy League schumck with a certificate.

    P.T. Barnum was right…and yes, I’m a Southerner…

  28. Justthisguy Says:

    John Philip Sousa spoke with a Southern accent. That settles it for me.

  29. Beaumont Says:

    Some accent trivia: Growing up in the former State of Franklin, most people I knew spoke with a sort of mid-Virginia accent, rather like natives of Charlottesville. Makes sense, really, since the region is as much culturally Virginian as Tennesseean.

    It also seems to me that the “trailer trash” accent is a 20th Century development, an outgrowth of country-music radio.

    BTW, John, if your comment is indicative of your personality, we’re happy to have seen the last of you.

  30. Seerak Says:

    I used to equate Southern accents with the stereotypes (grew up in Canada just across from Buffalo), until I met a lovely redhead from Clemson, down in N’awlins. Her accent was downright musical, and I jettisoned those stereotypes right quick.

    For my part, I’ve been away from Canada long enough to have lost the “eh”. I notice it all the time now when I go back.

  31. Mr Evilwrench Says:

    My son (15) just yesterday speculated on the various “accents”, and how we had none. We’re in central IN, heart of the flat “accentless” default for media types. To this I observed that nobody has an accent. They may have an accent to us, but we have one to them. Once you get past transmitting meaning, it’s all different styles of music.

  32. Cynthia Says:

    Accent reduction/modification is not a disease or a disorder, therefore, it is not considered therapy and is not covered by medical insurance. However, speech-language pathologists are the expert for helping people reduce their accents, especially if it is a barrier or have a negative impact on the speaker. For more information on accent reduction/modification visit: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/accent_mod.htm

  33. Lynda Katz Wilner Says:

    I confirm what Cynthia says. Many people want to modifiy their foreign accent or regional dialect. The goal isn’t always to eradicate accents. Foreign accents can be modified if the individual feels it is interfering with communication and career success. However, if the person is understood, their accent should not be an issue.

    Other people want to modify their regional dialect to minimize attention to it. This is especially the case if they are no longer living in their “home state.” A New York accent may not be desirable when working in another state, or a person from the South may not want an accent when conducting business up north. Actors may also want to lose their regional accent to prevent type casting, e.g., Boston Accents. There are training materials available to address these concerns.