Just getting around to writing this…When I first moved to this town two years ago, someone who knew I came from Georgia told me it was a “backwater” state. Now, like the good Southern woman I am, I simply smiled at this giant of intellect like butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth like my momma taught me, and I said: “It’s too bad you think that. You’re missing out on a lot with that preconception.” She was tremendously unsophisticated I thought.
Recently, someone suggested to me they didn’t even know where Georgia was on a map (solipsism is fun!) and very recently I was told that someone had been employed at another organization where the press liaison was a guy with a pronounced Southern accent and, because of this, when he talked to press he made the organization look “really bad and dumb.” Ahem. Where to start…
Well, I guess by acknowledging that I kind of understand now why other Southerners I know that live here aren’t as vocal as I am about being proud of our shared regional beginnings. Not to say I agree that you should let the perpetually unhappy (because you kind of have to be to try to make folks feel bad about something like where they come from. I mean Jesus. Get a hobby.) make you feel ashamed of what I consider to be a great advantage. But I do understand.
Second, it occurred to me after a conversation with a friend who said maybe it might be okay to tone down the accent in “professional” settings, what would happen if someone told someone from the West Indies not to sound like Bob Marley. Or if someone from India was told that they had to sound Midwestern in order to be taken seriously. Or if any native Spanish-speaker was told they made an organization sound bad and dumb because of their accent.
So, um, I think the twang stays. Y’all. Also, there’s this:
Around the turn of the 18th 19th century, not long after the revolution, non-rhotic speech took off in southern England, especially among the upper and upper-middle classes. It was a signifier of class and status. This posh accent was standardized as Received Pronunciation and taught widely by pronunciation tutors to people who wanted to learn to speak fashionably. Because the Received Pronunciation accent was regionally “neutral” and easy to understand, it spread across England and the empire through the armed forces, the civil service and, later, the BBC.
Across the pond, many former colonists also adopted and imitated Received Pronunciation to show off their status. This happened especially in the port cities that still had close trading ties with England — Boston, Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah. From the Southeastern coast, the RP sound spread through much of the South along with plantation culture and wealth.
After industrialization and the Civil War and well into the 20th century, political and economic power largely passed from the port cities and cotton regions to the manufacturing hubs of the Mid Atlantic and Midwest — New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, etc. The British elite had much less cultural and linguistic influence in these places, which were mostly populated by the Scots-Irish and other settlers from Northern Britain, and rhotic English was still spoken there. As industrialists in these cities became the self-made economic and political elites of the Industrial Era, Received Pronunciation lost its status and fizzled out in the U.S. The prevalent accent in the Rust Belt, though, got dubbed General American and spread across the states just as RP had in Britain.
Okay, moving on. This hairstyle is legit. Although the guy with the African drum frightens me and I’m sure he’ll show up in a future nightmare.
I think I’ve finally made a decision. Thanks for the advice Pops.
Oh how magnificent! I love Nicole Ari Parker and Blair Underwood just gets better looking. My late pup Stella’s namesake. My pops happened to be watching it on TV when I took the little goober home seeking a name. I had her for 13 years. Sometimes I miss her really badly…
Finally, How incredible is this song?
I move when I hear it. I can’t help it. And sharing it with you has allowed me the opportunity to play with this.