On concealing my natural Southern accent
"Where You From, Honey?"
Excerpt: "By eighth grade, I made a studied, conscious effort at enunciation, to pronounce the g at the end of going, or fixing, while avoiding 'fixing' when I meant 'about to,' as in, 'I’m fixing to go to the store.' I did not want to sound poor or uneducated. More to the point, I did not want to sound Southern because to me those adjectives – poor, ignorant, racist, Southern – were inextricably linked."
Oh man, I can relate to this article. I have consciously tried to drown out my natural Southern accent and purposely used my adapted voice for decades. Although Paul will tell you that my Southern often slips out when I get pissed off.
Likewise, If I'm around other Southerners, I'll slip back into 'talking like a hick.' Suddenly, I'll talk like I did when I was ten years old and at the dirt track races with my family and a bucket of fried chicken with all the fixins. Or maybe I'm in the backyard with my cousin Jim, catching grub worms and laughing. Or maybe I'm taken back to the times I camped at Smith Mountain Lake or Philpott Lake with my mom, dad, brothers, and cousins, catching small fish and cooking them up at our campsite.
As much as I can temporarily squelch my Southern accent, I cannot erase that I am Southern by birth (born in Covington, the third-smallest town in the entire state of Old Virginny, just scant miles from West Virginia), or that I was raised in a blue-collar family with so-called traditional (conservative) values.
I still maintain that small-town, blue-collar spirit within me. But thankfully, I have expanded my mind, earned 18 years of formal education, and was able to travel the world, visiting eight foreign countries in addition to 28 states within my own country. All of those things reshaped some of the obsolete, archaic 'values' with which I was raised. For that I am thankful.
I was fortunate to have opportunities while growing up that many others did not. Perhaps if they had they could better understand why I have a love/hate relationship with the South, some Southerners, and my oft-hidden Southern accent. I'm trying to reconcile and make peace with all of it, but it's going to take a while.
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