Sunday, March 24, 2013

Accent Deprived

I’m from Idaho. The north central part. And not the potato growing part, but the logging, steelhead part. Like most Idaho natives I am accent deprived. You can tell where someone hails from or at least the general area as soon as you exchange a "pleased to meet you" for a "howdy". Well, as long as they have an accent.

My ability to distinguish a Maine accent from, say, a New Hampshire one is a little lame but I can tell they aren’t from Minnesota. Most New Englanders sound pretty much the same. They have this thing about misplacing their ‘R’s. They drop them off words like car and hang them onto words like idea. "That cahw design was a smaht ider." Folks from Salem, Mass. are apt to say, "That cahw design was a wicked smoht ider."

The same thing pretty much holds true with southern folk. My accent detection is not so refined that I can tell a Georgia native from a South Carolinian. But I can figure out that they are from the south. Maybe not Texas, though. I have been told that Texans have an drawl all their own....something with a bit of a twang. I have a pretty keen sense of the obvious. That’s why I can tell right away that they aren’t from North Central Idaho...or Montana.

Once one of my cronies commented on how she liked a Montana accent. Montana accent? I insisted that folks from Montana don’t have accents; southern or otherwise. They may or may not sprinkle in swear words or bad grammar, but they have no discernible accents. It didn’t matter to her. She enjoyed chatting with a fella just to be entertained by his "Montana accent". Turns out he was originally from Mississippi.

I get it. I kind of like the sound of a southern accent, too. I have a friend from Georgia, or maybe it’s South Carolina. Either way, every now and then I ask him how it is he makes Hush Puppies. No way I’m going to make them. I just like to hear him tell how to do it.

And how about those British? You know they really aren’t smarter. They just tend to sound that way. Who didn’t like to hear Sean Connery say, "Bond. James Bond." ?

Then there is the fake accent. Usually southern. And usually turned on by some attention seeker who has never been further south than Boise? A few years back, in my former life, I was involved in a little production called Fabrics to Fashion Show and Follies. At the suggestion of one of the other players I invented a character called Sewella Nozitall. She was supposed to be from the south with an accent and a wide-brimmed hat to prove it. Did I mention she was a self-proclaimed expert? And what an accent. I laid it on real thick. Then a few months later I attended a sewing seminar. At lunch I was seated at the same table as a real life Sewella Nozitall. Accent and all. I would bet she left her hat in the car. What an experience that was. You can guess that I had a hard time not spitting my beverage out when she opened her mouth. Which, by the way, was quite frequent. I’m glad she wasn’t in the audience for the aforementioned fashion show. That might have embarrassed even me.