I was listening to NPR on the way home this evening, and I was sucked into a story about accents.
Why? Because my accent (NC Appalachian, if there is such a thing) has been both a help and a hindrance during my life.
When I travel, especially to locations far away from NC, it’s awesome. People stop me to tell me that they love my accent. People are automatically charmed by me (though I can be charming without speaking), and people tend to be very friendly.
When I am at work or in the South, people tend to automatically put me in that box with the big, fat label that says “Hillbilly Talking, No Coherent Thinking”. Televisions shows, movies and radio have perpetuated this stereotype that anyone with a pronounced southern accent is stupid — we’re all Jethro Bodines — bumbling, fumbling, idiots.
It has not been uncommon for people that have just met me to underestimate my capabilities based solely on my accent. I have mentioned it before on Facebook:
During my MBA program, I even had a professor call it a speech impediment. While I corrected him that an accent isn’t an impediment, that comment has stayed with me for two decades.
In the end, whether positive or negative reactions, except when I am in my hometown, my accent draws looks and comments wherever I go.
Thus, whenever I hear or read anything about accents, I am interested because it’s a subject that is very relevant to my world.
And today, the program on NPR was not about Southern accents, but about all accents in general, and Boston accents specifically.
This is awesome….even Harvardians get shit for their accent. I have an excellent peer group, and not everyone can claim that.
Here is me repeating the famous phrase:
Definitely not from Boston.
P.S. Click on the iced tea below for an interesting article from Charlotte Magazine about southern accents