Since I spent the first 27 years of my life in Mississippi, I have a bit
of a southern accent. Although, I lost quite a bit of it while i was living in
the blandly accented Pacific Northwest, I seem to have gained a bit of
it again living in Germany.
The most noticable aspect probably are my vowels, which i'll try to
appoximate here. They are all diphthongs except for the vowel I.
Perhaps, the most noticeable aspect of the southern accent is the use
these and other diphthongs.
Often where most Americans would place a simple vowel, I will substitute a
diphthong, and vice-versa.
Using these vowels makes a southerner's speach have alot of somewhat
melodic dips and glides in his words.
- The short a sound is sometimes followed by a schwa sound.
E.g., the word cap is pronounced similar to CA-uh-P.
However, the uh sound is very faint and not emphasized.
- Similar for the short i sound. E.g., I'll pronounce
lift as li-uh-ft, again with the uh taking much less
emphasis than the li.
- Whereas the diphthong oi which is pronounced by many Americans as a
trivocal, I pronounce it as a bivocal. E.g., oil is pronounced
by many Americans as oh-ee-ul, but I pronounce it as oh-ul.
- The words on and off get different initial diphthong sounds.
On gets a long o followed by a w sound -- a homonym to
the word own containing a hard w sound. The word off
gets a back vowel aw sound, again with a hard w sound.
- I make another exception with the vowel that most americans
diphthong-ize. Most Americans make the long I sound into a
diphthong. I do as well normally but rarely at the ends of words.
When most Americans say the I sound in why or buy,
they are really saying WI-EEY and BI-EEY, but I tend to
omit the dip.
Although, I still pedantically
pronounce my wh's differently than my w's, and my back
low vowels differently than my middle high vowels. I.e.,
cot != caught, and
witch != which; weather != whether; wale != whale. I also tend to pronounce the l's in such words as
help, walk, and talk. This seems to be
especially true when I talk slowly.
I generally pronounce en the same as in and em the same
as im. Thus, pin and pen are indistinguishable,
as are gem and Jim. This should not seem strange when you realize
that almost everyone pronounces er and ir the same.
For me, the present indicative verb conjugation is as follows.
I go we go
you go yall go
it goes they go
I prefer double modals to the more awkward, standard American expressions.
E.g., I'd say, "I might could do that," rather than, "I might be able
to do that."
Another interesting aspect of modals is that the word have is
pronounced differnelty when it means must than when it means
posess or as an auxiliary verb.
- When have means must it is pronounced haFF: I have to do
- When have means posess it is pronounced haV: I
have only $5 in my pocket.
- And have is pronounced haV in the sentence: I
have been there many times.
Southerners use several words and expressions which were commonplace to
English at one time but have fallen out of todays standard usage. Three
examples quickly come to mind.
Also, it seems that many times the t's will become d's or become
glottal stops or simple disappear altogether. That should not seem so unusual if
you think of words such as listen or soften.
- Fixin' to -- meaning
preparing to, or on the verge of, or will be doing it immediately. E.g.,
I was just fixin' to call you back.
- Reckon -- to think, believe, or
suppose. E.g., Do you reckon the file's corrupted?
- And yonder, a place located about 5 to 10 seconds away (by foot usually). E.g.,
Stand over yonder while I light these fire crackers.
- The words latter and ladder sound alike.
- The word Atlanta sounds like A'lanna.
Click on Jezabel to return to jimka's homepage...