In the South, you’ll find a Scarlett O’Hara drawl, and also a Hee-Haw twang. There’s a little bit of everything thrown in, from Texas to North Florida, from Virginia to Kentucky. I always like to guess where someone was raised based on their speech patterns.
Last week, I thought for certain a woman I met was from North Alabama because she sounded like my Mother and Aunts, but she said she had been born and raised in Mobile. “Really! I thought for certain I heard a bit of Muscle Shoals or Huntsville coming through” I told her. She laughed and then confessed that her mother was raised in Birmingham, so maybe that’s the influence I was hearing.
People have told me I have no Southern accent at all, and they’ve also said they can’t understand a word I say because my accent is so thick. Go figure. I guess it depends who’s doing the listening – and how tired I am.
I love listening for the local dialects and observing linguistics from around the country. I’m glad we all sound different. It gives us flavor and character as a country that was pulled together by all different types of people. I was totally fascinated when I traveled to Boston and bless their hearts, could only understand the word, “lobstah,” which they said quite a bit.
Here’s a little test I found on line years ago that evaluates your word choices as well as how you say a few key words. For instance, do you call it the service road, access road, or frontage road? (I had never even seen one until I went to college in Tallahassee and just called it, “that little road over yonder”).
The test only takes a few minutes and will give you a score when you finish. I scored “100% Dixie – Is General Lee your Grandfather?”
My husband got, “46% Dixie – Barely in Yankeedom” I swanee! No wonder we don’t understand each other! I’ve got work to do!
Here’s the test. Let me know what you score!
“Well I declayuh!” as my sweet Aint Nell would say. 89% on one and 100% on the utha. I was once given some Confederate money as a gift. But I am a hybrid havin’ lived all ovuh.
I can sure recognize a true accent. I find it hard to watch a movie or listen to an audio book when the actors are trying to talk Southern–it’s very distracting. I was searching for a Southern storyteller when I found Kathryn Tucker Windham. Her voice carries me back.
There is a sing-song quality to the Southern drawl, like a melody, and I love it!
Yes indeed on Kathryn Tucker Windham’s sweet drawl. Love it! I was just talking to someone about this the other day and they said they didn’t like Julia Robert’s “fake” Southern accent in Steele Magnolias. Even though she’s from Georgia, she felt the need to pump it up a bit, and therefore mangled it.
This is the first time I have sent you a message. I live in a small town in NC. I did score 100 percent Dixie. I love the mountains of Tennessee/NC. Whenever I go there I always get asked where I am from because my accent is so heavy. I embrace it now. It is part of my heritage and I am proud of it. I just love your blog. You highlight so many good things about what Southern life is all about. I know Northern folk kid us but if life down here is so strange, why do they all keep moving down here? Just kidding. Bless their hearts!
Oh Victoria, you make me laugh! We are a strange bunch aren’t we? But for some reason, we like being strange! Ha! So glad you commented. It’s nice to know you are out there. Don’t change your accent one bit!
Lot of fun,Leslie Anne! I got 79% on the first one–maybe being in Latrobe PA during early years left an impression. 100% Dixie on the advanced test.
I love for people to keep their regional accents. Why should we all want to sound alike?
Amen to that! The same goes with food. I like being able to get authentic regional food when I travel. Grits in New York and Bagels in Alabama just don’t translate. Congratulations on your perfect score!
Scored 94% on the first test and 100% on the advanced test. Granddaddy R.E. Lee would be proud (or is it Big Daddy R.E. Lee?). We honored my granddaddy by naming our cat Robert E. Lee Roy Rufus.
Your cat’s name alone puts you in the Southern Hall of Fame.
Oh, I thought of something and just had to come back and tell you. We had a guy come over and paint the inside of our house and his son helped him. The son didn’t come one day and asked how he was? He said you’re the only person I know who can take a one syllable word and turn it into two. His son’s name was Ben and I guess I say Be en! 🙂 They tease me at church too because I said hee al for hill. Lord have mercy.
Continue being a sweetie,
You keep doing your mission work on those linguistically challenged New Yorkers! Bless your little Southern heart!
Well you can take the southern gal to yankeeland but you can’t take the southern out of her! This was fun and I got 98% southern. I surprise a few folks up here by the things I say. I had to giggle as I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Wetumpka and their accents were a hoot. She’d say, “Shelia, would you like a glass of wattah, honey?” Every now and then my uncle would give me a quattah! 🙂 Keep it up.
Be a sweetie,
I scored 50% as a born and raised Midwest girl – odd. ( Though I have lived in Dallas, Memphis and New Jersey) I don’t think I have an accent, but I’m sure all the southerners would comment on my Midwest nasal twang!
Love it. Sounds as if you are a good representation of us all!
Needless to say I am not surprised by the results…18% Dixie. Wow! You are a Duke of Yankeedom! I am Boston born and bred, but trust me I only “pahk the cah” …translation “park the car” when I am back in Beantown. I have a subscription to Southern Living and truly love so many southern traditions, foods and locales, but those Boston roots run deep. I suppose once a Yankee always a Yankee, although this Yankee does not apply to baseball, Red Sox or the Baltimore Orioles are my teams…Thanks for sharing the test, fun!
You can be proud of your Boston roots. Such a great place to live and claim as your “people place.” I’m waiting to meet someone with the old Carry Grant – style New York Knickerbocker accent. I love hearing that in old movies.
Well, it says I am 92% Southern. I don’t know about a few of the questions though. Like caramel. It has four syllables, but it didn’t ask that. Care uh mae ul!!
Ha! I like your way of thinking. I can’t remember which one, but there was also another word that I pronounced a certain way and it didn’t list that choice either. We may need to write a test of our own!
91% southern, but would have said definitely more.
We’ll still count 91 as an “A.”
Only 84%. I blame my mispent youth traveling up North and in the West.
Broadening your horizons sometimes ruins a perfectly good drawl.
97%….Gen. Lee is family!!!
ALABAMA girl all my life!
I’ve heard reports of you driving around town in the General Lee wearing your Daisy Dukes.
I got 65% Dixie. Well under the Mason Dixon Line. And I live in the Midwest; however, I was born and raised in the southern-most “city” in Illinois, and if you were born and raised there, you considered yourself a Southerner!
We’ll take you in the South any time!
Well, I scored 52% Dixie, barely in Dixie~ phew, I just squeaked through! I thought that was pretty good since I was born in Connecticut and grew up in California! My husband has lived here his whole life and I’m sure would score damn Yankee, his NYC parents had bronx accents until the day they died even though they lived most of their lives in Alabama! Fun Stuff~
52% is pretty good, considering your checkered past. Alabama kind of creeps into your soul after a while.
Well, I can’t believe I wasn’t 100% Dixie! 79% with a rosy neck! I remember you teasing me about my accent and I know I have a strong southern drawl. I’m proud of my accent too 🙂 I’m always asked where I’m from, most think it’s somewhere near mars……………..
I adore your accent and am shocked you only got 79%! Try again on a day when you’ve studied harder!
Leslie Anne, 100% Dixie, lived in northeast Alabama all my life! When we travel in Europe, people always think we are from Texas! Most think our southern drawl is fun to hear! Never pay attention until I get out of the South!
Out of the US, I’ve been mistaken for British. Close, but not quite!
I was 84% Dixie they had the nerve to ask me if I still used confederate money….like that would be a bad thing.
OK Leslie…I scored 98% Southern ! Maybe it’s because I grew up 10 miles from where your mom grew up…LOL !!
That would do it! It’s something in the North Alabama water!
I was 13% dixie and declared a Duke of Yankeedom. I guess 12 years in Alabama and 25 years in California can’t take the Wisconsin out of me.
100% Dixie. I really had no doubts about that. I had a thick Southern country accent until I had lived in Fort Walton Beach for a few years. I have lost much of it. I blame it on being an elementary teacher and having to pronounce things just so so. However, it comes out if my family is around or I am reading aloud. Not sure about why on that one, but it does.
My children do not have Southern accents at all. In fact while my daughter was at Auburn, her “sisters” often made fun of her, because she pronounces everything so so. Hmmm…She had a friend who like a boy named Will, but she thought the girl was saying “wheel.” O I love it!
Wheel must have been a charmer! Good point about having to pronounce things correctly for the students, and you’re correct that it all depend upon who we are speaking with. My husband said he could always tell when I was talking to my grandmother because my “southern” was turned up full blast!
I got 79% on the first one which said my neck was a little rosy, and 94% on the second one which asked if General Lee was my Grandfather. Ha! My father insisted that I speech in school because he was embarrassed by the way my mother who was very country spoke. He did not want us to talk that way! I have lived in a number of places, so I suppose that the combination of those things may have lowered my score on the first one. Since I moved back to the Deep South twenty years ago, my progress has backslid. ?
Like I said, it’s how tired I am that determines my level of drawl. I’m sure you’re the same . . . sweetums!
I just knew I would be right there with your husband. But, 100% Dixie here too. When the question started what do you call a bug (and a big old ugly roach ran across my mind). I knew I was pretty close to Dixie! Love roly poly bugs though.
Yes, we have cockroaches as pets down here. They’re huge! Welcome to the 100% club. I’ll understand every word you say!
Happy to say I’m 100% Dixie!!! And I grew up calling it a “fly swat” — till not long ago when (Yankee-born) hubby insisted that it’s a “fly swatter!”
I KNEW you would be 100%! My grandmother called it a “fly-flap.”
Well, shut my mouth..this is my result: “81% Dixie. Do you still use Confederate money?” I was born in Kentucky, but have lived in Indiana, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, back to Kentucky, and now in Alabama 🙂
Those years in the cold northern regions took their toll. Or maybe Florida did it to you, depending on where in the Sunshine State you were. Glad you’re in the safety of Sweet Home Alabama now!
96%. Amazing considering we grew up on the Navy side of town. My mother often corrected my pronunciation when I copied a “yankee” from my classroom.
Those Moms! Military towns are a true melting pot!
Scored 89% Dixie…probably because I became more conscious of pronunciations while living/teaching in PA for a year. Thought I would have scored more Southern by now. Proud of my 89% though!
Sue, you qualify as a, “precious darlin’ of a lady!”
I’m surprised your husband scored so highly.
I’ve been working on (you) him for a very long time. Southern is his second language.