Okay I’m a true GRITS (Girls Raised In The South) but apparently I’ve lost my ear for Southern accents. (Oh and yes plural they are varied from the mountain twang to the Lowlands drawl to the Louisiana who has at least 10 of their own).
I was always pinned at work in Wisconsin by customers as being a Southern Gal. Fine I am, but I’m not. You see my speech is more a mottled mixture that started with a Southern Mountain base. Often at work I’d demonstrate the drawl vs the twang to show that not all Southern accents are the same. Just like Wisconsiners from the southeast talk faster than those from up on the Canadian boarder who are slower and flatter in their intonations. Generally I get along fine with accents and often wonder why subtitles are put on an English speaker when I can understand them just fine.
Now I am in the process of moving back to Tennessee. However, I find myself either asking people to repeat themselves as I listen closely to try to grab onto what they are saying or latching onto one or two words that I understood and going from there.
We drove down to Florence, Alabama from Lawrenceburg. That’s the “big city” close to the house in Leoma Tennessee we are buying. It’s about an hour each way. We were learning the location of things such as JoAnn Fabrics, Target, Books A Million (sorry no Barnes & Noble), Best Buy, Office Depot… you know the things we use regularly. Refusing to shop at WalMart makes Lawrenceburg very limited, heck even those who shop there are limited. Any way we had a gift card for Chili’s, so we ate there for lunch. Nice wait staff but twice has to ask what they said then when they brought our order it went – something, something, didn’t quite catch that, RIBS, something, okay. Now I caught ribs so I helped by saying “Oh he’s got the ribs.” Apparently that was the right response.
While buying ink for my printer, whole reason for the trip, as I was leaving Office Depot the nice lady said very cheerfully and sincerely – something, didn’t get that, something day! I wasn’t sure but I simply smiled and said “Have a nice day too.”
I bought a six pack of beer at the local Kroger. The check-out lady stopped and held my beer looking sternly at me and said something. I smiled. “I’m sorry can you repeat that?” “I need t’uh see yer idee as yer gettin’ al-KEE-haul.” “Oh, okay, if you think I look under 21 bless you dear. Here it is.” Then I smiled hearing first beer called alcohol was amusing to someone who just lived where there were two bars for every church and three bar stools for every person in town. Second because I do have fond memories of alcohol being called al-KEE-haul. Been a’while tho… Oh and don’t confuse idee with an eye-dy which is getting an idea. “I got an eye-dy as how to how to make this work.”
I asked Mike if he was having a hard time understanding people too. He admitted he was. In one instance he had to ask a guy three times to repeat himself. Then Mike got it. Now remember Mike’s home when I met him was only 80 miles north west of there. We are just out of practice.
It isn’t an accent you encounter a lot in the media. So unlike other accents I get on the BBC or Soprano repeats I haven’t heard it much. I didn’t hear it often for most of the last 30 years at least. We’ll get our ear back for it and will be ya’ll-ing, dropping our g’s at the end, and rolling it off just like rest! But it’ll be minus the mountain twang of East Tennessee.
Such are the adventures of moving to a new country in the country. I feel like an expat that’s pretty much been gone for forty years coming home. I guess in a way I am. Until retirement that is then it’s off to the seashore!!