Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's all about the accent

So I'm a native Texan. In fact, I am a southern Texan, a cajun no less. This led me to have a distinct accent as a child. I could ya'll and drawl with the best of them (although at no point in my life did I sound like Adam Sandler's Cajun Man). In third grade my family moved to north Texas and I lost my southern Texas accent. Yes, our state is so big we have different accents for the different areas. So I still retained my Texas accent, but it was not as deep and distinct.

Then, in college, I ventured to the north (or south if you are all hung up on that mason dixon line) and went to school in Washington D.C. A funny thing happened there, I became an amalgamation of all different kinds of accents. My first roommate was from Rhode Island (talk about a weird accent) so I picked up a bit of her, my second roomie was from Indiana (not all that distinct of an accent but she evened out my drawl a bit), and then a friend of mine was from Tennessee (and oh boy did I pick up some good southern girl triple vowels from her - call me Scarlet I was a southern belle around her). The best part was that by the end of the year people though I was from the mid-west, or north-east, or deep-south, but never Texas.

But my homeland called me back and I soon returned to my roots and my nice Texan accent. After five years of working at summer camp around all kinds of accents I became a non-accented person (or at least I thought). To this day, if I don't mention it most people can't really place my accent*. This makes life sort of fun, because I can talk the talk of Tejas or I can pretend to be a yankee or southern belle. Wonder which one I feel like being today?

* Unless you get me excited or angry and then look out here comes the good ol Texas girl with all her long vowels and other such nonsense. If you happen to have a deep southern accent and talk around me, I naturally return to my roots in a sort of accent-sympathy response.

20 Comments:

Blogger Stephanie said...

Your accent is just plain ol' "Southern" to me.

There's really no distintion to us "northerners". We just think you all sound funny. ;)

5/25/2006 12:18 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

steph- did YOU just say I sound funny? YOU? with all your accent?

5/25/2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

with a mom from Ohio, a dad from Texas, and growing up in South Cackalacky, you can imagine what kind of messed up accent I have!! It's great. Like you, I can throw people off depending on my mood for the day. =)

5/25/2006 12:26 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

kristi- I'm so calling south carolina south cakalacky from now on (but not north carolina, they're not cool enough to carry off a name like that)

5/25/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

AMEN to that Stephanie... Southerners just sound funny.

Katie... I haven't heard your accent... but I am positive that YOU SOUND FUNNY.

5/25/2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger Aim Claim said...

Dad from Chicago... Mom from Ohio... I was born in Texas...went to college in South Carolina (or South Cackalacky as it is commonly referred!)... then returned to Texas and am now engaged to a guy with a BIG TEXAS DRAWL. I have to admit it is hard not to pick up a little something!

All that being said... our accent represents all of our unique experiences!

5/25/2006 2:25 PM  
Anonymous jes said...

Ahhh, accents. I've noticed a southern accent popping up in my conversations lately, and i'm having to violently push it back down.

I recently wrote about my accent on my other blog. Maybe I'll post it on JSJ sometime.

5/25/2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger Deals On Wheels said...

I’m 100% with you on this.

My father was born and raised in the central Texas hill country, about an hour or so north of Austin. He is a cattle rancher by trade, so I did a substantial amount of my growing up on a ranch (even though I was being educated primarily in Dallas).

Anyway, my dad has always been rather ashamed of his thick Texas accent. I think that this has more to do with his love of travel than anything else. People in other places (especially abroad) oftentimes have a difficult time understanding him. In fact, one of my dad’s Italian friends (my dad lived in Italy for years when he was younger and is fluent in Italian) is always joking with him that his “Texas drawl” makes him sound drunk when speaking Italian (I think the actual quote was, “Buddy! You sound like you learned to speak Italian while drinking in a bar!”). Poor guy…

So, when I decided to go to boarding school up north, my father was relieved. He knew I was still young enough to correct the central Texas accent that I had slowly been acquiring over the years (I distinctly remember boy in 4th grade telling me that I “talked funny”). After all, I was a mere two weeks into my fourteenth year when I moved to northern Maryland for high school. An entire decade would pass before I would consider Texas my permanent home again.

It didn’t take long to lose my Texas twang, and I quickly became aware of my new northeastern tone and inflection. Then, I went to New York for college and started saying things like “Lawn-guy-land” and “yeah-yeah-yeah”. I lived with two girls from Boston, and learned how to talk without the letter “R”. Plus, colloquialisms, like “Wicked” (as in, “that’s wicked cool) became part of my everyday banter (still are, actually).

Living in DC only furthered this ability to change my accent depending on where I was or who I was with (I’m convinced that almost no one is actually from DC. Instead, people move to DC from somewhere else). In fact, it was almost a problem because I didn’t want anyone to think that I was mocking them or their accent on purpose. It just happens now – I don’t even know that I’m doing it.

This most interesting “accent” (if you can call it that) was the one that I acquired while studying abroad in London. Actually, “accent” would be the wrong word, because I still sounded American – it just got muffled by the change in inflection. They put the emphasis on different parts of words and sentences than we do, and it wasn’t long until I was doing the same thing. The “lingo” wasn’t far behind, either. I think my vocabulary must have expanded tenfold while living in the U.K. Suddenly, words like “myopic”, “brilliant”, “compulsory” and “bollix” were part of my everyday conversational language (taking the place of “shallow”, “awesome/cool”, “I have to”, and “darn” respectively).

Anyway, now that I’m back in Texas my father is concerned that my drawl might reemerge, but I don’t think that’s in the realm of possibility. Everyone says that I don’t have an accent (unless I’m really, really tired, angry, etc. and then the central Texas in me bubbles right back to the surface). But it is kind of nice knowing that my accent (or lack thereof) means that I can essentially blend in anywhere (I’ve never been a fan of “sticking out” in a crowd or calling attention to myself. I’m much, much more of an “introverted, casual-observer” type).

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received from a stranger was when I was living in London. I was on the tube on my way to class. An American woman approached me and asked me for directions. I said, “Sure!” and the woman’s entire demeanor changed.

“Oh, thank goodness! You’re an American! I had no idea!”

Now, it did concern me a little bit that the woman was so excited that I was a fellow countryman – seeing as though she was asking me for directions in a city (and country) that neither one of us were natives. But I was happy to know that I was being successful in immersing myself (especially to the point of blending in). I knew I could do this in other cities and states back in the U.S., but I just figured that I’d always stand out as a foreigner abroad.

5/25/2006 3:08 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

"accent-sympathy response." LOL.

I took a voice and diction class in college because I was working as a radio dj. It helped me to not sound quite so Louisvillian-southern hoosierish.

And by the way, it's pronounced "Lou-a-vul" by us natives, not "Louis-ville".

5/25/2006 3:09 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Yes, I said you sound funny, and...

I DON'T HAVE AN ACCENT!!!!

I don't...

I don't...

I don't...

Ick to northern accents! "Ya der ehna heeeey!" EEEEW!!!! (Except for Ben and Syd from Minnesooooota, 'cause I'm sure they sound adoreable. But ONLY them!)

lol And that is me telling YOU how I really feel. :D

5/25/2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Deals: You never disappoint with your epic comments. I'm always excited to see so many paragraphs in a comment.

5/25/2006 3:52 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Bobby: "Louisvillian-southern hoosierish" definition and examples please

5/25/2006 3:56 PM  
Blogger Older Twin said...

I was in Wisconsin one day for about 6 hours and I had to rent a car at the airport in Milwaukee, and I kept asking the guy renting me the car to say about, because it sounded like aboot. He obliged but in turn made me say ya'll everytime he said aboot. It was great.

5/25/2006 4:20 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

hahahahaha! OT, that's hilarious! Aboot. He must have grown up in Green Bay...

5/25/2006 4:49 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I will henceforth say "aboot" so as to further confuse people of where my accent is from, thanks kristen

5/25/2006 5:00 PM  
Blogger Amstaff Mom said...

Deals does have the best comments!
I too just about lost my Texanese when I lived in England for a month. The gare-age (garage) was the hardest to drop when I came back to the states. I really think I was meant to have been born over there and yet somehow my Guatemalan heritage got in the way. Hmph.

It's funny how accents are. And that the deaf, if they learn how to voice, have no accent, since we only pick up what we normally here.

Amazing.

5/25/2006 8:52 PM  
Blogger Ryan S. said...

Yeah! Yeah! Don't mess with Texas!

And don't mess with Texan women. ;-)

5/26/2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger Deals On Wheels said...

I'm thorough.

Wait?! Did I just get described as “epic”? How awesome is that?! Thanks, Katie!

:D

5/26/2006 3:57 PM  
Blogger The Borg said...

Hi Katie,

I just wanted to say... I love southern accents!

That's all.

5/26/2006 9:25 PM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

accent-sympathy response

Funny.

I ADORE accents. Once, we went to a grocery store in SC where Rob's sis and her family live. The manager rang up our purchases and I could have stood there and listened to him read the phone book for the rest of my life and been perfectly happy.

Plus, I love the way native Alabamans say the word, "AlaBAMa"

I *heart* accents.

5/26/2006 11:09 PM  

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