I was recently invited by a former college classmate to attend a Free Accent Reduction Seminar she was teaching for “people with heavy regional dialects that they would like to tone down.” Well, thanks, but no thanks.
Many of you, dear readers, have heard me speak live and in person and know that I do indeed have the aforementioned “heavy regional dialect.” It’s because I’m FROM THE SOUTH, the deep South, just about as deep as you can get and not fall off into the water. I’m not from the mid-West or California, and furthermore, I do not wish to sound like I came from anywhere else except for my beloved birthplace, Alabama. You might as well ask me to make my heart beat differently.
I realize that I can’t say “sill” without making it sound like a marine mammal, that most of my words have two syllables whether they are intended to or not, that I occasionally leave off a concluding “r,” and that I probably commit about a thousand more crimes against phonology on a daily, if not hourly, basis. But let’s just get down where the goats eat – I don’t care.
In fact, I like it. I relish it. I wallow in it. But even more, I enjoy listening to other people who speak with their own unique regional accents. I have family in North Georgia who sound very different from my South Alabama kin. I have friends from the far Northeast to the desert Southwest, from Spain, Belgium, and Newfoundland, and I love to listen to each and every one of them, their peculiar phraseology, their unique intonations and inflections.
Should we feel obligated to shed our native dialects? Should we be ashamed because we don’t blend into a homogenous, linguistically colorless blur? Well, I shan’t. And neither should anyone else.
So, if you think I sound ignorant, go ahead and underestimate me. That’s fine. If you think I sound “cute,” I think you sound condescending. And if you think I should change to sound like you, too damn bad.
My accent is what makes me special, what sets me apart from the monotone masses, what makes me ME. Why in the world would I want to tone that down?
p.s. If you feel the rumbling of another earthquake, not to worry. That’s only Granny turning over in her grave because I just said “damn” in public.