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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I have a Texas accent

   I'll admit it.  I drawl a little bit, though not much.  I speak quickly for a Texan, but that's a personality thing that doesn't necessarily come across in other parts of the country.  Southern accents are handled strangely by the mass media; they are either charming or a sign of ignorance depending on the circumstances.  They are almost never a matter-of-fact issue. 
   Mark at Language Log deals charitably with what seems like really prejudiced assessments of certain accents by a Christie Vilsack, who is speaking at the Democratic Convention tonight.  She kind of implies that Southerners all sound drunk:

"When I ask for directions, I can't understand the slurred speech of southern Americans, who are so polite and eager to please," Vilsack said.
   Gracious be!  Okay, kidding.  Texans actually don't have the stereotypical heavy drawl of Southerners, ours is more lilting and we enunciate pretty clearly.  Still, the stereotype of the ignorant Texan has so much power that people I know who have pretty solid accents themselves cringe when the Shrub demonstrates how much he can sound like a good ol' boy from Midland.  "He makes us sound so ignorant!" people will say.  I mostly just scoff--his accent is way too thick, he's playing it up for votes.
   But the accent I defend.  There is nothing wrong with having a Texas accent--we rule, what's the problem?  Anyone who considers our accents to be a sign of ignorance is ignorant himself.
   Texas accents are one of the fetishized ones, either being adored or castigated.  Whenever I leave the state, my accent draws attention that is generally positive.  And often highly sexualized.  Apparently, some men have a "thing" for a woman who says "y'all" and "fixin' ta".  Sometimes I do wonder if men realize that they are just as likely to meet the brassy Texas broad as they are the humble, Laura Bush-type, but then I feel mean.  Of course they like the brassy Texas broad--who doesn't?  Texas men don't do so well.  They are stereotyped as rednecks, and the Shrub's endless photo-opping only reinforces this stereotype.  I can assure you that Texas men are no more or no less dumb or mean than men anywhere else.  That is to say, you get your assholes and your nice ones. 
   We're fine the way we are--pick on our laws, our politics, whatever, but leave the accent alone.  And I feel the same about New Jersey and all the other places and people that are stereotyped because of their dialect.  If we all sounded the same, it would be perfectly boring.  People fret all the time that TV is somehow ruining our localistic cultures.  One of the best ways to support local cultures is to celebrate, not denigrate the diverse accents.


Blogger BlondeSense Liz said...

Love this post! I love accents though. Love Texas accents.


Blogger Adam said...

Texan has always sounded more nasal and twangy to me. Mississippian is more lilting.

I cut my accent teeth in Georgia (pronounced Jeaw-ja), take that as you will.


Blogger Elayne said...

My favorite Texas accents are the ones featured in the cartoon King of the Hill, which I think does exactly what you say - it celebrates Texas culture without denigrating it.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in San Antonio with a general American accent. At the age of ten I moved to tidewater Virginia. Now that was an accent!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love all the southern accents.
Beautiful just beautiful sounds.
Practical, pioneering influences, homely.


Anonymous yall get me out a here! said...

im texan & i love the fact that i have a different accent than everyone else! ive always wanted to be out among other people so i can really hear it, because everyone else apparently has the same one where i live.
but i HATE it people think were all cowboy & stuff. its just stupid!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those who possess the accent are not imbecilic, yet will have a very firm time in such places as cal, ny, etc. Upper class careers will rather have a member who speaks with accidency. You would not hear a company ceo say "yall" and or "fixin-ta" during a meeting. Good luck accent, it will only survive in Texas. Not anywhere else.


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Anonymous sildenafil said...

It is nice you recognize the way you speak. I have realized that our voice and our accent make us unique. I used to worry about the way I speak because I thought it sounds like wierd, but now I know this is me, and I ended up accepting it!


Anonymous Viagra Online without prescription said...

hey I am from Texas and I feel good about myself and about my accent, I know it is different from other accents and regions in our nation, but that is what differentiates from the yes and I love that!


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