Florida resident Renee Durette solved the Wheel of Fortune puzzle, “Seven swans a-swimming,” but was ruled incorrect by the judges. Dumbstruck, along with the other two contestants, she watched her money disappear from the screen as the woman next to her won the puzzle by repeating the same answer… or was it? The host of the show, Pat Sajak, explained to everyone that, “…she kinda did it in the vernacular and left off the “G”.
Swimmin’—Who knew that the non-southern G would cost her $3,850
and possibly thousands more?
Swimmin’—I hear it a lot in Virginia—along with eatin’, cookin’, sleepin’, writin’ and
so on. I wonder if I dropped those Gs somewhere in my past, or even now. Probably.
During my youth, I never thought much about how I sounded.
My parents corrected bad grammar when they caught it, but as for my accent, no
comments. Not until college did someone notice my pronunciation of “really”
that made me listen to myself. I said
to my friend something like, “It’s really
cold.” Instead, he heard, “It’s rilly cold.”
That was the beginning of my occasional work to “lose the
It took years to leave behind some of the words and
expressions that were passed down to me from my parents and grandparents; from
the whole community of native Virginians—though each part of the state have
their own form of Southernisms and degree of drawls.
Apparently, I wasn’t trying hard enough when I smiled as I
was leaving a group of office workers in Manhattan and said, “Y’all have a nice
That was my last bonafide “Y’all.” I was 25 years old.
What is it about the southern accent that is so fascinating?
Or, disliked? There have been many times that I’ve seen a host of a TV talk or
game show laugh at, mimic, or patronize the southern guest while she (usually
it’s a woman) smiled and probably thought, “If I had a dollar for every time
someone mentions my southern accent…”
On the other hand, most people who have a strong New York or
Boston accent evoke a different reaction and they (who have the accent) seem to
be proud of it.
As a child, people in my community believed that anyone who
had an accent more southern than theirs was “country.” If it was more northern
than theirs, they’d say, “They talk proper.” Somehow, there was no thought given to the speaker
being articulate or if the speaker mangled the English language; it was all
about the accent.
I’d like to think that most people know the difference; that
an accent does not determine how well you speak.
As for my current accent—Well, it’s a hodgepodge of dialects
acquired from my native Virginia roots, along with remnants of living in
Maryland where I worked with a hundred relocated New Yorkers who sped up my
speech, and from living in Michigan.
Nowadays, I don’t feel that I have to lose whatever southern
accent I have, because when you think about it—what’s wrong with it?
By the way, I like listening to all people and have fun
guessing where they are from.
What do you think
about the various accents in the United States, or in your country?