Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I do declare, suh!

Miss Janis waxes rhapsodic regarding the dulcet tones emanating from the northerly end of her very Southern husband.

We've talked about it here a while back sometime, but we might as well explore it again--that being the topic of Southern speech. Lyman seems well practiced in the art, what with his legal training and all, and it really is one of those things that can stand you in good stead around here in the courtroom. There is a certain way of lawyer talking that goes over well. Al Gore didn't have it--too lispy and lugubrious. John Edwards--oh, yeah, in spades, but in the "young, hard-charger" mode. There is another pattern that works even better--the slower, more genteel, Shelby Foote-style cadence that is particularly mesmerizing. You could sit there all day and listen to them read the JC Penney catalog, just because it sounds so good.

Around here, there are actually a couple of variations--I amazed my friend Pam the Liberal one time (Pam comes from a family of lawyers, and married one once) by being able to note the difference between the speech of Samford's Cumberland School of Law grads and grads from the University of Alabama School of Law. And the difference between them and the people who go to night classes.

For the rest of us, it's hit or miss--sometimes you can tell people think you must only have three brain cells, or they act like they can't understand you, and then occasionally you get someone who thinks it sounds real cute. I talk to people a lot on the phone, which (along with my natural ability at mynah bird-like mimicry) has necessitated I do my best to be more neutral than I usually am, until I figure out who the caller is. If it's someone from beyond the borders, I keep things more stilted, but after I figure out it's someone I know, I revert back to my more usual speech. Which is really not that impressive. Unless I'm mad.

IN any case, the bigger problem is when amateurs try imitating us. This Free Republic post from a couple years back points out that it's terribly difficult to find plausible Southern accents in the movies. Even from people who grew up here--I remember some silly made-for-TV movie Birmingham's Wayne Rogers was in, and he sounded like he hurt himself trying to forget his weird acquired New York accent in order to drawl properly.

Anyway, just remember that just because someone talks slow doesn't mean they think slow.

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