Saturday, February 27, 2010

Understanding Accents

When I went off to college I was teased constantly about my accent. I remember the first day in French class, hearing the giggles as I answered, "Je m'appelle Catherine." Thinking back, I'm sure it was hilarious because I had the biggest southeast MO accent ever. Some classmates later asked me where I was from. They guessed Mississippi or possibly Alabama. They were surprised to hear that I was from the same state where I was going to college. I grew up in the bootheel, the southeast part. I went to college in Columbia, MO - same state, but worlds apart in accents.

I wanted to hold onto my accent as a memory of home, but I soon lost it. When I went home one weekend, my mom commented, "You're starting to talk like them northerners."

I do like the southeast MO accent. I find it very efficient. Letters are left out that aren't necessary and the meaning is still understood. For example, the g on -ing ending words. "You all" becomes "y'all." Words are slurred together or middle letters are left out. "Cold" and "told" become "code" and tode." On the other hand, sometimes 1 syllable words become 2 syllable words. A conversation may sound like
"Are y'all code?"
"Well ye-es, I tode you I was code. I'm fixin' to get a blanket."

One time in college, I told a person, "Sorry I was late." I had to repeat it a few times. He kept hearing, "Sorry I was light."

Recently, I realized the mistakes that can happen when we don't fully pronounce our words. The other day, a student asked me why we sing, "Whom should I sin?" Ahhh, endings are important.

I also remember the confusion between calling the evening meal either supper or dinner. During the first week of college, someone asked me if I wanted to go eat dinner. It was 5:00 in the evening. I responded, "Dinner? I had dinner 5 hours ago." I wasn't trying to be smart, I really was clueless. She also had no idea what I was talking about, so she changed the question to "Do you want to get something to eat?" That was an easier question to answer.

I had lots to learn in college - including the language barrier.

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