Writing Life

The Hybrid Accent

Map depicting United States East Coast
Image via Wikipedia

So I was checking out Jessica Buttram‘s blog, per usual, and I realized she was participating in a funky experiment about accents, a prompt which she got from Jamie’s Rabbits who got it from someone else.

And so on… And so on… And so on…

Those of you over 40 are probably having flashback to the commercial for “Faberge Organic Shampoo”

Yeah, me too.

Anyhoo, I’ve spent most of my life above the Mason-Dixon line, but you would be amazed how five short years in N’awlins got all up in this East Coast girl’s upbringing and influenced my dialect!

This probably happened because I so wanted to be a Southerner!

Lord, I loved everything about the South. I loved etoufée and crawfish. I loved how the giant roots from the oak trees pushed up rebelliously through the cement walkways. I loved the scent of magnolia that wafted around. I love that men wore seersucker suits, and nobody laughed at them. And I loved that the women wore enormous hats. I loved eleventeen-bajillion other things, too.

And as a lover of language, I especially loved the way people in N’awlins pronounced certain words.

So it is with great excitement that I share my piece of this experiment.

Yup, I’m bustin’ in with some hybrid pronunciation. For real. This is what happens when you take a Northern gal to the deep south for a few years.

First a few quick things:

  • I’m Jewish. I talk with my hands.
  • Sorry I became a little distracted and ridiculously repetitious at a few points. My husband and son were making pasta and I could hear them whispering in the background. They were trying to find the marinara sauce. Just so you know, in case you are ever visiting my house, the marinara sauce is in the pantry — which is where all cans and jars live until they are opened. Once they found the jar of Prego, it was much easier to focus.
  • You will hear the microwave beeping.
  • Yes, I like throw pillows.

The Words: Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Insurance (added for Jamie).
• • •
The Questions:
  1. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  2. What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
  3. What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  4. What do you call gym shoes?
  5. What do you say to address a group of people?
  6. What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body & extremely long legs?
  7. What do you call your grandparents?
  8. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  9. What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  10. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

What words do you think I pronounced “weird”?

73 thoughts on “The Hybrid Accent

  1. This was great!! It was wonderful to hear your voice. And all y’all who did this are so cute!! I’m actually from Chicago so I don’t usually say y’all. I was in Western New York for the first time last summer. I got to stay a week in Chautauqua courtesy of the Highlights Foundation for children. It was wonderful!!

  2. Y’all! I loved every bit of this video. So great to hear the voice behind a blog.

    Being from Maine, you can imagine the comments I get with my accent. Apparently I don’t use “r” but add an “h” sound. As in, “I pahked my cah in the yahd, yah want some lobstah?” Yep, I’m a true Mainah. Of course, you never realize how strange your accent is until you leave home. And the different terms for things. My first day living near Seattle, I was in shock that people called soda “pop”. And a can of soda was a “tin of pop”. And here in Maine, subs are called “italians” not grinders or hoagies. I was thinking, what kind of place IS this?!

  3. 1. I smiled the entire 8+ minutes I was watching. My face hurts.
    2. You talked about me for, like, 48 straight seconds. You’re my new favorite person.
    3. Norlins. Love it. And you.
    4. Your Pecan-huh? face was a-MAZE-ing. Still laughing.

    1. I could talk about you for longer if you slowed me down to that smooth Tennessee pace. You and Jamie are much calmer than those of us who live on the East Coast. I slowed down while in N’awlins but I’m pretty fast again.

      As you could hear!

      So much fun! Thank you for the inspiration! 😉

  4. Loved it. The only word that was totally foreign to me was the way you said they pronounced mayonnaise in New Orleans. If you said that to me I would have no clue what you were talking about. Pecan I think people most people would understand either way – even if they pronounce it differently.

    I remember my dad told me when he was down south he stopped at a restaurant for lunch. He orderd his lunch and asked what they had to drink. The waitress said “We have cake. Do you want some cake?”. He didn’t want dessert. He wanted a beverage. It took a while to figure out that “cake” was “Coke”. By that point I think he just wanted a Pepsi.

    You never mentioned the soda/pop difference between Syracuse and Rochester. Cities less than 100 miles apart with totally different dialects.

    There’s also British vs. English. You need to make sure you’re wearing you’re knickers, that you don’t get pissed when you go out drinking, then go out for bangers and mash. What fun!

    1. Larisa:

      I bet Jamie from Jamie’s Rabbits says “cake” in lieu of Coke.” Once hubby and I were looking following someone’s directions and they told us to turn right at “Tom Say-vah.”

      Well, we looked everywhere. We could not find that road anywhere.

      It was a Time Saver: a gas station in N’awlins. Specifically one we had driven by 86 times while looking for Tom Say-vah. I love regional dialects. 😉

      1. I prefer cake, so I’d always trade coke for it. And if I ordered cake, they’d assume red velvet like a good southerner 🙂

  5. 1. TP’ing
    2. Rolly-polly’s
    3. Was Soda when I lived on Long Island, now it’s Pop!
    4. Sneakers
    5. Not sure… “Hi all”, “Hello everyone”
    6. Daddy Longlegs
    7. Grandma and Grandpa
    8.Grocery cart
    9. Sun shower
    10. Remote

    That was totally a fun post. My wife from Massachusetts says some weird stuff, like Aunt (all-stuffy-like, not ant), and jimmies are ice cream sprinkles, and bubbler is a drinking fountain. I’ve been a northerner my whole life so don’t have many strange sayings (at least I don’t think so). Loved hearing the voice, I think its so interesting to get to know all these bloggers but never know what they sound like or sometimes even look like. New Orleans or not, to me you still sound like a New Yorker!! 🙂

  6. Weird. You and I pronounce things pretty much the same. It must be an upstate New York thing… I picked up saying Y’all after my cousins moved to N.O. when we were kids. I don’t say it often, but it does pop out on occasion.

    I have picked up on those certain New England words (bubbler, jimmies, aunt, etc).

    To answer those questions:
    1. TP’ing
    2. ?? No idea. I don’t think we have those around here
    3. Soda
    4. Sneakers / running shoes
    5. Hey, Hey guys, S’up, etc.
    6. Daddy long legs
    7. Gram and Gramp
    8. Cart (usually grocery)
    9. Awesome
    10. Remote (My mom calls it the clicker. How can you call it a clicker when it doesn’t click?).

      1. I’m not THAT young. The first T.V. that I remember watching was a black and white set without a remote control. Our second set was color, but still no remote control. It wasn’t until I was 6 or so when we moved that we got a T.V. with an honest to goodness remote. Maybe it clicked, maybe not. I’m not sure. I was never allowed to touch it…

  7. “Pee-Can”…. hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll never be able to look at a Pecan Pie, or pecan for that matter in the same way!! Your facial expressions were priceless.

    Never heard of sun-shower, but I like it. I usually call it “awwwww”!

    Thanks for the giggles!

  8. Well since I’m from New Zealand, everything you said sounded funny!
    My answers would be
    1. We don’t do that, so don’t have a word for it, though most people would know what you mean as we get lots of American TV
    2. I don’t think we have that bug
    3. Fizzy drink
    4. Sneakers
    5. Hey or hello with a wave at everyone, occasionally hey guys.
    6. Daddy long legs
    7. Grandma and Grandad, Nana and Poppa
    8. Trolley
    9. Sun shower
    10. Remote, TV changer, stupid bloody thing.

    The words were similar enough apart from Pecan and Mayonnaise, I would have been making those funny faces too if you had asked me for those.

    1. Kelliefish! You have to do this! If you don’t want to do it as a Vlog, do it as a podcast! I want to hear your NZ accent! Puh-leeeeeze!

      You call the grocery cart a trolley? What do you call a trolley? The thing you would catch to take you somewhere? 😉

      1. Had to go look up what a Trolley was, turns out we call them a tram I think. But we only have 1 that I can think of and its a novelty ride at MOTAT which is a museum of old vehicles, trains and planes. We really only have buses and trains.

        I am very tempted to do one, as soon as I work out how to fix my microphone which is currently refusing to work.

  9. This is so great! I have a Midwestern accent. I would add some extra words so you could hear my inflection. You would think that after living in Colorado for 24 years that it would have subsided by now! Ask me to say “About!”

  10. Great video blog. Other than ‘pill bug’ there’s no real difference since I’m a Northerner. Having relatives East (Delaware) and South (Loosiana and Texas) along with business contacts all over the US and Canada, makes one develop a flexible interpretation of the English language. Sometimes I run into a term or pronunciation that throws me though.

    I always try to speak with (what I hope is) a neutral accent or dialect. When I stopped for breakfast in Wisconsin once, I must have really needed that first cup of coffee to get my brain going because the gals at the McDonald’s giggled at my bit of (southern?) Hoosier accent or dialect that must have slipped out. Just don’t ask me what a Hoosier accent is as it can vary dramatically from north to south.

  11. This is adorable! We say many of the things the same way. I do say soda and I called my grandparents grandmother and granddad. I also usually call the remote the flicker. I’ve never heard the New Orleans way of saying mayonnaise–interesting! 🙂

    1. “My-nez.”

      I will never forget the first time I heard it. I was sitting at lunch with a bunch of students and one of the secretaries, Gayle. She asked me to pass her the “my-nez.”

      And I said, “Well, I would love to Gayle, if I had even the vaguest clue what you were talking about.”

      She told me it was right next to the dressing.

      So I handed her what was next to the salad dressing.

      Which was the salt.

      But she meant what we northerners call “stuffing.” As in a side-dish for the turkey.

      It was hilarious. 😉

  12. Dialects and accents always fascinate me. I loved your video and pronounce most of the words you pronounce in the same way (I’m from upstate eastern NY).

    I say RA-chester, not ra-CHESTER. Here we have something called “Michigans” that are hotdogs covered in a very mildly spiced meat sause (not a chili dog). And I lived near D.C. for 6 years and darned if I didn’t bring back with me, “y’all!”

  13. So cute! Loved hearing your voice again. I say most things the same as you, being from the same area, but there are a few things to note.
    1) TP’ing, of course.
    2) Could this be a Caterpillar?
    3) I call this Soda. I know some of relatives called it ‘Pop”. But that word sounds HORRIBLE with a Rochester accent. So I went with ‘Soda’.
    4) Used to call them exclusively ‘Sneakers’. But my bestie in college was a cool Californian and she insisted they were called ‘Tennis shoes’. [Even if they weren’t used for Tennis]. I now call them ‘Running shoes’.
    5) I use ‘Everyone’ or ‘Everybody’. I hate using ‘you guys’. I love hearing ‘y’all’ and somehow think it is grammatically correct to use ‘you all’.
    6) I guess it is a ‘Daddy Long Legs’ -or Tarantula?
    7) Gramma and Grandpa or ‘Gram’
    8) Shopping Cart. I know people in MA used to call it a ‘Trolley’ or ‘Carriage’. To me, a trolley is a mode of transport like a streetcar and a carriage is something that is drawn by a horse.
    9) Definitely ‘Sun Shower’. 🙂 LOVE those.
    10) Remote..’Clicker’ 😉

  14. Also, it is very interesting how certain words change from region to region. As someone commented above, some of them are:
    Soda v. Pop or Sodapop
    Hoagie, Submarine, Grinder, Italian..all the same thing
    Water Cooler, Bubbler
    Ice Cream, Soft Serve, Frozen Custard [My CA friend was FASCINATED by Custard]
    Jimmies v. Sprinkles
    How about:
    Davenport, Couch, Sofa? Is it a Sofa or a Couch? Seriously, I would love to know the answer to this. My grandmother called it a Davenport. Not sure why.
    Jeans, Blue Jeans, DUNGAREES.

    There are probably MANY more, I just can’t think of them right now.

  15. I adore that “sure” has 2 syllables while “crayon” only has 1. You’re the most delightful mix!

    I never even realized there was another way to say “insurance!” Which may indicate my inbreeding.

    Since I posted my vlog, I’ve been admonished for not knowing that when it rains while sun is shining is known as “the devil beating his wife.” Yep. We’re cuh-ray-zee.

    1. Jamie:

      I loved listening to you. I want to be your best friend so we can go to the grocery store. I would even get “the buggy.” I don’t have to bring any coupons, do I? And then I could just sit next to you and listen to you talk. Like all day. 😉

  16. I’m from southern Canada which is not nearly the same as southern USA. And no, not from Toronto or Vancouver. There are other cities ya know. Anyway, I get a hard time whenever I say “bank” because I sort of pronounce it “benque”, This is apparently not the way to pronounce it anywhere but only in my mouth. I have never heard anyone else in my city, where I was born and raised, pronounce “bank” in this way. My daughter has now noticed and is picking apart everything I say now. There seems to be LOTS of words I do not say correctly.

    I am convinced I:
    a) have a speech impediment,
    b) I am kidnapped by aliens and they do stuff to make me talk funny or
    c) I can astral project and have another life in another dialect.

    I cannot pronounce ANYTHING without being self conscious about it. I was hoping you would say “bank” on your video and you didn’t. Now what do I do?

    Love, me xoxoxo

  17. This was awesome! I love listening to people’s accents. Most of our words would be the same. I’m a stickler for little pronunciations-like MILK never Melk, and THEUTER not THEE-AYTER. LOL. And I say bubbler for a drinking fountain. And soda! lol.

    I loved all your facial expressions in this vlog. It was too funny. Listening to you go on about a sun shower and seeing a double rainbow made me giggle, you were so excited.

    Wanna know a funny story now? I love speaking in accents and several times have fooled people into believing I’m from somewhere else. I used to practice all different dialects by reading out loud and switching accents every page to increase my vocabulary in an accent. I blame it on being much, much younger than all my siblings. Had to entertain myself somehow.

    1. “I love speaking in accents and several times have fooled people into believing I’m from somewhere else.”

      First of all, I did this growing up.
      Second of all, I do this with my son now (who thinks it is hysterical).
      Third of all, it would be so much fun to go to the mall with you and pretend we were from Russia. 😉

  18. OMG Renee! Thank you for posting this! I. Am. OBSESSED with accents!! I had no idea this blog phenomenon was occurring. I’ll have to check out Jessica’s post next.

    Also, you have a great ‘vlog’ personality – it was so fun to see! You’re right, no one around here (NY/NJ) would know what the heck “mie-nez” (mayonnaise) is!!!

      1. Wait a sec, as a teacher aren’t you supposed to discourage peer pressuring? 😉 I seriously DID try to do this, and it’s 2 minutes that no one needs to see. Even with vodka involved. A vlog post may be in my future, though. I have some ideas. (da-da-DUM. Oooooh. So ominous). That reminds me, if I start a new vlogging trend like this one, can I count on you to jump on board*?

        *no pressure

        1. Jules:

          I am a firm believer in positive peer pressure! 😉

          Vlogging is a lot harder than it looks. It gave me a new appreciation for movie icons.

          I swear I could totally be a superstar.

          You know, as long as hubby and Monkey aren’t within earshot.

          I definitely prefer writing to chatting it up, but I would do it again. Maybe. Probably.

  19. Renee, so fun to see and hear you. Your quiz about pop and tennies reminded me of my days at Boston University. I was the girl from Minnesota and everyone made fun of my accent. (in a friendly way). The best was when the Boston natives said let’s go the party and I thought they said potty. And replied that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom. Whoops. Fun stuff. Thank you for sharing this little experiment.

  20. What I want to know is what “the boy” was doing in the back ground? Because I did see you shoot him “the look” at one moment in time! LOL! You’re brave, I wouldn’t be able to get it all out without cracking up! Good for you! You look great! Are you thinking of doing Vlogs on a regular basis? ex: Vlogging Mondays? I might have to try doing one on my blog while painting, what do you think?

    1. Mary!
      The boy and his father were whispering things like: “Where do you think she keeps the pasta?”
      And then I got to hear them whisper, “I found it!”
      And then hubby was all: “Where do you think she keeps the pasta sauce?”
      And boy said, “In the refrigerator.”
      Which is usually true. But I had recently killed the pasta sauce.
      So they were searching and searching, opening cupboards and whispering,”Should we interrupt her?”
      And when I heard that I was thinking (while my mouth was moving and saying “Western New York, Western New York, Western New York” like a brain-damaged parrot): If they interrupt me, there will be blood.
      And that’s when I gave the look to which you refer.
      That was slick of you to catch it. 😉

  21. I pronounce everything the same way you do. I believe most Dictionary sites now have verbal pronouncers (click on the little speaker thingie). INsurance makes me crazy. I made my husband listen to the pronouncer on the word about fifty times. It didn’t stick, but now when he says INsurance I hum the theme to “Deliverance” until he leaves me alone. 🙂

    If I order a fizzy beverage at a drive-through restaurant, I generally ask for a diet soda. I am purposefully vague since they usually hide brand beverage names somewhere on their busy menus. I found I’m less likely to be barked at by some overwrought teen if I use this term. If I say Pepsi and the establishment carries Coke, I’m certain to vex the order taker to the point of spitting in my liquid nirvana.

    My peeps landed in Missouri after coming to America from Ireland. Some of my Aunts and Uncles used to say warsh (as in, “It’s time to warsh the clothes”). Everyone in my generation can imitate our Grandparent’s thick brogue. All of us kept a bit of the old sod in our vocabularies and we all know a bit of Irish Gaelic. I’m always told that I don’t sound as if I’m from New Mexico from people who have recently moved to New Mexico. I have no idea what they’re talking about.

    1. T:

      I love Jamie’s INsurance thing, and find it rather charming.

      Lord knows, since we have peppered our country with Wal-Marts and so many big-box stores, our regional dialects seem to be the only place where folks in the U.S. can show off a little personality.

      No go and “warsh” your clothes, “dernit.”

      1. Jaime is from Alabama and that makes EVERYTHING she says charming! 🙂 Did you notice she also speaks with her hands? I do too. It isn’t a Jewish, Irish, or other thing. It helps one to organize thoughts. I generally see it with people who speak quickly. Think of your hands as Welk’s baton. It provides order to your internal orchestra.

        Alas, I found Jaime so charming I had to subscribe to her blog. I’m beginning to think I may never sleep again. So much to read, so little time. (T shakes her fist at Renee and starts mainlining strong tea.)

        1. Renee is my first best friend and now susceptorqueen is my second best friend. We will all go to the grocery store together and push buggies around and talk with our hands.

          1. Jamie, you will love Susceptorqueen. (T writes the best comments.) And you are uber-charming. You should git some INsurance to make sure nothing happens to all that charmishness. (Whaaat? That’s not a word? I’m an English teacher. Don’t worry. It’s fine.) 😉

            I so wanna push a buggy with you. Or ride in one with you.

            Either way.

  22. This is such fun! I may have to do this as well. How did I miss this on Jess’s blog? I subscribe…must have gotten buried in the muck of my inbox.

    Can’t wait to check her post out. 🙂

  23. Love your faces for “pecan” and “mayonnaise” – I say most of these words the way you do (as opposed to Jess – sorry!) with the exception of maybe mayonnaise – which we are more likely around here to dub MAN-aise.

    If we’re being lazy. Which we usually are.

    I haven’t listened to your answers to the questions yet, but wanted to pause after the pronunciation portion to comment…

    If you are WRONG about any of the answers to the subsequent questions, I’ll let you know 😉

    p.s. I SO enjoyed watching you AND Jess do this. You are both adorable…

    1. Julie:

      This was my foray into the Vlog. You were ahead of me there. It is much harder than it looks. I think I look like a dork.

      Do you think I repeat myself this much in front of my students?

      Do you think I repeat myself this much in front of my students? 😉

      I do, don’t I?

  24. Oh Renee, you know I have to do this. This is like the Bat signal for linguists! We can’t ignore it! We must heed the signal! I would be doing the video right now, in fact, but I want to prepare a little better and not just ramble on. Plus, it’s almost 11:00 at night after a long, long day, and it just wouldn’t be nice of me to subject others to what that looks like on me 😉

    (Oh and I’ll also be talking with my hands when I’m not fidgeting with something, by the way.)

  25. I came over via Darla’s vlog and now see and hear this and it’s great (both your and hers are) I can see I’m going to be traipsing around the blogosphere watching these! And… hey… d’ya think it’s okay if an English person does one? Cos I’d love to! 🙂 (Mind you, my readers pretty much know what I look and sound like now as I vlogged just a few weeks ago for the first time!)

    Anyway your voice is great… and you’re so bubbly! 🙂

    I’d add one word… aluminium. Maybe I’ll vlog and hopefully I’ll remember that! 😉

  26. First of all, I love that you are sitting in front of the couch, rather than on it. Great blog, I’m loving seeing these around and will be doing one of my own here pretty quick!

    1. Dear PGMG:

      It’s funny that you mentioned the whole not sitting on the couch thing. I am not a furniture girl. You should see me when I grade. I sit on the floor. In fact, you may have just inspired an idea for a post. Aren’t these accent/dialect bloggies a hoot? Do one! Do one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop