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Apr 14

Words you can’t say properly unless you’re from the South

I was listening to commercial radio this morning (I’m still mad about NPR’s Bob Edwards decision) when the DJ announced a “parking lot party” in Raleigh this weekend. He mentioned that one of my favorite local bands when I was growing up, The Connells, were playing. The only problem is that he didn’t say “Connells” correctly. He said something a little like connul (with the same emphasis that you’d use in saying Colin) when it should be con’-ells (not real phonetic symbols, obviously).

Then I thought about it some more, and realized it’s not even con’-ells, really, because that doesn’t take into account the little hesitation-drawly-thing that happens when a southerner says Connells. For some older Southerners, whose tongues are perhaps more “pure” in terms of accent than mine, you can even hear it on words like hotel“or motel (or Holiday Inn. no not really.). My grandmother, for instance, who is from Mayfield (little bit of tiny nowhere in western Kentucky), but who has lived in Charlotte most of her life, says mo’-tel and ho’-tel. (Now that I’ve typed it, it looks a little, erm, “ghetto” [can I say that? is that acceptable slang these days? Gads, listen to me, I’m an Old Woman], but when you hear it, that Southern “lilt” comes out.

In 1996 I went to France with my grandma (and 40 Queen’s College [Charlotte, not NYC] alumni). Upon returning to the states it took me three weeks to break myself of the habit of saying pho’-to, much to the amusement many of my work buddies, who hail from The North. ;-)

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2004/04/14/words-you-cant-say-properly-unless-youre-from-the-south/

2 comments

  1. mckenzee

    I always thought only southerners could curse right…

    No one else put enough syllables in sheee-it and bee-atch (not the biatch that is popular now in hip-hop, but softer and more drawn out, often as an expression of awe).

    and living in France now, I keep talking about foto-graphy.

    not sure why I bothered spell-checking this…

  2. Anonymous

    mo’ tel, ho’ tel, Holiday Inn

    “say if your girl starts actin up, then you take her friend”

    :-)

    Phil

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