Kurt’s thoughtful comment on my last post about language confusion reminded me of two things. One: that the South is awesome in its own ways and I miss it (Kansas is closer, but has the Midwest thing as well), and two: American English also has many facets when it comes to accents and dialects. I think it’s not nearly as varied and fractured as Chinese can be, and I don’t really switch between anything when it comes to English beyond my own drawl deepening when I spend time in certain places, but still fascinating.

Growing up in Virginia Beach exposed me to tons of accents, as it’s a military-heavy town and we get people from everywhere coming in and out. Our high school prom queen was from Guam and showed us how to hula! The accents you tended to hear most were Filipino/Filipino-American (seriously – it’s why I say it “pee-lee-pee-noh”), slightly-Southern, a special blend of beach with its funny diphthong-ed o’s and drawl (which is what I generally sound like1), and sometimes this super special, extremely regional accent known as the Tidewater accent.

When I was a kid, I thought that the Tidewater accent sounded like the South + Canada. I still kind of do, although having met more Canadians now, I know that it’s not quite the same. I don’t have a real way to describe it beyond the usual “house/hoose” thing, so I think this video will help (sorry, embedding is disabled): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RzVKCWXrRA

Makes me feel at home! I have a feeling that this accent is dying out. Makes me want to get together with my dad’s old church group leader (grew up Southern Baptist, y’all, no joke) and just record him talking so that there’s more record of it existing. Anybody else ever heard it?

  1. I tend to lean more neutral, probably because I did live in Manhattan until I was five and learned English from things like the radio and books on tape rather than my parents, but the drawl does show.

Leave a Reply