How to talk with Southern Accent

Big Sam   Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:35 pm GMT
This may be helpful if you want to speak with southern accent:

Step 1
Buy a book or CD on the market if you want an elaborate education in the southern accent. Otherwise, just interchanging a few of your daily words with southern choices or understanding how to draw out some syllables will get you there.

Step 2
Use "y'all" every chance you get. This is appropriate in referring to a single person or a group of people. Never say "going to" again but insert "fixin to" and you will already seem like a pro.

Step 3
Stop differentiating the "e" and the "i" in a word. If you're doing it right, then someone should wonder whether you're wanting to sew or write when you ask for a "pen."

Step 4
Take words and add some syllables. "Why" should be "waa" and then "eye." The word "nail" should be "nay" and then "eel."

Step 5
Take two syllable words and shorten them to one, like change the "tar" (tire) on the car.

Step 6
Perfect a small vocabulary. Purdy, reckon, awfullest, gol darned, critter and breetches, and tarnation are all a good place to start.
Whoa   Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:51 pm GMT
I'm from the south... and nobody talks anything even remotely like that.
K. T. (Southerner?)   Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:18 pm GMT
There are several "Southern" accents in the USA, not just some generic hillbilly accent. What county in what state are you trying to imitate?

I say "y'all". This is common. I don't say "fixin' to" because that's more of a country expression. "I'm fixin' to make supper." is something a lady in her sixties or seventies might say to her husband. If he were from the big city he would reply, "Why? Did you break it?" I hope you get the joke. Laura Braun doesn't understand when I am joking and when I am not, apparently. So, y'all, this here is a joke alert.

Step 3: Yes, a lot of people don't differentiate between these vowels, and no, I don't like that fact. I don't know what my neighbour's daughter's name is for sure because I don't know what dang vowel he is saying. On the other hand, he probably knows the difference between "Dawn" and "Don". What is that? Maybe it's that cot-caught thing.

There is some dang rule about syllabification, but I forget what it is.
"Jewish" becomes "Joosh" for some people, but "Jew" becomes a two or three syllable word. I'm not kidding, much. That may be a Texas thing.
Do you have any idea how MANY Southern states there are? It's not like Nashville, Atlanta, or Richmond is our capital and we don't have a board to designate exactly (or 'zackly) how to speak. Now don't you go turning this into some hate rant because I mentioned "Jewish" here. This here is a forum about languages, that's all.

Fire is "Fahr", that much I know.

"Step 6
Perfect a small vocabulary. Purdy, reckon, awfullest, gol darned, critter and breetches, and tarnation are all a good place to start. "

I don't say "purdy". I know an AA woman who was NOT pleased when her little daughter started saying this. Yeah, some say "awfullest", don't you? I've never heard "gol darned", but "critter"- sure, my professor even used this word to get our attention. Dialect is powerful. Yes, I say "reckon" and I think they say it in Australia too-SO THERE!

I don't say "breetches", but there ain't nary a woman who wouldn't use it in a language emergency. "Young'un, get yer britches on. What if there's a fahr and you have t' run out in the cold?"

I don't say "tarnation" much neither (so to speak), but I understand it.

So there. Usually I write in standard English-mostly to impress y'all, I guess. Of course, seeing as y'all like Damian's colourful speechifying here, maybe I should pounce on y'all with more dialect.
CID   Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:45 pm GMT
1). Why would you want to speak in a Southern accent?

2). Even in the South, people that talk like that are made fun of. Those are hick or redneck accents.
Danny   Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:45 pm GMT
Bush   Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:18 pm GMT
<<Those are hick or redneck accents>>

What's wrong with being a redneck?
K. T.   Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:37 pm GMT
Not all Southern accents are "hick" accents, some are quite genteel, almost courtly. Of course, if someone is learning English overseas, he or she would do well to have some sort of standard accent.
Uriel   Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:49 am GMT
Danny, seriously -- go visit a bathhouse already, and get it out of your system. I recommend lots of lube and some happy thoughts, if it's going to be your first time.

K.T. is right, southern accents run the spectrum between dirt poor to almost aristocratic.
K. T.   Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:00 am GMT
Go talk to a physician who has seen it all. The thrill and aftermath of all kinds of activity often ends up badly. Or talk to your counselor at school.


If you like English or languages, join in the discussion, Danny, instead of playing Bart Simpson.

Btw, I don't usually write in dialect. I'm not a playwright. I don't write in standard English to impress anyone either. In my city, there is a lot of diversity in speech. You can hear foreign accents, transplants, and most interesting-to me- is the accent of children compared to the accent of their parents. Mom and Dad in their forties and fifties have a country accent, but the kids have accents that are so muted, only a trace of the country is there.
Caspian   Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:48 am GMT
<< go visit a bathhouse already >>

Please could you explain the meaning of 'already' here? I'm a native English speaker, and I have NO idea what it means. Already is like 'yet', isn't it? When you're saying something that's already been done...

Oh, and we say reckon in England too. I think it's standard, isn't it?
"What's wrong with her?"
"I reckon she's split up with her boyfriend."
Rene   Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:11 pm GMT
Caspian- "OED Already 3. N. American colloquial, used at the end of a phrase or sentence as an intensive, often to express impatience. Influenced by Yiddish use 'That's enough already'." Hope that helps, it's kind of difficult to explain and I didn't even realize it was a usage specific to N. America.

"Reckon" is a deadly word. I recall a time about a year ago when I was OD'ing on British TV and it slipped into myi vocabulary. I asked someone, "Do you reckon that 2X4 going to be long enough to serve as a joist?"

Gah! Still trying to live that one down.
Kelly   Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:53 pm GMT
"Why" should be "waa"

Not really, most Southern accents are Wales ~ whales unmerged:

why [hwa(e)]
Blanc   Wed Oct 14, 2009 6:00 pm GMT
I like Molly Bancroft, she's from Atlanta, her accent is awesome:

Obviously, she is cot/caught merged and has [A] in ''all, mall, Doll, Moll''
Caspian   Wed Oct 14, 2009 6:46 pm GMT
Rene, thanks for your explanation! I've always been confused when Americans use that.

<< Not really, most Southern accents are Wales ~ whales unmerged >>

Is it possible to pronounce these two words differently?
Jasper   Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:01 pm GMT

Step 2 simply isn't accurate. "Y'all" means "you all", and is NEVER referring to an individual. It ALWAYS refers to a group of people, even when speaking to one person. Example:

Suzie-Q says to Jimmy Joe: "I can't figure out why y'all still support Bush." She is not referring to Jimmy Joe supporting Bush, she's referring to all of Jimmy Joe's fellow Republicans—a group. I believe it is this kind of usage that confuses non-natives.

If you use "y'all" incorrectly, it's a dead giveaway that you're not a native—a dead giveaway, no matter how good your accent seems to be.

Disclaimer: there might be tiny pockets of singular "y'all" usage; I've not been all over the South.