That Slow, Southern Drawl

It’s interesting how north Alabama’s dialect differs from that of south Alabama. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s definitely there. I’ve lived in both areas of the state. Mom is from south Alabama, and Dad is from north Alabama. When we visited my dad’s parents, we heard words like “greens” (for collard greens or collards) and ‘taters (for potatoes). North Alabama, after all, is at the foot of Appalachia. And I don’t think that I’ve ever heard a north Alabamian leave off r’s like in south Alabama.

I certainly had my twang, when I was growing up. I flattened my o’s and made my i’s into “ah’s.” When I got to university, some people thought that it was charming, but I wanted to change it. On the long, boring road from Gihon Springs to Tuscaloosa, I’d practice. I would pass a sign and work on enunciating the vowel sounds properly. I dropped the “y’all” and changed to “you guys.”

Thought I’d done a pretty good job of it until I visited Colorado Springs a few years back. “So, can you detect a southern accent?” I asked a CS native. “Ohhhhh, yes,” the woman answered.

Then there was last night.

I asked Lefty, “How’re you doing?”

He answered with a slew of things that he had done during the day.

“What?” I asked, wrinkling my nose. “I asked you how are you doing…not what are you doing. Why is it that people always start telling me what they’re doing when I ask them how they are doing???”

Lefty answered, “Well, you kind of slur the words together. It’s kind of like you say, ‘Hhh-wha’re ya doing?'”

“Oh,” I said. “Good to know.” Maybe my mid-western accent still needs some work.

By the way…how are you doing today?

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