My Dad has lived in the south for most of his life, so his southern accent is set in stone. Mine comes and goes – my family moved to Wisconsin when I was 12-years-old, a delicate age at which I would’ve done anything to keep from drawing attention to myself. I will never forget the way my peers reacted to the way I talked. On my first day of school, Mr. Delano wrote 53 on the board and asked the class what that meant. I raised my hand and offered “Five times five times five,” in my very North Carolinian accent. I quickly regretted my over-eager behavior when every student in the class turned to stare blankly at the foreign creature who “talked funny.” Mr. Delano smiled, set down his chalk, and said, “Now might be a good time to introduce our new student, who’s from North Carolina.” This was the first in a series of incidents which made me acutely aware of the way I talked and gradually eroded my accent. Still the moment I cross the Mason-Dixon line, talk with any family member (on the horn or in person), or get upset it comes right back. Great Ern can attest to this and always finds it amusing.
Pappy and I were just at the grocery store and the cashier immediately noticed and commented on his accent. She said she likes accents and then pondered, “Does our accent sound proper to you?” My Dad and I just grinned at one another. There’s nothing wrong with an Indiana accent but the adjective “proper” has never occurred to me as a way to describe it. If anything, an Indiana accent sounds relatively plain to me – definitely not as distinctive as the Minnesota/Wisconsin accent (for which I do an AWESOME impression.) I have noticed some Hoosiers’ accents have a bit of a country tinge – it’s not quite southern but it’s not the brogue of a Yankee either. It’s Midwestern and perfectly respectable…though I can’t deny that I prefer Southern accents, as varied as they can be, they still sound like home to me.