"Dimes on Mars is a private radio station by slobek and tomaz. We specialize in news, storys and radio magazine pieces.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What does a Southern Accent Say?

Opinion topic tonight. Southern Accents and Southern Belles

The southern states in the US retain a very specific culture. In the 19th century, this region was known for its tobacco plantations and the caste system that grew up around these estates. The “new money” enjoyed a lifestyle of extravagant European imports slowed by the warm southern climate and rural pace of life. Slave labor manned the crops, while young girls went to finishing school to learn proper manners and enter society through débutante balls and cotillions. The archetype of these young girls has somehow managed to live on well after the existence of the Old South. They are known as Southern Bells and are loosely judged to be calm gentile and hospitable, with a simple mind and a charming naiveté. The idea has retained its appeal for young men still today, who frequently call to name the ideal of this almost mythical creature. Now that gigantic dresses are gone, social etiquette out the window, and courting replaced with sex, one of the only remaining traits of a would-be Southern Belle is her accent. Slow and twangy. 

The southern accent has withstood chiding and not so tacit disrespect in the intellectual circles of the North and Midwest. A sly comment here and there says that a southern accent cannot sound intelligent. One has to wonder, why? The modern south is characterized by its people: former farm hands, working-class, the brawny Scots-Irish immigrants and their penchant for fighting and rebellion. Even though great minds have come from the south and moved to the south, the reputation has been hard to shake. Perhaps great subcultures like the Nascar racing population have carried the torch.The reputation got a nice sketch in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine. With a potpourri of ridiculous quotes, those approached for the story did not give any reason to reconsider the stereotype. Has the southern accent forever been pigeon-holed?

Weigh in.

Back to the Southern Belle, with the only thing left to identify her being her accent, what does that mean? Does it say she is less intelligent than other girls? And most importantly is that the appeal?