Friday, September 30, 2011

Elocution Evolution

Yesterday afternoon, I was in a meeting with someone who’s never lived outside of the Los Angeles area. She kicked it off by telling me I have a New York accent.

I don’t have a poker face. Neither did she – I saw her see that she said something she shouldn’t have.

Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. I had to stay cool.

“You think so?” I asked.

“That’s what it sounds like to me,” she said. (Remember, all she knows is L.A. It was a humid 70 degrees outside and she had been wearing a coat.)

To keep things light, and to drive home that I’m not from these parts, I let her know that my freshman hallmates made fun of me and another hallmate (who hailed from suburban Chicago) because of our Midwestern accents. They had field days with the way the Chicagoan and I used to pronounce “Kathy” and “college,” and say “pop” instead of “soda.”

She smiled politely, but wasn’t buying it. Can you blame her? She can only ever picture me talking like Renee Graziano from Mob Wives.

This is how it all begins. First, everyone insists you have the attitude. Then it starts in with the speech patterns. At the rate it's going, I’ll never make it out of here. I’m becoming re-branded.

I did this to myself. For years, I’ve been imitating the New York and New Jersey accents and mannerisms that surround me. Too many years. I’m morphing into what I’ve mocked.

2 comments:

  1. I was startled when, recently, my cousin in Indiana told me over the phone that I still have my Indiana accent. I thought my adult accent was "Middle Atlantic," sort of "without accent," that is, the non-accent required to get a job as a television anchor. Imagine my dismay upon realizing that I will never get a job as a television anchor person.

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  2. Don't worry -- you'll never have an accent as thick as a New Yorker's! I've endured constant criticism of my Yonkers accent! A communications professor said I spoke very heavy in "localisms!" Having spent four years in upstate NY for college (where the accent is much like a Midwesterner's), I got ridiculed constantly for my pronunciation of words like "walk", "faucet", "law", etc! It's the stigma that drives me nuts though. People's preconceived assumptions of New Yorkers seem to be mostly negative. We're all loud, surly, impatient, and foulmouthed - and I say that's utter bull****! *wink* :o)

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