Farewell to the Accent
…or There Goes the Drawl, Y’all
By Michael Andrew Grissom
A humorous look at a serious problem…
As an observer of Southern culture for many years, Michael Andrew Grissom presents the reader with a picture of the peculiar manner of speaking that was once somewhat standard throughout the Old South. In fact, until about two decades after television became a prominent feature of the modern Southern living room, the Southern brogue remained virtually intact. As the turbulent ’60’s faded into the culture vacuum of the ’70’s, the familiar Southern accent — to which American was delightfully accustomed — became one of the initial casualties of a move toward cultural regimentation.
It eventually became impossible to land a speaking job with a major television or radio station unless one was willing to undergo training to divest himself of his Southern brogue. Northern writers and college professors attacked the accent as a manifestation of ignorance and eventually Southern commercial interest took up the drum beat, further reinforcing the erroneous notion that Southerners spoke with substandard English.
Even though the humor of the “Southern dictionary,” with which this small book opens, entertains for the moment, Grissom accurately points out that the South’s younger generation, among whom virtually no trace of an accent can be found, is already unable to relate to most of these humorous phrases and definitions. As each generation drops more and more of its native inflection, the questions arises: Can it be reclaimed –and, if so, what will it take? One thing is certain: Whether we preserve or completely lose the brogue, the readers of Farewell to the Accent will go away acutely aware of the depth of the problem.
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