Sounding smart or smarting from the way you sound

Here, via BoingBoing, is a fascinating video of a woman named Amy Walker introducing herself using a wide variety of accents. While most come from the British isles, two–found at 1:34 and 2:05, respectively, are American Southern accents.

With all the reporting on the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries of late, I’ve been hearing more Appalachian accents on the air. Alas, when many people hear a Southern accent–it doesn’t even have to have the mountain twang of Appalachia–they jump to the conclusion that the speaker is:

1. uneducated
2. stupid
3. racist

Of course, sometimes the speakers have all of those characteristics and more, thus perpetuating the stereotype that afflicts all of us who speak with a Southern accent. Southern comedian Jeff Foxworthy used to have a routine in which he asked why, whenever a natural disaster occurs in the South, television news reporters never interview a university professor or physician. Instead, they pick “that woman with curlers in her hair who lives in a trailer.” So it goes with political coverage these days. Sigh.

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

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