I've been reading some very well done Southern blogs today, which made me stop and think about my own heavy Southern drawl. I've lived my whole life in Alabama, so I really do talk with lots of extra syllables, plus I leave the endings off of lots of words. And I've been known to use a few colloquial terms like "fixin' to."
This caused me no end of problems as a child.
Every summer I went to visit my grandmother and granddaddy in Chicago for several weeks. My grandmother would take it on herself to try to teach me to speak correctly. The harder she tried to get me to put the -ing on words, the harder I tried not to. Yes, I was a stubborn, independent child. But I played with the boy downstairs every day (he had nicknamed me Missippi), and all my relatives were longtime Chicago residents.
Children are such sponges when it comes to learning that by the time I came home, the kids in my block would always tease me and call me Yankee! Even though I had stubbornly held onto the shortened end of -ing words, I had sped up my speech considerably and changed the pronunciation of some other words. Usually by the time school started, I'd be back to my normal drawling self, and glad of it.
When I took courses at the University of Montevallo in central Alabama, to become certified to teach Elementary School, I had to take a basic Voice and Diction class. I think you can see where this is headed. For nine weeks one summer, my family had to put up with me walking around the house enunciating every word as if I were auditioning for a news anchor's job. For nine long, excruciating weeks I didn't drawl, or drop a single ending, if I could help it. As soon as I finished that class ... well 'nuf said.
nostalgia, childhood memories, Southern drawl, diction, speech