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Wicked Wednesday-Accents

Jessie-In New Hampshire, wondering if it is too early to cheer for crocuses

This week we are celebrating Sheila’s latest book release in her County Cork series, A Turn for the Bad. One of the things I love most about Ireland is the delightful accent of the Irish people. Which got me to thinking about accents in general and which ones we admire. And even if we think we have one ourselves?

So Wickeds, what are your favorite accents? Irish? Russian? New York?

Liz: I’m a Bostonian, so I love Boston accents first and foremost. But I’m a sucker for a good English or Irish accent!

Julie: It depends on who is using the accent. 😉 English, Irish, Scottish, Italian, French. Canadian accents charm me. I suspect I have a Boston accent, but high school in Maryland may have rounded out my tones. I also love the Wicked Cozy accent. (See what I did there?)

Barb: English spoken with almost any accent will charm me, especially the accents of the far flung empire–Indian, South African, West Indian, Australian. Sometimes it’s hard, though, to believe we speak a common language. In my prior life, I had customers in Northern Ireland. When we’d adjourn to the pub after conferences or meetings, they’d talk and talk. To me it sounded like “mmff-mumph-mff-mmff-mff.” I’d grin and nod my head like an overeager beagle, terrified I was agreeing to some untenable business term. I have to admit that when I watch certain shows on BBC America or PBS, I always have the captions turned on.

Sherry: When we moved to Boston I fell in love with the accent and the way they pronounce things. I’m not too proud to admit I’d follow people around in stores to listen to their voices and ask service people to pronounce random things (like our refrigerator or refrigeratah) by pointing at them. And I’m a sucker for the British/Irish/Scottish accents. There’s a Scottish play-by-play announcer who does the Real Madrid soccer games. Not only do I love his voice but his expression — he was like a salmon swimming upstream — when a guy took in a goal.

Jessie: My husband has one so I adore Brazilian accents. I actually love it when he puts on a fake British accent.The combination is charming and very silly! The older I get the more I miss a strong Maine accent, especially from Downeast. My great-grandparents both had them and they were charming in their way. It wasn’t, of course, just the sound of the words, it was also the choice. My grandfather never said he began or started anything. Rather he said he commenced it. As in  “I commenced to fish”.  I still miss hearing him.

Edith: Oh, accents! So much to say. As a once-and-always linguist, I’ve studied this stuff. We all have national languages, regional dialects, family dialects, and our own idiolect. Your native language can shape the next language you learn, depending on how old you are. And your regional dialect can shape how you understand people from another region. I’m a southern Californian with a Hoosier father (why I say “warsh” for wash) and a native Californian mother who said “goff” for golf, and from whom I picked up that the members of the pairs cod and cawed, cot and caught, Ott and ought were pronounced the same.

In my Country Store Mysteries, police lieutenant Buck Bird speaks the classic southern Indiana way, which is really more Kentucky than Indiana. I modeled him on a fellow linguistics grad student in the late seventies named Buck. He was a local in his forties, recently retired from a twenty-year career in the army, and he was working on his BA, at last. We grad students from “away” scratched our heads trying to figure out how he pronounced his slow, relaxed speech. One of us finally came up with this: “He keeps his tongue in the bottom of his mouth.” Try it and see how it sounds! Vocabulary of the region is also delightful: “I can’t do that every whipstitch.” And, “That drawer’s all whopper-jawed.” Anybody want to guess what those mean?

Readers, is there and accent that when you hear it, it stops you in your tracks? Do you have one of your own?

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