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Southern accent comment I find very offensive

There I was, sitting at my desk, writing away, bothering no one when my phone rang. It was Hollywood calling.

“Hey,” said a friend of ours who is a big-time movie producer. “I have you on speaker phone and the director of casting is here with me.”

Now, don’t go getting ahead of me and think they were calling to offer me a part of some kind. No, they were calling to ask about a famous friend of mine, whom they wanted to offer a part in a major movie. I was asked a question and as I began to answer, my “friend” said to me, “Now, speak where she can understand what you’re saying.” Apparently, he thought he was cute.

I fell dead silent. See, I hate people making fun of the way I talk. I happen to have a lovely, lyrical accent, and I’m proud of it. I bit my tongue, not because he didn’t deserve a good comeback but because I try to behave with gracious Southern manners when I am being introduced to someone for the first time. It’s not because I don’t have a good smart-aleck comment tucked away because I’ve got enough smart aleck in my blood to get me all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, to New York City, without even stopping to get a hamburger. Sometimes, though, good manners have to win out over revenge.

Now, remember: I was sitting in my little corner of the world all the way across the country when they called me for help. I wasn’t thinking, “Gee, I wish someone would call me up and make fun of the way I talk.” I was minding my own business, being the same sweet girl I always am.

Despite the mocking comment, I was gracious and helpful. After hanging up the phone, I made a cup of coffee, took myself to the rocker on the back porch and sat down to have a good think about what had just happened. My husband loves my accent. Why not all of Hollywood?

Why do people think it’s acceptable to comment unkindly on Southern accents? Why in this day of political correctness where every comment about people of various nationalities, religions and political views are scrutinized and reprimanded publicly, is it still viewed perfectly fine to joke about Southern accents? Where are the politically correct police who should be protecting us? Where are the advocates to spring up and protest on national television shows, “That is against what America stands for. We celebrate the diversity of accents and cultures?”

Oh, but no. There is no one to stand up and fight for us. We’re thrown to the wolves and expected to be gracious because that’s what Southerners are — gracious to the fault of letting rudeness slide by. Just like I did and like I often do.

I thought, too, about this: Never once in my entire life have I ever commented negatively on someone’s accent. I have never been introduced to someone raised in Boston or Long Island and mimicked their words back to them or said sarcastically, “Where did that accent come from?” or “Will you say that again so I can understand?”

If I have ever had difficulty understanding someone’s words, I always smile sweetly, genuinely and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand. I hear with a Southern accent.”

Making a comment about a person’s accent during an introduction is akin to saying, “This is Mary. She’s fat.” Now, if Mary is fat, the person being introduced can see that. Who would humiliate Mary by pointing that out?

Later, I explained to my friend in firm words spoken in an icy Southern accent how I felt about what had happened. He was contrite and offered a genuine apology. At heart, he is a fine and decent person.

I would tell you what I said to him but I can’t. My preacher reads this column.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of the forthcoming “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.

Comments

waltspecht 2 years, 1 month ago

While growing up we had a Fish Monger who was Welsh. He had a very strong accent. We used to go to the store just to listen to him. He started cooking meals and Dad would trade meat from the Butcher shop to him in return for feeding us on Thursday nights when Mom went to play cards. The whole neighborhood got used to going there. He was an excellent Seafood Cook and knew folks enjoyed his accent. He parlayed that into what became London Lennies on Woodhaven Blvd in Queens New York. All because folks enjoyed listening to that accent.

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Tonto 2 years, 1 month ago

Wow, what a worthless bit of whining about an unintended slight, if a slight at all. Perhaps your friend had already told this person about your "lovely, lyrical accent" and was setting the stage, perhaps it was meant to be lighthearted. Perhaps not, but I'm sure it ranks right up there with insulting your mother or killing the family pet. From your reaction it seems you may have been told to repeat yourself before and it bothers you. To compare it to being "fat" is a testiment to your mental attitude, not anyone elses`. If you are asking us to believe that a sophisticated author like yourself (Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of the forthcoming “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.”) has never heard anyone make fun of or ask for a repeat of a Chicago phrase, a Bronx utterance, New hampshire sayings or Cajun laced requests...and you think saying "you hear with a southern accent" is any different just because you couched it cutely and smiled. Sorry this is what keeps you up at night in YOUR world; it doesn't sound like the real one to me.

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Royalstar 2 years, 1 month ago

I have noticed that when someone from the south goes up north after awhile they talk with an accent. When someone from the north comes south after a while they talk normal.

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athens 2 years, 1 month ago

I reckin so. whatyagointado??

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JustAnotherVoice 2 years, 1 month ago

amen, sister! I have had numerous Yankees call me and put me on speaker phone just so my southern accent can be broadcast for all to hear. If I know that is what they are doing, I pour it on Thick and SLOWer than ever!

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FryarTuk 2 years, 1 month ago

I always accentuate the southern drawl in hopes of further attention. It rarely fails.

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Jimboob 2 years, 1 month ago

So my company bought a machine from a company in the Boston area and sent me up there to school. When we were landing Logan Airport the guy in the next seat told me, "You should take your wristwatch and turn it back... 100 years" I though i was funny. While I was looking for my hotel I stopped at a gas station and ask "How do you get to Peabody" The kid said just a minute, went inside and came back with another guy. He said "Say it again for him." Seems you don't say things the way they are spelled up there.

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