Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

What accent? ME?
No, you have the accent.

Have you ever noticed that those of us from here—the southern part of the United States—are often told by strangers that they love our accent?

When I worked as a high school counselor I registered a lot of children from many places. Almost all of them told me they loved my accent.

Y’all, if we are from here, we DON’T have an accent. They do. They are from off somewhere else.

Granted the way we speak in North Georgia is different from South Georgia. The Atlanta metropolitan area is rapidly losing that pronounced southern drawl because of all the newcomers.

Listen to the speed of our language. The closer to Atlanta, the faster it is. Go down to the most southern areas and there is still a drawl. Of course, now you have to find someone who is actually born and raised in those territories. I blame air conditioning for all the new transplants.

In some places, they think “Y’all” is an abomination and make fun of us. Y’all is a much more gentle way of say “Youse guys.” “HI” is a harder form of “Hey”. Doesn’t “Hey Y’all” sound a lot nicer greeting than “Hi, Youse guys?” Personally, I prefer the slower, softened approach. It just sounds more gracious.

Mama was from Eastman, Georgia. That is in the hotter part of the state in South Georgia. You may notice that the hotter the territory the slower homegrown folks speak. Sometimes we drop letters like g. It is hot. It takes effort to talk and it can be the drawl was drawn out so long that the softer letters at the end of word just fell off.

Daddy’s mother was from Rome, Georgia. His daddy grew up in Atlan-ta. They were born in the late 1880 and early 1990. There wasn’t as much migration from other parts of the United States to Georgia. Their language patterns were still pure from their birth zone. Daddy grew up in Atlanta.

I was born and raised in Atlanta with a blend of southern drawl and a crisper Atlanta speech pattern. I am a blend of the two, with a little more southern honey poured on top. I owe that honey to Rosa Cofield. Rosie helped raise me. She was the most delightful person. She was originally from the coastal South Carolina area. She met her husband Oliver during World War II and moved to Atlanta after he was released from service. He was shot to hell and back. He came home and Rosie saved him physically and emotionally. She nursed and raised him back to a more healthy man.

So I am a little bit Coastal South Carolina, a lot Atlanta, but mostly South Georgia. Now, that is not an accent. That is from being brought up in the South. Think about the influences on your speech and the words you choose. If Rosie could say something in three words she used seven. I find that I do that, too. Concise is a word I am going do one day. But it is going to take me some time to get there.

So what’s your blend? Think about it. Who do you sound the most like? Are you a blend or are you more one parent than another? Does your cousin who was reared somewhere else sound like you or one of your parents?

The next time someone tells you they love your accent, just smile. They are from off somewhere else and they don’t know. We’re from here. We have no accent. They do. Just welcome them in your most gracious southern manner and let them know they are as close heaven as they are going get for a while. We hope.

Bye, y’all.