Last summer at about this time, I was on my long drive across the southeast US: Left Texas and passed through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and made my way into Georgia during a long couple of days of driving. Much of the route is familiar from other dialect recording trips, but I was moving into new country, cutting across some highways toward Macon, Georgia.
Listening to Southern Accents
Along the way, it’s great to hear the variety of Southern accents when I stop to rest and fill up with gas and grub, and also just by drifting along the radio dial. Most stations have announcers who use something that approximates a more neutral American sound, but when I seek out some kind of talk radio, invariably it’s local (unless it’s the “big names” of talk radio). Most of the time I have to tune out the content to maintain my sanity, but the sounds are glorious.
Call-in shows are my favorite. Not only can I hear the sounds of the area, I get to hear the rich variety that the locals speak. Any time you try to learn an accent, especially as taught by the AccentHelp downloads or other similar materials, you’re hearing a “coming together” of the common sounds of a place (or class, or race, or nameless other influences). It’s a gathering of ideolects (a single person’s way of speaking) grouped to figure out the common indicative elements that get called an accent or a dialect. Once you get it, it’s your job to make it an ideolect again.
If I didn’t tune out the content, I might not use the term “ideolect” but, rather, something that sounds similar… I have a low tolerance for wacked-out opinions from either side of the aisle. Ideolect, indeed.