Kentucky is not a foreign country
Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Someone started a thread today seeking out Browncoats in Kentucky. While I was rambling on in my signature (check the thread to see what I'm talking about), I was struck with the realization that I've reached a goal I subconsciously set for myself about 10 years ago - I've learned to speak without my western Kentucky accent.

Now, understand that the western Kentucky accent is far different from the eastern Kentucky accent, and I'll debate anyone who says there is an overall, skeleton-key southern accent - it doesn't exist. Each region of each southern state has its own dialect. For example, parts of eastern Kentucky don't have chili dogs - they have "hot dogs with sauce." It's still chili, but they don't call it that when you eat it on a hot dog. Funky.

Also understand that I'm not ashamed of my western Kentucky accent, and it has not been completely obliterated. When I'm drinking, sick or very tired, it creeps back into use. Otherwise, I've attained, as far as I'm concerned, an undiscernable accent.

I did this (subconsciously, remember) because, even though I had no idea what I wanted to do with my professional life, I knew I'd end up doing something that required a great deal of verbal communication, and there are people around me that even I can't understand because of their thick twang. "Twang" is not the right word there, but it's the only one I know everyone will understand. I didn't want that to be a hurdle for me. So, rather than jumping over it, I kicked it down, broke it, jumped up and down on it, then put it in a bag and started carrying it with me.

Quite the analogy, if I do say so myself.

The bag stays closed most of the time - not really by choice, though. My fear through this transformation is that my family and friends in the area might think I was ashamed of my heritage. I'm not. I love it here. It's quiet, the food's great, and I'm within a comfortable drive of several major cities (Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, etc.).

And that has connected me to Firefly in a different way. None of them really use an accent, but the language is similar to how I have spoken.

As for popular stereotypes about Kentuckians, I'll list how they apply, if at all, to me (I may repeat some of the ones in my signature on that thread):

My wife is pregnant but hates walking around in bare feet.

My house is not on wheels, and there's no place to add any to it.

My two vehicles ARE on wheels and (knock on wood) have never been on blocks. They are also all one color.

I have two dogs and one cat. That's it.

I said earlier that I only know one person that has none of their original teeth - I actually know two. One is a white trash beehotch who decided at an early age not to brush her teeth - EVER. The other had an accident. I have all my teeth - and none are black.

I ... hate ... tobacco.

I do not own, nor have I ever owned, nor WILL I ever own a Confederate Flag. Not because I think it stands for slavery, but because most everyone else does, and I don't want to be lumped in with the hicks cruising the square in their rusted-out pickups.

I do not have a genetic predisposition toward country music, mainly because what's being played on today's country stations is not country music - it's some kind of ice-pick-to-the-ears hybrid. I like Haggard, Jennings, Cash and both Hanks - that's about it. I do, however, love Bluegrass. I'm all about some banjo over here.

Bug zappers are not that entertaining to me.

I got tired of hearing "You might be a redneck if ...," "Here's your sign" and "Git er dun" after about a week of each. The rest of the stuff on the Blue Collar movies (not the show) is good - I just hate that other stuff. Regardless, I like Ron White better than any of the other three guys.

And, as far as I'm concerned, if you want a pretty accurate cinematic description of the type of towns I've lived in, watch Doc Hollywood. Underrated flick.

And I say "flick" alot because of Kevin Smith movies. Nootch.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005 2:16 PM


I'd be all over Kentuckey, except moost of my family lives there.

Thursday, May 5, 2005 3:38 AM


Lissa - I'm addicted to AKUS. Alison's voice ... mmmmmm.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 12:13 PM


Yep, and Texas isn't a foreign country either, tho' it could be I suppose. Early in highschool I dropped my accent, I had friends who weren't from my area, North TX, and had no idea I was a native. At the time there was a large influx of people from out of state who poked cruely at anyone with a Texas accent. I could never understand that.

Anyway there was a horrible side effect. When I'd visit family, one word from my mouth around them and my accent immediately returned, like a caged animal. I never said "cain't", but there were other atrocities that came out.
While in a "professional" atmosphere, I always donned my very clean clear speech. People just had no idea.

Yes any carbonated beverage is a Coke. Except for maybe Perrier! ;P

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 11:26 AM


do u like alison krauss and union station?

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 11:13 AM


I identify, just check my ident card.

Growing up in the hills of Eastern TN has not been easy...especially once you leave.

I was born in a trailer with wheels. Ran around barefoot till I had to go to school.

I moved to Atlanta, grew home sick cause I was smaller minded than most folks and felt I didn't belong. Then Firefly...brings you back to your roots, makes you wonder why when I grew up no one wanted to speak with an accent. Even now my niece makes fun of it. I am now in my mature years, wink, and I know one day she will arrive at what I found out. It's part of our heritage, of who we are and it will always be apart of our charm.

Even the old phrase. "Bless her heart." Said in a condecending tone.

I worked with a framer last year who spoke with such a heavy accent I couldn't understand him. I eventually got embarrassed and told him I didn't hear very well, in my right ear.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 7:37 AM


I wasn't meaning to make the tie-in to the accent, just the method of speech. I'm with you on that.

When I was about 10, a family from Chicago moved in across the street from us. I couldn't get past them calling Cokes "pop."

I tend to hear less of "Fair to middlin'" and more of "Tolerable" in response to "How're you doing?" - but I agree with the point you were making.

My connection to that method of speaking and the accent is that many non-southerners hear the accent before they hear what's being said, so those types of phrases don't always register with them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 6:54 AM


You know Steve, I get that a lot. My mother never really spoke with an accent, and from what I understand, my father, after he joined the Air Force at 20, worked hard to rid himself of his. Mine just kinda went away, though it still pops up from time to time. I wasn't saying in the thread that because we have accents we can understand better. I meant that southern people have a way of speaking(with or without the accent) that makes it a little easier to pick up. Phrases like "I aim to" "Fair to middlin'" "I'm liable to" crop in me from time to time...There always there, just unaccented. I even went so far as to say to a coworker one time "Look what you done gone and done!" only to be looked at like a martian.

And what about sodas? The first time I heard someone call a soft drink a "pop", I thought I knew what going mad must be like. Then a "soda", then a "Soda Pop". Hey! Where I'm from, if its carbonated...Its a COKE! See that Mountain Dew can over there...that's a coke. See that RC over there...that's a coke...See that fresca over there...that's a coke...see that coke over there...Well, you get the idea...I love Kentucky...You'd be hard pressed to find a more beautiful state anywhere. The people are nice(mostly), the food is good and the weather is mild...Kentucky Rocks...

(Don't tell anyone I said Kentucky Rocks...they'll take my card away.)


You must log in to post comments.