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Rural accent stereotypes

Joe Iliff

Reformed City Planner
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1,441
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28
I heard a radio program last night with two linguists discussing a study they recently completed on regional accents, and the views of impression, more enjoyable to hear) to a rural accent by most people. One of the linguits commented that people told her they prefered her the public associated with them. One of the interesting findings was a distinct and nearly universal perception that an urban accent was preferable (ie: gave the more favorable "Dallas" accent to a regular "Texas" accent, which was associated with a rural lifestyle.

I'm curious if other people have had the same kind of experience. Do "urban" accents and speech patterns give a better impression? Are there areas or situations where "rural" accents and patterns are prefered over "urban" ones?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
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17,333
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53
I've noticed that there's two accents in the Colorado Front Range area -- the generic American "Midland Northern" accent of newscasters and voiceover specialists, and what I call the "horsey" accent, a no-nonsense Western drawl where someone talks without moving their mouth or lips. I've also heard it called the "ag-cent."

I do think the accent is more subcultural than regional, though, because you do hear city folk talking that way -- just city folks who are still very "country" in their outlook. I call it the "horsey" accent because, in urban areas, the people that speak that way still tend to have or desire a semi-rural lifestyle -- they've got the five acre equestrian lot that's the "holdout" among the subdivisions that surround them, for instance. When they thinks "outdoors," they're thinking horses, not rock climbing or skiing. Go to the Western National Stock Show here in January, and you won't see any mouths open up or lips moving when people are speaking.

When people in Denver hear the "horsey" accent, they increasingly think "hick." Denver, a city that is really very cosmopolitan and affluent, is _very_ self-conscious about its old "cowtown" image, so the "horsey" accent seems to be shunned upon. A "horsey" accent is from the old Denver, a rough-and-tumble town of oilmen, miners and horsemen.

When I worked for semi-rural Larimer County (Fort Collins), you heard a lot of "horsey accents" among visitors to the planning office. Unlike the planners for the city of Fort Collins, who wore button-down shirts and ties, the county planners dressed very casually, but not preppy -- jeans and boots were the norm. Part of it was so that we didn't look like "city folk," and thus intimidate or alienate the many practitioners of the "rural lifestyle" who frequented our office.

(Strangely, in Buffalo, New York, many news announcers and voice talent have a harsh "flat-a" accent. If you're familiar with a Buffalo accent, you know that the flat-a and its inherent screechiness can break windows and burst eardrums like no other regional accent. Buffalonians are also blissfully unaware of their accent, unlike those from Noo Yawk or Baahstin.)
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
In terms of planning, I don't think "rural/urban" accent is part of the picture. Proper grammer is a difference that is noted, not to say we should condescend to poor english when in a rural setting. I think clothing is more important as Dan mentioned. A button down shirt and tie with a leather brief case will not win you any points at a meeting with feed lot operators; while muddy boots are not appropos with urbane "professionals." Now fast-pitched New York City vs. deep south syrupy drawl have their specific places.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
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33
Reviving a dead thread

Just for the fun of it!

You can definitely tell urban from rural dialects around these parts. Speed of conversation is also different.
 

Richmond Jake

Cyburbian
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18,256
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42
One of the common language traits in this region is abundance of sentences that end in prepositions. I shouldn't let it annoy me but it does....
 

H

Cyburbian
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2,850
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24
Yall aint right wit tis tread.

Ci-burb-ya is goin’ dern tha terlet….
 
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27
I would say that in the case of New York, most people vastly prefer the upstate accent to that of the typical city/Long Island/New Jersey. ie: Wooa-tah (water) doo-awg (dog)

I can't tell you how many times I heard, when living in the South, "But you don't have that awful New York accent!"
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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2,550
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24
If any of you ever get to hear comedian David Cross' "Shut Up You F----g Baby" there is a segment where he talks about accents and he makes the keen observation that the "hick" accent is spoken around the country. No matter where you go in the US of A, all rednecks and hicks talk the same.

If I feel motivated this evening, maybe I will post a .wav clip
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
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13,853
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38
Downtown said:
I would say that in the case of New York, most people vastly prefer the upstate accent to that of the typical city/Long Island/New Jersey. ie: Wooa-tah (water) doo-awg (dog)

I can't tell you how many times I heard, when living in the South, "But you don't have that awful New York accent!"
As a life-long southerner, I can definitely say I would prefer listening to a redneck with 2 teeth and a mouthful of chewing tobacco than the afore-mentioned NYC/NJ/LI accent.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Moderator
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12,316
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38
I am particularly fond of the Chicago accent. I think its an interesting mix of Italian, Irish, and Polish accents.

My experience with a Buffalo accent is from my dad's side of the family. He grew up in the polish ethnic neighborhood of Polonia. I hear it in my dad's family. The over-emphasis of the "g" when using "ing" is a linguistic product of working class, urban poles. My paternal grandmother, my dad's cousin, my mother-in-law and my college roommate's native polish mother and aunt all had this trait.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
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3,904
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25
Zoning Goddess said:
As a life-long southerner, I can definitely say I would prefer listening to a redneck with 2 teeth and a mouthful of chewing tobacco than the afore-mentioned NYC/NJ/LI accent.
True that. I would much rather hear a southern accent over the more "grating" northeastern ones. Now that I'm living here however, I've gotten used to the "Yunzer" dialect and accent of Western PA.

I still find it a little amusing when people here ask me to repeat what I've said to them, especially over the phone. I don't even think my drawl is that thick.
 
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27
biscuit said:

I still find it a little amusing when people here ask me to repeat what I've said to them, especially over the phone. I don't even think my drawl is that thick.
After three years in rural SC, after moving back to NY I had to sometimes ask people on the phone to slow down because I really couldn't understand what the hell they were trying to say so fast.
 
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