19 June 2011

I Can't Understand You!

     I was listening to a morning radio show on the way in to work today, in which the host was complaining that no one could get her name right. Her name was Jennifer, but she introduced herself as "Jen." However, everyone "here in the south" thought her name was "Jan" - and she couldn't understand why.  I wanted to call in and say, "They think you're saying Jan because it sounds like you're saying Jan." She was complaining about southern accents, but for me, it was her accent that was getting in the way. Discussing this conversation with co-workers (from New York), they thought I was saying "Gin" when I said "Jen" and I heard "Jan" when they said "Jen." No one could understand what anyone else was saying!

Hart County     This is a modern day example of issues concerning accents that genealogists must always keep in mind. Many times examples are found in the form of immigrants speaking foreign languages. However, I've run across instances of this in my research a few times, in which I can see where a southern accent has been miss-understood.

     For example: a (very) distant relative from Marietta, GA who moved up north. I found a record that listed his birthplace as Mayretta, GA.  Locally, Marietta (officially pronounced Mary-etta) might be pronounced as May-retta by someone with a strong southern or "country" accent.

     My paternal grandmother had such an accent. She pronounced the name 'Mary' as 'May-re' (long 'a'). I'm sure that some of the listing in census records for 'Mayre' are actually 'Mary'. Her own name was Sarah, which is often pronounced 'Say-ra' in the south. I've found a few of those in records as well. It's my sister's name too and she likes to say she knows when she's out in the country by how they pronounce her name.

     By the way, if you want to pronounce Valerie in a southern style, you can say 'Val-re' or even 'Vow-re.'


Carol said...

Been there, done that.


or another spelling



*GeorgiaTim said...

This is so true! My grandmother talked like that, and numerous others I've know over the years. I've been "in exile" myself for over 20 years, living up in Wisconsin. A friend once asked how we could tell the difference between "pen" and "pin", since they sound the same when I pronounce them. We always knew that if there was the possibility of confusion you said "ink pen" or "straight pin". Of course, to my grandmother they were both pronounced "pee-un"!

Ruby Craft said...

I remember the first time you came home from school asking me what do you call that thing on my arm that tells time. Seems some of the kids at school thought it was funny how you said watch, which quickly turned into a conversation of why I taught you to say water in such a funny way. I personally find no problem with the way I say Watch and Water, but some people seem to hear wah-urch and wah-tur. Don't get me started on over yonder. I have actually had to show people that one in the dictionary. Yes it is there.


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