Lately I've been researching Southern Appalachian speech and have been reinfusing my brain with the words and phrases I used to hear so often growing up.
I'll admit, when I was younger, I probably spoke with a more colorful accent. But public education neutralized my vocabulary, and living abroad and learning new languages killed my tendency to throw in a dipthong every time I used a vowel. I had to lose my mountain accent so my English could be understood better by non-native speakers.
It is still possible to pinpoint that I'm a mountain girl though, if you listen closely enough.
Tom says that I speak fairly accent-less English. Being from New Jersey, he can barely understand the South Carolina locals, but it sounds perfectly normal to me. But then again, Tom does laugh at my pronunciation of dah-awg (he says dough-g). :-) And he has noticed that the more I become impassioned, the more my words shift into "twang-mode".
But he says he doesn't hear my accent often, which makes me sad now that I think about it. It's a long, lost friend that I miss but can't connect with anymore.
I really didn't realize how much of my speech I had lost(the final death knell was probably living with him--you can only get so many curious looks from your husband before you automatically revert to expressions he'll understand) until I read him a list of (completely familiar to me) Appalachian phrases I'd found on the internet and asked him if he'd ever heard me use any of them. He had not.
I'm convinced he hasn't been paying attention.
That, or I automatically don't use those expressions with him, but do use them around people I know will understand them.
For example, I'm pretty sure that I say, "They went to Greenville or Spartanburg one" fairly regularly.
I tell people "how the hogs ate the cabbage."
I'm frequently fixin' to do something.
I refer to dinner as supper. I crack the window. I've been known to say "I'll be back directly," "nekkid as a jaybird," "chewed up and spit out," "something the cat drug in," and "mean as a skunk."
And I know what "he's so bowlegged, he couldn't hem up a hog in a ditch" means. (When I said that one, Tom looked at me like I was speaking Greek.)
I know my South Carolina friends understand me perfectly, even though they don't speak exactly like I do. Until I moved down here, I didn't hear "ya'll" nearly as often as I heard "you'uns" and I'll admit, even after six years here, I frequently feel unsettled by South Carolina's gentile southern drawl. Like the gentle hills of the upstate, it is a fluid and rolling type of speech. I miss rugged, craggy mountain talk. Which is another reason I don't often let fly with a twang or two. It would make the 50 some-odd miles between here and Asheville feel more like 500, and I have a hard enough time fitting in here as it is. I mean, you can't even get hushpuppies with your barbeque here. You get a slice of white bread.
If that's not a metaphor for the differences between me and the non-mountain world, I don't know what is.