I am a native of Charleston, South Carolina who is well-versed with the variety of Southern accents out there.
Living in the South
The Southern Accent
Living in South Carolina my entire life, I have always been surrounded by the Southern accent and the slow Southern drawl. The accent changes from Southern state to Southern state, and even city to city. I have a Charleston accent, which is actually quite different from the traditional Southern accent. Many people ask where I am from, because it does not quite match the general South Carolina accent.
As distinct as the British accent, the Southern accent means different things to different people. Some embrace the slow and friendly drawl, while others make fun of it. If you are not that familiar with the Southern accent and find yourself visiting or moving to a Southern state, you may need this guide to translate and understand what is being said. No, it is not a separate language, but there is a noticeable accent, and we have different terms and sayings as well.
Where Does the Southern Accent Come From?
The development of the Southern accent occurred over hundreds of years and had many contributing factors to its spread, most notably immigration and slavery. The main origin of the accent comes from British immigrants. The older Southern American accent, which became less prominent following the Civil War, had stronger similarities to the British accents of Northern England. Over the years, the Cockney accent became less prominent and the influence of Creole language from slaves became more prominent.
The Southern Drawl
The first noticeable thing about the way a Southerner talks is the speed. Southerners are typically more laid back and that is reflected in the speech which has drawn-out vowel sounds. You will also notice words that run together like gonna (going to) and lem-me (let me). No, we are not "slow" or "backwards," but we usually take our time and enjoy life. Some find the Southern drawl irresistible. Think of Matthew McConaughey in the movie A Time to Kill.
Growing up, we had friends that moved to England for a year. When the girls first arrived at school, their new classmates would beg them to talk and then just squeal in delight over their Southern drawl and accent. Then there are others that assume a person with a Southern drawl is lazy and even ignorant—that is until they actually meet a real Southerner!
What Is a Southern Twang?
A twang is quite distinctive from a drawl. The drawl, which is more common in the Deep South, tends to drop the "R" sound and sounds softer to the ear as syllables are drawn out. The twang, which is more common as you head further north and west, is more faster and sharper to the ear. The twang can sound almost nasally and the "R" sound is more pronounced.
The US South
Southerners don't say I or eye the way you do. It is more of an aah with a short "a" sound. We also say mah for the word my, also with the short "a." So, for example, you may hear "Aah have an aah-lash in mah aah" (I have an eyelash in my eye).
The word get does not rhyme with yet here in the South. We say it like git. There is a common rhyme teachers use at school when students complain about not getting their first choice. In the North, you might say: "You get what you get, so don't be upset." But that does not rhyme for us. We say "You git what you git, so don't throw a fit." Pretty interesting, huh?
Southerners with a heavy country accent don't say tire like you do. It is more of a taar—that being one syllable instead of two. So you may hear "Lordy be, Aah've got a flat taar." (Oh no, I have a flat tire.) Or it may be, "Lem-me put mah feet up - Aah'm taard." (Let me put my feet up - I'm tired.) Fire follows the same rule and is pronounced faar.
The word can't in many small towns here actually rhymes with paint. Hmmm...maybe that is where ain't came from. Likewise, again is pronounced the way it looks, and rhymes with rain. The preposition on is pronounced own. So, you may hear something like "Aah caint put own mah bray-own shoes ah-gain" (I can't put on my brown shoes again.)
What Is a Rhotic Accent?
Rhoticity in English refers to sounding out the "R" at the end of words and syllables. Some accents, like British English and Boston accents, are non-rhotic accents. Compare sounding out the "R" in the word "car" in a General American accent (cahrrr) as opposed to saying it in a non-rhotic accent (cah).
The mid-18th century saw wealthy British people start dropping the "R" from their speech. This one done to label themselves as part of upper society. This non-rhotic accent carried over to America; it can still be heard in Boston and New York accents.
The Southern accent originally lacked the "R" sound; this was a trait carried over from England. Rhoticity has entered into the accent over the years as the Southern accent has receded.
Translating Southern Pronunciations
|Southern Pronunciation||Translation||Used in a sentence|
Say grace be-fo-ah you ate.
Have we met be-fo-wah?
Aah caint fit into this wed-din dray-ess, Mama!
You look lac a wet dawg.
Mama and Diddy sayd so!
Diddy's drive'n the faar-truck.
He's such a swate fellah.
four or for
One, two, thray, fo-wah
Git your boots off the table!
Aah'm gonna git you, Bubba!
Aah lak your pick-up truck.
Aah'm gonna mare you one day, swate pay.
Come own, girl!
Ate your grayn pays, swatie.
He looks lac a ray-ed neck.
Cuz I sayd so.
You best go back to scole.
Aw, that baby possum's so swate.
Mah truck has a flat taar.
Y'all come back now!
Give meh that yellah mustard for mah dawg.
Southern Terms and Sayings
The most famous Southern expression is y'all, which is an abbreviation for you all. The greeting Hey means Hello. A true Southerner would never ever say "Hello, you all" or "Hi, you guys." But, very often, you will hear "Hey, y'all." These are some other common Southern terms and sayings:
- just pickin: teasing - Aw, come own now, Aah'm just pickin wid ya.
- pitch a fit: complain - Don't pitch a fit about that dray-ess.
- now: We throw that word in anywhere - Hey, now; Run along now; Now don't you git sassy with meh.
- cut the light off: turn out the light - Cut the light off, Sugah.
- fixin: getting ready to do something - Aah'm fixin to change that taar.
- reckon: to figure or think - Aah reckon we kin make it in time.
Different Types of Southern Accents
The American South is a large area that features many different dialects of the Southern accent. Here are a few different types of Southern accents out there.
- Coastal/Lowland Southern English: This can be thought of as the classic Southern accent. It is the kind that you often hear in various media like films and TV. It features non-rhotic speech, gliding vowels, and elongated pronunciation of vowels.
- Inland/Mountain Southern English: This is the dialect often heard from people living in areas like Appalachia, Texas, and Tennessee. A common trait is words ending in im, en, or em sounding more like in (Ben would sound more like Bin). Long "O" sounds are also usually fronted more (goose can sound more like gus).
- New Orleans English: This dialect is exclusive to the city of New Orleans. The accent developed from the mixture of French as well as the Creole language that was predominant in Louisiana. Traits of the accent include the lowering and rounding of "A" and "O" sounds and the loss of rhoticity in words ending in T.
Charleston, South Carolina
Gullah Children's Story as told by Louise Miller Cohen
The Charleston Southern Accent
Natives from Charleston, South Carolina have a unique Southern accent, and not so much the slow drawl of our neighbors. Our accent was affected by the local African-American Gullah dialect, as well as different European influences. We seem to avoid final and middle "r" sounds, so the name of our city is pronounced Chaahs-tun. Other words you may hear are:
- riv-ah - river
- ow-wah - our
- pow-ah - power
- few-cha - future
- hee-yah - here
- ovah - over
The pronunciation of house is strange. It is not quite hass, but more like hahss. So, you may hear "Now y'all come on ovah hee-yah to owwah rivah hahss for drinks" (Now you guys come on over here to our river house for drinks.) Even this particular accent has variation. There are some Charlestonians that clip their words a bit, so house is more like huss.
Charlestonians do not use Southern expressions like just pickin, though we do use the famous y'all. We don't say taar or faar, either, for tire and fire. It would be fair to say that the Charleston accent is less "country" sounding. There is very little, if any, twang, but definitely a different pronunciation of some words.
Sadly, the charming Charleston accent seems to be dying out. My grandmother spoke with a heavy accent, and my mother has some traces. My accent contains only hints, and my children even less.
Finding the Southern Accent
If you travel the South, you will notice some areas with a very strong twang, while others are less noticeable. In bigger cities like Charleston and Atlanta, you may not consistently hear the accent, because so many people from other places live there now. The stronger Southern accents are more widespread in the smaller towns and communities.
chester on August 13, 2020:
i really appreciate about the southern accent
Dixie on July 24, 2020:
Is there a vid I can watch that is not on YouTube on how to do it
ConJe01 on June 20, 2020:
Some of the info is spot-on. However, most of it sounds like how someone who lived in a holler many years ago would speak, or as we are depicted in a scene from The Beverly Hillbillies. Most everyone I've ever known has never made two syllables out of one syllable words. I am guilty of combining two words into one and making ch sounds in words with ture. I've never heard anyone replace the oo sound with uh. My sister (SC) has always used the arr sounds, along with enunciating the long I, but diminishing the end of the word.
I get a kick out of hearing people mispronoucing words. I've had several friends, in their failed attempt to sound a little more intelligent than the person they're gossiping about, say things such as, "They don't know no better. They ignant (ignorant)." Think about it. You'll get it, bless your heart.
B'tina on June 15, 2020:
What is hyphen". I am reading the autobiography of Jane Pittman I can not understand what the word is
JD on May 25, 2020:
Ddave is absolutely incorrect. Texas is not a southern state. It’s Texas, it’s its own thing.
Nick in Vietnam on May 10, 2020:
Day-um child, don chou know better than ta gitch yo ass caught by the po-lece?
ddave on April 29, 2020:
TEXAS IS ABSOLUTELY A SOUTHERN STATE!
END OF DISCUSSION....
Marcy Bialeschki from Cerro Gordo, IL on April 26, 2020:
I found this article fascinating. It made me think of actors who have to study accents to play parts like you mentioned Matthew McConaughey. Your chart was so cool, too. I really enjoyed this article.
Reyna on April 11, 2020:
Most interestingly, is that I thought I had 0 traces of Southern accent, however I do say a number of these phrases and pronounciations. I guess I do have more of a Southern accent (or at least influence) than I thought that I did.
Liky on April 02, 2020:
I get teased all the time and people use to have me say words because i was different i moved from virgina to Michigan
R Fulcher on March 27, 2020:
I was born in Tampa Florida in the early 50’s and moved to Maine in the 60’s against my wishes and have been teased all my life because of my southern drawl. I’ve been fortunate to travel as a truck driver and occasionally manage to get below the Mason Dixon line around real down to earth people. Although there are some good Yankees one being my wife most are generally rude jerks who need to learn how to be polite and relax a little
W. Griffin on March 02, 2020:
Love how some of these people wanna claim Texas ain't part of the the South. Yet, here we are, from Houston to Odessa, from Lubbock to Hemphill, from Galveston to El Paso, and everywhere in between, we still hold our Southern accent unlike a lot of y'all
Hillbilly on February 21, 2020:
When someone who speaks any one of the thousands of other active spoken languages around the world is taught english, why do you think they're not taught the "southern twang"? They are not taught it because it ISN'T CORRECT. Oil isn't pronounced "all", its OIL. English is supposed to sound mid western.
Sam N on February 20, 2020:
Southern accents have died down a lot. I grew up in central Mississippi and most everyone that’s younger talks normal with the occasional exception of “y’all”, “ain’t”, and “fixen”. Delaware, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida aren’t really part of the South. The Deep South is the real South areas nearby are just “moderate south”.
Foxfre on February 18, 2020:
I love this article. I was raised in the piedmont of NC. My mother was from the mountains of NC; my dad from Raleigh. I lived in the NC mountains for 20 years, but now I live in Charleston. The four areas each have unique accents and colloquialisms. In the Appalachians, some say it's uh niiiice niiight toniiiight, really drawing out the long "i," while in other words, the "i" is said like a short "a." (It's a nice night tonight.) Think is thank and stink is stank. The past tense of thank (think) is thunk. And thank is thanky - maybe from thank ye??? And some hillbillies actually say Yah hoo! when excited. I done herd it wit my own ears.
diddy on February 13, 2020:
This is as wrong as it could possibly be.
Mandy on February 12, 2020:
I'm from Tennessee, and I feel like this definitely isn't accurate across the entire southern dialect.
Hope on February 07, 2020:
This don´t sound right, the only thing that sounds right is Yaĺl
Ezekiel Mascoll on January 29, 2020:
when I say southerner ,because was born in texas,I would say southana.
Em on January 16, 2020:
Lol, I'm Canadian so this was interesting. I moved to Philly when I was in my pre-teens and thought that they had thick accents. Then I met my cousins from Texas.
( is w-aaa-t-er not wut-r )
Chris on December 30, 2019:
The word “anything” is key to spotting a fake southern accent. Nobody says any thin’, especially southerners. You are more likely to hear “anythang.”
Richard on October 22, 2019:
I grew up in Oklahoma just north of the Texas state line and this is the way most people speak on both sides of the border, although there are some slight differences and variations. Know what I mean, y'all?
Ellie on October 21, 2019:
This is resourceful. I like mah southern accent now.
William on September 12, 2019:
That might be in Carolina and other places but down here I say tire it ain't thar it's time you understand
Madison on July 23, 2019:
I never new I had a southern accent since now I had thought I talked like everyone else I’m gonna show my friends and see there expression and see if it’s bigger than my
Mark on July 16, 2019:
I'm a New Yorker (Noo Yawrka). I've been to each of the lower 48 states. I was educated in California for my undergarduate degree, and in Virginia for my post graduate degrees. Both states recognized my NY accent straight away. I was frequently asked, "You're not from around here, are you?" I always replued, "Why no; what gave it away?"
Edward Homan on July 13, 2019:
At the beginning of the titled 'Different types of Southern Accents'. Your first sentence was "The American South is (?) large area that features many different dialects of the Southern accent." I noticed a missing 'a' between is & large. Now having permanently moved south 4 years ago, I also find myself posting on forums with missing words. - So is that common in the south to shorten sentences in both speech & writing?
Mac on July 10, 2019:
I live in Texas and a lot of this stuff is wrong I died laughing while tryin’ to pronounce some of this stuff
Gloria jung on June 28, 2019:
Thanks so much this is really great I’m really trying to learn the North Carolina southern accent I’m an older woman and I’m in a play that she’s in the southern accent if anybody wants to help me I’d love to find out who they are and I will be
Heaven on June 17, 2019:
I’m from Texas and we don’t talk like that omg this had me dead . Tire is not taar it’s literally tire house is not hahss it’s house
on June 14, 2019:
Some of these are incorrect and maybe even just insulting .
Hopie on May 30, 2019:
You missed one more. This is one I use a lot! Oil is pronounced like ole or ol.
"I need to change the ole in my truck."
E. Douglas Pratt on May 26, 2019:
There's a phrase I've heard men use in the Southeast. I get a funny feeling it's a White racist implication. What does this mean:
"I'm just a lucky white boy."
Tasha on May 24, 2019:
Great article. Very helpful. Thank you!!!
Diane on May 09, 2019:
I grew up in Miami and the Everglades. My grandparents on both sides were from Georgia and the Carolinas, so my parents talked Southern. I've been teased for saying cee-ment for cement, and neked instead of naked, which seems completely normal to me but go figure. Had a guy from New York years ago just giggle everytime I said something. I tried real hard to train myself not to say ya'll or ain't but they sneak out sometimes. Lol. I'm not sure what my accent is because Miami is very diverse so you'd think I wouldnt have an accent, but growing up I was around southern accents all the time. I dunno.
li on April 12, 2019:
From georgia and, i declare, if anyone says southerners are dumb, know, its STEREOTYPE, we are super smart, i go to a magnet IB school, i show for it.God bless ya Cheryl1822
li on April 12, 2019:
i am southern and whoever says southern people are dumb is stupid themselves, lord knows, you have never had all a's at magnet ib school, so alex save yourself some talkin'
Cheryl1822 on April 10, 2019:
Well im from england,and my life desire is to go to many places in the south,real true towns where the people make you welcome,just waiting on that lottery ! Be proud of your accent,its what makes you..
T Rob on March 26, 2019:
I’m from deep southwest Virginia. We have strong southern accent we say uh-gin (hard g), not a-gain. I only hear a-gain in northern Virginia areas. Maybe in the Carolina’s and GA they say a-gain. My accent is sometimes referred to as “hillbilly”
Allen Noon on March 20, 2019:
I was born and raised in Middle Ga and I agree with some of the above and my experience is different on some of the stuff. I think that the “Shit Southern Women Say” series easily found on YouTube is pretty close to most of the sound and expression that I know. Your mileage may vary. Most everything I’ve seen in movies and television is atrocious.
sandi brooks on March 08, 2019:
I'm also from Arkansas the Delta region. And there is one word you forgot. My son just pointed this out yesterday and its how I say the word wash which is warsh. I read where someone aske dhow we say "about" easy enough its bout like ima bout to. I never really thought about how I said things until I run across this article. We say alot of hey ya'll, whacha doin, also my son hates it when I tell him im tryna learn him sumptin lol. It would be nice to have sound clips
Mystery on February 20, 2019:
I think you have missed some words. First I would like to say that I love cowboys which I think are from Western/Southern and I always am talkin' with their accent, like y'all and stuff. But the words I think you've missed are 'howdy' for hello and 'ain't'. I'LL give you some examples; "how'd y'all" & "I ain't goin' to the doctor at all". It'd be nice if you could add these to your website. :D I'd appreciate a lot.
Person on February 16, 2019:
Is it also normal for people in Atlanta, Georgia, after they get sick does their accent get heavier, it bugs my friends so much? Cause that happens to me all the time, and I already have some twang.
Person on February 16, 2019:
I asked my friends if they could have any accent what would it be. They chose theirs, and told me don't you dare say southern cause you already got one. I was so surprised by that cause I can't tell.
Turner42 on February 12, 2019:
Alex, southern people are smart
alex on February 09, 2019:
southern people so stupid
Wendy on February 06, 2019:
I am from the Deep South, Alabama, and I and my family have the Deep South accent. I have actually tried to speak differently but can’t do it. IDK, I guess it’s just in our blood. So for those who love it , thank you, for those who poke fun at us , God bless you
brandolyn on January 17, 2019:
hi im 15 i grew up in memphis tennessee but i noticed that i didn't have much of a accent in boston because people don't say anything. maybe they are lying but a lot of these words i pronoce that way. i also noticed that when im with a friend thats from the south my accent gets stronger.
Person. on December 11, 2018:
Thank you! I had no problem saying these surprisingly.
billy on December 03, 2018:
coam oawn ovah herah swatie i gawt a yellah flawar
student on November 27, 2018:
it would be nice with some recording examples bcs it occurs some difficulties for me .I am confused about how to pronunce it :(
P.S thanks for crucial infos :)
Alex T on October 27, 2018:
You forgot the expression "Somethin fierce".
Personally I love the Southern drawls, especially in women. Growing up here in Washington it's definitely a rarity to hear such a thing. I definitely to travel about to the small southern towns.
Mpho on October 26, 2018:
Helpful for meh cowboy and cowgirl ball. thanks
SClemmons from the Carolina Coast on July 07, 2018:
Kamber, Geographically, Oklahoma is considered a south central state, not a southern state. It was never considered part of the "Old South" nor was it a member state of the confederacy during the Civil War.
However, the Confederate government did in fact sign a treaty with both the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian nations to provide troops to fight for the Confederacy in exchange for land grants after the war.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 04, 2018:
Great explanation of the dialect of your neck of the Southern woods. I find it fascinating that we have so many Southern accents that differ. I'm from Arkansas, the Ozark Mountains, to be exact, but our accent is different from the Arkansas Delta (eastern part) or South Årkansas. We use most of the expressions you mentioned, but we've retained our Scottish heritage with the hard "r" instead of dropping it. We would say "git in tha carrr." The Delta would say "git in tha cahwa". But we all say "fixin' to."
I worked in broadcasting for 20 years, and they ruined my accent. I had to learn "midwest pronunciation," which was broadcast style then. It took me years to get my dialect back, and sometimes I still find myself saying "eyee" instead of "ah" and "tieem" instead of "tahm". I must have gotten most of it back though because a coworker and I were in Seattle on business (she's a retaarrd English teacher, and we were both legal editors at the tahm.) We went shopping, and I heard a clerk say "I just love to hear Southerners talk. It sounds so country." My friend got her back up over that. I wasn't too happy eether. We never say eyether. But change is coming with the constant moving around the country. I notice that many of our young people are losing their accents or never developing one.
David1154M on June 26, 2018:
I grew up in NC but have lived in New England for 30+ years. Now these folks 'tawk real funny'. An attorney does not specialize in 'elder law', but instead it's 'eldah lar'. No one sells car parts, but they do have plenty of cah pahts. It's not pictures, it's pitchas, and the ladies keep those pitchas in their pockabooks, rather than their pocketbooks.
And sweet ice tea totally befuddles them.
Hoodie and masky on June 15, 2018:
I think this is great advice
Aubrey on May 21, 2018:
I live in Minnesota and we say, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."
Artemis on May 20, 2018:
Yep, accents down here come in many shades. Especially in TN. You hear it one way in Nashville and 20 minutes out one way hear it with a different twang in Charlotte or White Bluff.
darajdowns on May 13, 2018:
This is definitely describing a south Carolinian accent because in Georgia we don't say "dress" with two syllables, nor do we say "river" as "riv-ah"...it's riv-er. Just like it's spelled. "Tire" is pronounced "ti-yer" with two syllables and definitely not "tar". Although you will come across some that do pronounce it that way. For instance, my husband has family from south florida and from north alabama who pronounce "there" as "thar" and "tire" as "tar". Most everyone from my neck of the woods though pronounces tire with two syllables, but dress with one syllable. I really think it's all according to how you're brought up and what family you were brought up in.
Kamber on May 01, 2018:
Don’t forget Oklahoma.. I’ve been doing a lot of research and the 5 tribes that made up the Indian territory at the time of civil war signed with the confederate side. OK is in fact a southern state but because we were still Indian territory My don’t know where to classify us. It’s so refreshing to be back around more southern accents, culture and tradition than where I was living before!
Kara on May 01, 2018:
Being from Southern Louisiana, our accents are all pretty different than that of other southern regions. And there's a stark contrast between Cajuns and New Orleans and Thibedeaux and every other parish.
People from Chalmette tend to sound like Thibedeaux mixed with Boston, which is quite strange.
Carol Champagne on April 24, 2018:
I am a writer from Kansas and I don't think most of us born and raised in Kansas have much of an accent. However, all of my family are from Arkansas. My story is about Southerners and usually I can close my eyes and imagine my father saying the word I need. But, I was puzzled as to how to write it. You have solved my problems. Thank you so much.
JWBaughan on April 17, 2018:
I'm from central Virginia and the Charleston accent is similar to our accent. It's the smallest dialect in the South, known as the Tidewater accent. It has localized spots around early settlements. It's dying out too. Experts say it will be obsolete soon. It is based on the earliest colonial days and is the old plantation accent of the upper class. I think public schools and outsiders are killing it. My grandchildren don't have much of it left. This year Virginia passed a line. We have more residents from elsewhere than native Virginians.
It's kind of sad. All these people move here because they like this culture. Then they set about to change all our ways. My family has lived right here for 300 years and I'm thinking about moving deeper South to retire. I don't recognize my home anymore.
SClemmons from the Carolina Coast on April 02, 2018:
Some common expressions you can hear in North Carolina include:
It's fixin' to rain
That bucket is slam full
My brother ran that dog slap over with his truck
I can't go in that store..they run me off
He laid out of work today
He's at home piled up in the bed.
That hammer you're looking for is over yonder
I can't eat another bite, I'm plumb full
If that boy keeps it up I'm going to wear him out with my belt
It's not "hell no", it's pronounced "hail no."
A person named Bill is pronounced "Beel"
If you didn't hear something, it's not pardon me? It's "Do what now?"
You don't "push a button" you "mash" it.
LOL...That's all I can think of for the moment
Jack Reaping on April 01, 2018:
A: Usually the term "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." is more often said like "You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit." Replacing throw with pitch
B: Growing up in Georgia, I never thought about the way I or other people talked. It wasn't until my family moved to Maryland that I noticed people didnt talk very much like I do. I have seldom heard people up here use "gonna" and "lemme" like I always have.
My brother and I have an argument about whether my older brother has a southern accent. Reading this I can say he can, but not really.
C: The southern accent basically shortens words a lot, sorta like what Shakespeare used in his play. It removes consonants and/or merges 2 words.
caitlyn on March 21, 2018:
i was born in north Carolina and i still talk southern we cant figure out why
SClemmons from the Carolina Coast on March 20, 2018:
I was born and raised here in North Carolina, and we don't talk like that here. Those pronunciations seem to be a bit exaggerated. And West Virginia is not a southern state. It was a union state during the civil war.
Ara on March 14, 2018:
I have a friend who is a Southern lady, and she pronounces 'teriyaki' and 'teriyaka'. Is this typical?
British Belle on February 19, 2018:
You say "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" is a more Southern term? That's all I've ever heard from my family, and I live in California. Albeit, most of my family is from Oklahoma and Tennessee and places around there, but still. I have the weirdest "accent." My poppa on my mom's side was from London, and my great grandma on my dad's side is from Oklahoma, so I've got a mix of English and the Southern twang in my voice
BigDiddy on February 01, 2018:
While I will agree with most of your usages, I can't help but notice that you seem to be following more of a Plantation English - or, old time rich Southern.
I am from Georgia - been here all my life. I am accustomed to y'all, git, fixin-to and aaaa-ite (awlright or alright), but I aint never said "be-fo-wah"....
"Swate"..naw hunny, it's still sweet...sometimes "shweet"
"ovah"..this one is mixed. If I am saying "climb over", I pronounce it "over". If I am meaning its "over there", I say, "O-vair"..but you gotta nod in that same general direction as your meaning.
I have also found that we have moved away from "taar" (tar) to a point where we overly annunciate the "i"...tYre.
"sayd"..has become "told"..."I dun told you"
"Skole"???..only if yer dippin' (skoal). It has always been school (skewl)
I get the point, and the humor, but stressing the pronunciations like this just makes us sound dumber and civil war era-ish. We aint used some of these words in fuh-ever.
LittleDixieGirl71 on January 18, 2018:
I love these articles on Southern Sayings! Only one thing, and please don't take it as a criticism, but you left Missouri out of the South.
Missouri came into the Union in 1821 as a slave state and (informally) seceded in 1861. Missouri has historically been a southern state and is still widely populated by folks that came from southern states, mainly TN, VA and KY. My family has been there for many generations and migrated from TN, VA, KY, MD, NC, and SC. All settled in the area known as "Little Dixie" (aka Boonslick) which are the counties along the Missouri River and generally in the central part of the state. These were richest farming/plantation communities and the largest slave holding areas.
With that said, I can attest to the fact that I grew up hearing lots and lots of Southern Sayings and all of my family has a nice, sweet drawl.
Ryan Swan on November 23, 2017:
I'm from Arkansas, and I'll tell ya one thing right now, it ain't all jis quite like how you put it on here. Most the time my folks will pernounce the "i" in "like" as a long I sound instead of using what they call a dipthong where the i sorta turns halfway through into an e. I also heard, and this may be wrong, that the word "tump" is something unique to Arkansas. Ya use it kinda like dump, but on accident. Like you might, on purpose, dump out a bowl in the sink, but you might accidentally tump over a barrel of Papaw' s feed corn if ya ain't bein' careful. I noticed that, and it might just be me, we pernounce "of" not sp much as "uhv" but as "ahv". And it's several other things in that same vain that I could talk about, but y'all get the idea.
Loading.... on October 04, 2017:
Thanks. We were talking about the Oregon Trail and how they talked. This was very helpful
firstname.lastname@example.org on August 04, 2017:
What about the implosives? Like 'g' in 'git her done', Where and when do these show up?
Frank on July 29, 2017:
I was absolutely fascinated when I joined the marine corps in the early 70's and found American Indians from the Oklahoma reservations that had the exact same dialect that I have here in nc. Were they part of the forced march trail of tears you think?
GG10 on June 15, 2017:
This is a really helpful website for me 'cause we've got a school play that has southern American accents
Rai on May 21, 2017:
Andy on May 13, 2017:
How would the word "boy" be pronounced and written? I'm writing a book and struggling for the right southern pronunciation.
Joseph on April 22, 2017:
HA.. I just threw my wife for a loop. She called from the store and asked if we needed LIMA beans.. I said no we need Lama beans. That went on for 10 min... Then she if asked we needed tomatoes...I replied no we don't need no matas. Pretty obvious I married a northern lady.
justwondering on April 11, 2017:
how do you say we all with a southern drawl? can you even?
Chessie on March 11, 2017:
Dear Miss Johnson, Thank you for such an interesting article! I very much enjoy listening to the Southern accent spoken, and I will surely be returning to this site so i can learn a little "Southern" by heart. Americans, hang on to your accents. Find out how your Great-Grandparents pronounced words and phrases, and learn them by heart so they can be taught to future generations. I try'da tawk as much Brooklyn, New York as possible. My Mother said that my Father used to say "chewn gum" for "chewing gum". He also loved Southern food.
Yasin on January 30, 2017:
How do you pronounce "about" as if you were "about" to do something in a southern accent?
rls8994 from Mississippi on January 16, 2017:
Loved this! Born and raised in Mississippi, now living in southern Louisiana, I have heard and used many of these sayings myself lol
GreenMind Guides from USA on December 25, 2016:
Great idea for a hub -- my southern-bred folks use these sayings all the time.
Whity Trash on December 06, 2016:
hello to all
benny on November 20, 2016:
the dashes ain't that that long of a space, just very short
k8D on November 18, 2016:
I was a young nurse from the North working in a coronary care unit in good ol' Arkansas. I rushed to the bedside of a patient who I thought said over the intercom that she was in "bad pain" only to discover she only wanted a bed pan. I realized then that I had to learn a new language--- fast.
k8D on November 18, 2016:
I grew up in the North,but was exposed to people from Missouri quite often as I grew up. It doesn't bother me when people from Missouri or certain elderly people refer to this state as Missooruh. It grates on me when I hear an educated person not from the South pronouncing it this way. It seems affected to me. I finally felt the need to correct my dear friend who grew up in Seattle when it got to be too much for me. I'm not in the habit of correcting adults with accents different from mine. I might ask them to repeat what they are saying when I don't understand them.
anon on November 09, 2016:
I used to have to hide my accent for so long because I was different and didn't fit in up north when I visited Michigan they said I sounded terrible and that I should learn how to talk. So I told them they sound like a dyin possum in a trash can. The way I talk as an Oklahoman is no different than them it just sounds that way I was 12
natalie on November 04, 2016:
hi there can u tell me please what a richmond,virginia ,usa accent sounds like and describe it thanks ..
Jean Bush on November 03, 2016:
From VA and always say "winda" for window. Can't seem to break the habit. Haha!
Cole on October 28, 2016:
First off, who would EVER..... Pronounce "before" as BeFoWah? Literally I'm from the south I should know lol.
Angel on July 01, 2016:
Came here to comment after reading the one about "git" and "get".
Ah, I remember "You git what you git so don't pitch a fit/You git what you git and you don't pitch a fit". One of the two.
Oh, and I'm commemting from my bed near/from the GA-TN line. I've been to SC, and y'all don't really sound that different. But that may be because I was visitin' distant family and stayed in the house the whole time.
I'll comment more if I find anythang interestin'.
Gordan Zunar from New York on November 06, 2014:
Nice article, I love accents.
John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona on September 17, 2014:
I greatly enjoyed this hub. Your spellings for correct pronunciation were super. Surprisingly, I have always thought of a southern accent as somewhat sofisticated, not "country". During the Watergate hearings I can remember listening to men like Howard Baker (Tennessee), Fred Thompson (Georgia), and other times Sam Rayburn (Texas) and thinking that they had the best pointed questions and reactions to testifiers. They seemed ahead of the pack. I do enjoy listening to a Southern lawyer! Good hub, voted up.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on June 07, 2014:
FAN--TAS--TIC! I mean, Whooo-eeeee! Slap my mammy! Loved this hub more than a new litter of puppies under a new rubber-tired wagon. Seriously. Voted up and all the way. Great work. Were you impressed with my Southern style of commenting?
Keep up the great work and I ask that you read one or two of my hubs, and I ask you to "please," be My Follower.
I would love that, Chaplin.
Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Al.
Beverly Cantrell on January 16, 2014:
Someone linked this to me; and I've never realized until now how thick my accent is. No wonder anyone can understand me half the time!!
Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on November 07, 2013:
I think there needs to be a class to teach us the old southern way of talking before it is completely gone. Much of my family has roots in the Carolina's and Missouri. Without the elders around I miss harin ole wys of sayun thangs. I love how you were able to "spell" it out for us. Much better than I just tried, thanks for the memories.
Eric on June 26, 2013:
The one we find funny is in relation to the i sounding like ah, so when we say ice, you say ahs very familiar to ass. The best then is when you hear someone say they want to go for ice cream.