Accent in Passing


Various factions within my houshold contrive to to leave the NPR radio on within their room when they are not around, so walking by there this morning I over-heard a pundit spot over accents and politics.  Apparently, according to the spot, Hillary is known for parsing every sentence and syllable out of her mouth, and Jeb and W all seem to use their own accents to their own best benifit as well, perhaps either by toning down or exageratting their twangs when needed.  Also, it seems that Obama is also known for manipulating his own accent, prompting the anouncer to say “leading many people to wonder ‘just who is the real Obama.’ I think he might have said something like “sounds like” or something but really the fact that he was subtly dropping a Republican sound bite grabbed my attention. 

 If you ask me, Oama’s accent is either the standard midwestern  or it often shifts between accents, or it’s an odd combo accent,  both because his parents were from two very different cultures and because he moved around quite abit, although his formative years seemed to be in Hawaii.  I dont think it’s midwestern, since it’s reported that he intentionally shifts it.  Whatever it is, it seems that he feels that his accent wouldn’t be as acceptable to the American public in it’s natural state. The same is also true of the attempts Hillary makes on her own linguistic patterns, which makes sense because  women with deep southern Hills accents might not come off well to the mainstream public.  I’m not saying that it definitely would come off badly, but Hillary might think so, if that’s the accent she has.  It’s basically a case of the dialect of the elites (midwestern) rubbing raw against the dialects of the regions.  

Which brings us to the real point here, that radio spot is more revealing about us that it is about Obama, Hillary, W, Jeb, or other pols.  The fact is that pols have to manipulate their accent so that our percepttions of them don’t turn out to be negative ones.  What would most people feel about Obama if he had a deep Arkansas black accent for example? Would he have a chance?  I don’t know. 

I really should have stuck around to listen to the whole spot on that radio but i fear i was walking around the house doing chores and this was just the sort of thing that stayed with me and gnawed at me before i had to explore it more. Anyway, I think y’all see where I’m going with that and it ain’t pretty, right? But, this radio spot has dug up a potential can of worms,  so I think it might be instructive to explore and see what we can catch with them.


Update:  Oops, found out that Hillary is from Chicago originally! <feels shot down>


2 Responses to “Accent in Passing”

  1. 1 Sus

    Some people pick up on others’ accents and change their own unconsciously.

    Mostly I wanted to see if I can post here. 😉

  2. 2 faeyin

    Yeah I’m one of them 🙂 fortunately or unfortunately

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