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What are some good, snarky comebacks for when people make fun of your accent?
March 28, 2010 1:05 PM   Subscribe

What are some good, snarky comebacks for when people make fun of your accent?

Having been born and raised in Virginia, I have a slight Southern drawl. Most native Virginians don't even think I have an accent, but it's apparent to people from other places. It gets tiresome when I travel to places like the West Coast when everyone thinks it funny to make fun of the way I talk.
posted by MaryDellamorte to Human Relations (54 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tell them their aura looks sour and they should get it serviced.

Thank them for their tact, and compliment their hair.

Their accent reminds you of that guy on Fox News.
posted by carsonb at 1:10 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


My all purpose answer is to just stare at the person stony faced until the humour evaporates and leaves a weird silence. The idea is that their faux pas (like a fart) is too heinous to be adressed by you as a polite person. Then just continue talking about the original subject. I realise that that is less fun than you might want, but it is highly satisfying!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:17 PM on March 28, 2010 [26 favorites]


If they ask you where you got your accent, reply "where did you get yours???"
posted by jgirl at 1:17 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Everyone's got an accent to someone from somewhere else. Mentioning it is rather parochial, don't you think?"
posted by MuffinMan at 1:18 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding the stony-faced glare.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 1:19 PM on March 28, 2010


Say you have a speech disorder. Should embarrass the hell out of them. If not - nothing was going to make an impact anyway.
posted by jacalata at 1:22 PM on March 28, 2010


'Don't worry, even on your wages I'm sure you'll be able to save enough to do at least a little travelling eventually.'
posted by jamjam at 1:23 PM on March 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


This generally only works when someone points out you saying "Y'all" (Which I do):

"Yes, how special of English to want to lack a perfectly valid conjugation form. Let's go tell the Romans and the Old German Tribes they got it wrong."
posted by strixus at 1:23 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Old but handy: "Yeah, but [insert gender of choice] love it."
posted by Ys at 1:24 PM on March 28, 2010


Tell them that their dialect reminds you of Wonderbread and television.
posted by The White Hat at 1:24 PM on March 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


With a southern accent, the correct comeback is of course "Bless your heart," or perhaps "Why thanks for noticing; bless your heart!"

Query: Do you just have a generic southern drawl, or one of those Tidewater / Appalachian accents where you go oat of the hoase? If it's the latter, well, that's distinctive and unique enough that even people who wouldn't otherwise poke fun can be obnoxiously curious about it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:28 PM on March 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, you could remind them that in addition to having funny accents, Southerners are also known to be fond of having guns.

Or, you could work on various other regional American accents, so you can make fun of theirs right back.

But really, my advice would be to see if you can't alter your perspective on having your accent parroted. While it's certainly gauche behavior to ape someone's accent you don't know well, it's rarely done out of malice. Most people probably don't think of it as "making fun of," so much as enjoying its novelty.

Wanting to have a canned response makes sense -- maybe something as simple as telling them they might want to keep working on it before testing it out in front of the next Southerner they meet -- but try to be charitable, and not take their poor tact the wrong way.
posted by patnasty at 1:28 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


These are all great answers. I have used the stone faced stare in the past (I'm really good at it). The only other thing I've used is "and you sound like an asshole" to "you sound like a hick" comments which probably comes across a little too confrontational.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 1:29 PM on March 28, 2010


When they're done slagging you, wait a beat then politely ask them to repeat they've said slowly because their accent confused you.
posted by larry_darrell at 1:30 PM on March 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


Stony-faced is best; bless your heart works when you just can't not speak, and for those times when you simply can't restrain yourself:

"You sound like a hick."
"You hear like an asshole."
posted by sallybrown at 1:32 PM on March 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh and to answer Rou, it's just your generic very slight Southern drawl, nothing too quirky or crazy. You mostly hear it when I pronounce the long I sound.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 1:33 PM on March 28, 2010


Tell them Greenland...just to fuck with them.
posted by lobstah at 1:35 PM on March 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Riffing off Larry's advice: nothing kills a joke faster than having to repeat it. Saying "excuse me, I didn't catch that. Could you repeat that?" will often deflate people. Followed by "what an odd thing to say. Anyway..." and return to previous subject.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:37 PM on March 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


Ask them what fizzy soft drinks are called. If they don't have an accent, chances are their name for fizzy soft drinks is a stupid one.

[NOT MIDWEST-IST. I'm from Iowa, I swear]
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:40 PM on March 28, 2010


I forget exactly what the quote was, but I think it was on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" where an actress with a really thick German (or something related to German) accent said, "How come I'm the only one here without an accent?"

I'm sure that can be adapted appropriately.
posted by zizzle at 1:40 PM on March 28, 2010


With a southern accent, the correct comeback is of course "Bless your heart," or perhaps "Why thanks for noticing; bless your heart!"

"Bless your heart," I learned from 2 years each in Kentucky and Alabama, does NOT mean "thank you" or anything close to that. It means "you poor thing."

"I locked my keys in my car in Delchamp's parking lot this morning!"
"Oh, bless your heart! I hope you got triple-A to help you out."

"My son broke his leg and will have to miss little league this summer."
"Well, bless his little heart! At least he can watch the games, though."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:44 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


they probably aren't making fun of you so much as they're teasing you in a friendly way - we ALL have accents, after all, and responding with hostility is going to seem awfully weird.
posted by moxiedoll at 1:46 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It's not an accent. It's a dialect."

(not to be used with anyone who knows anything about languages, but those aren't the people you are dealing with.)

"Bless your heart," I learned from 2 years each in Kentucky and Alabama, does NOT mean "thank you" or anything close to that. It means "you poor thing."

I always had the impression (and AskMe has strengthened it) that it can also mean something more like " ... , shithead" or "well, fuck you, too."

posted by whatzit at 1:59 PM on March 28, 2010


I agree with moxiedoll. I have a Canadian accent and when I meet new people they'll sometimes laugh at the way I say "out" or "about." It doesn't offend me; I'm happy when someone notices because it gives me something to talk about.
posted by ewiar at 2:06 PM on March 28, 2010


I knew someone in college whose English accent always got comments (though the majority were positive ones.) His usual line was, "I didn't invent it. Do you want to go upstairs?" YMMV.
posted by emelenjr at 2:29 PM on March 28, 2010


"I don't have an accent! But I love yours!"
posted by tabubilgirl at 2:40 PM on March 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


"sexy, isn't it?"
posted by Neekee at 2:40 PM on March 28, 2010


With a southern accent, the correct comeback is of course "Bless your heart," or perhaps "Why thanks for noticing; bless your heart!"

Query: Do you just have a generic southern drawl, or one of those Tidewater / Appalachian accents where you go oat of the hoase? If it's the latter, well, that's distinctive and unique enough that even people who wouldn't otherwise poke fun can be obnoxiously curious about it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe


Can someone really be obnoxiously curious?

I come from the north of England, to everyone who isn't from the north, my accent tends to convince them I'm an uneducated brute (erm). I've gradually stopped being offended and either laugh at that or just (over)play up to the stereotype a bit. In a group, someone will usually twig and we'll talk, if it's just the one person and they're being snooty, I tend to leave them to it. I do like the semi-calling out "silent glare/request for clarification" as above tho. Maybe it's a generational thing as well?
posted by blue funk at 2:42 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a fellow Virginian, I sympathize, not all can have such excellent accents.

I suppose it depends on what you mean "make fun." Are they breaking out the Cletus accent from the Simpsons or are they simply saying things like, "Gosh, you have a funny accent!" or "you're from the South, aren't you?" or "You sound like a redneck!" ?


Ultimately, I'd go with the option that removes the empowerment or enjoyment the speaker gains from making whatever silly comments they make. The silent treatment seems like a good way, especially toward making the speaker feel embarrassed about their behavior. I also like the idea asking them to repeat it, but add a solemn nod and go, "Ah." afterward. Since you want snarkalicious fun...

You can always offer a fake laugh and say, "You just reminded me of a guy I knew in elementary school!"

Or variant,

"Some nine year old told me the same thing at the airport."


An Appalachian accent is different than a Tidewater accent
posted by Atreides at 3:00 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"bless your heart" can mean a multitude of things, depending how used, to include thank you or "what an idiot."
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2010


As a Southerner myself, I use a nasty smile, and the longest words I can get into the situation, as in: "I do apologize. My vowel usage can be somewhat disorienting." Or, "Yes, I said A, as in 'antidisestablishmentarianism."
posted by Countess Elena at 3:22 PM on March 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't know where you go on the West Coast where everyone makes fun of your accent, but most people I know don't make fun of accent. There's gentle teasing of accents and many may compliment you on having on the accent and may consider it sexy or something. If they''re LOLREDNECK well fuck them. They probably make fun of Brits, Canadians, Germans, and everyone else. They're immature jerks.

I have a generic American accent without any regional dialect. I do have some California English dialect tics like calling freeways "the" [number]. I've been teased about that and other quirks but 99% of the time I'll just let it slide.

Where I do have a discernable accent is in my Spanish. I sound like some gringo Texan to people in Mexico. I'll get teased over my apparently thick accent be people. What I do is actually exaggerate my accent. We both laugh and then go on to talk about other stuff. I had a friend from Atlanta who had an accent that got worse with the application of alcohol. Her response was similar in that she turned up the accent to 11 and sometimes would tack on a "bless your little heart." In most cases everyone had a laugh and the issue was settled.

(It is odd I lived in Texas for 15 years and didn't take on a Texas accent in English, but I did in speaking Spanish. Even though I initially learned Spanish in school in California and then later in immersion courses in Cuernavaca. Yet to Mexicans in Mexico I sound like George W Bush when he would speak Spanish on a campaign stop in Laredo )
posted by birdherder at 3:30 PM on March 28, 2010


A Southerner who's lived in the Midwest and East Coast speaking...

My favourite has always just been "fuck you!"

And if anyone calls me a hick or backwards, I just tell them what I do (I'm an astrophysicist (who says 'new-cu-ler,' by the way)). That usually shuts them up.

But seriously...

The media has taught non-Southern Americans well that we are a bunch of backwards, racist, good-for-nothing hillbillies. In my experience very little that you can do for someone upon first meeting will convince them otherwise. The best thing that I have found to do is to ask them not to make fun of my accent, and treat them with respect. It is very hard. It hurts. so many Midwesterners made fun of my east Georgia accent that it has driven me to tears on a couple of occasions. However, I think it will only worsen the problem to be snarky or sarcastic. You'll eventually slip up, and confirm their suspicions about Southerners.

The only cure for ignorance is education.
posted by chicago2penn at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


""Bless your heart," I learned from 2 years each in Kentucky and Alabama, does NOT mean "thank you" or anything close to that. It means "you poor thing."

I have enough Southern family to know that "bless your heart" is also the most polite way to say "fuck you" in the English language.
posted by klangklangston at 3:40 PM on March 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


And since I can lapse inta Northern Midwest pretty absentmindedly, I just either reply while really laying the accent on thick, or by mimicking their accent—everyone's got one—back to them.
posted by klangklangston at 3:43 PM on March 28, 2010


I'm a transplanted Southerner living in New York. Used to be, when someone would make fun of my accent, I would lay it on thick and say happily, "Yes, I'm from Alabama! My folks just got indoor plumbing!"

But now I just laugh it off. I don't think they mean harm - most Yankees are charmed by my accent (which is really pretty slight). Besides, a few people actually took what I said at face value. It was discouraging.
posted by Evangeline at 3:43 PM on March 28, 2010


Just make fun of theirs. For California, your worst Keanu Reeves impression will do.
posted by callmejay at 4:23 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Bless your heart," I learned from 2 years each in Kentucky and Alabama, does NOT mean "thank you" or anything close to that. It means "you poor thing."

I'd say that it's closer to "Fuck you in the ass with an entire pine tree," but the passive-aggressive character of the southern "Bless your heart" was indeed the point.

As an added bonus, anyone else within earshot who's spent time in the south or with southerners will get the joke too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Beldar Conehead would say "We're from France" which was funny because they were so obviously not.
posted by three blind mice at 4:51 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine (a Hampton Roads native, "oat of the hoase" and then some) and myself (unaccented) were traveling somewhere - a bar in Colorado I think - when someone overheard her talking and made a joke about her accent. It wasn't funny in the slightest and it was extremely rude, and overheard by a lot of people in the public space we were in.

She just started at them, dead faced for what felt like a full minute, until she said very loudly, with the addition of a slight lisp for extra measure, "Ah wuld ah-preshe-ayte it, if y'auhll di'nt joke on mah spee-tch im-pay-diment."

I'd never heard so many apologies or had so many free drinks in my life.

Generally though, most people were charmed by her accent. Made me want to fake one.
posted by sephira at 4:53 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, you guys must be a hoot at parties.

"Thank you, I like yours too" seems to work fine.
posted by gjc at 4:57 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just make an allowance for it being unintentional/unconscious, rather than mocking. I'm from the midwest, and my accent has warped significantly in the decade since I came to California, but I have a couple of friends with southern accents that are close enough to my midwestern one that I drop back into it after we've been together any longer than a few minutes. And, once I do that, I end up saying "y'all" once in a while like they do, but only because it feels natural -- it comes out without me thinking about it.

Having said that, yeah, if someone makes fun of you for something, you have to decide the spirit in which it's intended and respond accordingly (from laughing to mocking back to stony glare to WTF.) Having witty bon mots prepared may cause you to drop one when the person meant no real offense, turning something simple into something awkward.

Also: sometimes people tease "outsiders" about something that calls out their outsiderness, in order to help make them an insider; essentially saying "hey, we notice your difference, and we're cool with it, and with you, enough that we feel comfortable teasing you." Doesn't always come off that way or get interpreted that way, but you'll always go further socially by assuming the best instead of the worst.
posted by davejay at 5:02 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've never been all that good at the stony stare but I have found that the amused WTF is quite effective. If the "making fun" is inept flirting or badly gauged social hazing, then it'll stop there, no harm done. But anyone who seriously makes fun of your accent is hollow like a chocolate Easter bunny. Pick out something in the bunny's speech or attire that demands attention and explanation. Smile like you know something they don't (which you do). Fuck them.

Own your accent; own your history.

strixus:"Yes, how special of English to want to lack a perfectly valid conjugation form. Let's go tell the Romans and the Old German Tribes they got it wrong."

I always have and always will defend "y'all" as a badly needed ungendered second-person plural.

posted by dogrose at 6:09 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's always a deadpan, "well, aren't you observant?" or "wow, you're really observant," or another variant.
posted by sentient at 6:35 PM on March 28, 2010


Get with one or two of your best friends and practice the stony-faced glare.

When you have mastered the glare without breaking into a smile or a scowl. use it to your advantage.

The people who make a comment like this in a derogatory or condescending manner (as opposed to an inquisitive or curious one) are being very impolite. Do not lower yourself to their level.
posted by Drasher at 7:26 PM on March 28, 2010


Bless your hearts, you all are missing the beauty of this phrase. It does NOT necessarily mean "fuck you" or anything negative. It can be used in an non-sarcastic, unambiguously positive way, or a pitying way, or in a fuck off kind of way, etc. And it's often difficult to tell which way a speaker means it, particularly for outsiders. That's why it's the world's most perfect phrase.

FWIW, I get comments on my Colorado accent AND on my east Texas accent. I don't really see how that works; I think sometimes people just have to have something to say.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:27 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Depending on the circumstances, I might respond that it's incredibly effective for charming my family members into the sack.
posted by ambient2 at 11:15 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone without an amusing accent, but who has always stuck out because of looking foreign, I can only attest how incredibly tiresome wellmeaning teasing can be if it happens again. And again. And again. And again.**
Yes, for you it might be gentle teasing. For the person on the other end it's the same bloody joke for the fourth time this week. Of which she is the butt.
I understand that someone on the other end of this gentle ribbing might decide that they are no longer interested in helping the person who made the joke derive joy and validation from it, just to be a good sport. And if the person is in the habit of teasing people in a wellmeaning fashion, it might be educational for them to find out that not everyone reacts well to all kinds of ribbing.

**You might interject that poking fun at someone's foreign looks is different from poking fun at their accents. Within the context of the society I grew up in, it wasn't. People did it with the same intent and I received it in the same understanding - thank God people's sensibilities have changed.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:49 PM on March 28, 2010


I'd say, "well, Mr Durand, who teaches English phonetics and phonology in France, has identified a set of vowels that I use as perfect samples of a variety of English which can be encountered in some boroughs of - name of your hometown - , Virginia."

Incidentally, Mr Durand, who exists, has studied in Glasgow, has taught in California, and is currently working on an atlas of The English Language.
He insists on the fact that if there are many of varieties of spoken English, there is no variety that possesses all the possibilities of all the varieties. So even a variety that could make you smiling has its own inner unique resources and beauties.

As with any other language - or even cognitive field I guess - it's just a matter of culture to actually be able to relish the beauties that are to be found in slight variations.
posted by nicolin at 4:23 AM on March 29, 2010


"Bless your heart," I learned from 2 years each in Kentucky and Alabama, does NOT mean "thank you" or anything close to that. It means "you poor thing."

There is a world of freighted nuance in that phrase. There are a host of meanings, from pleasant to aggressively hostile.

I have an Appalachian accent which many years away from home has not eradicated. People think it's just precious to laugh at the way I speak, or deliberately to misunderstand things I say for comedic value. They are stupid, and I suggest you do as I do and just look at them coldly without speaking until they fumble an apology.
posted by winna at 5:56 AM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


In response to "You sound like a hick" (eww!), how about "You sound like your mother taught you no manners." ?
posted by medeine at 11:04 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


"bless your heart" can mean a multitude of things, depending how used, to include thank you or "what an idiot."

My mom will occasionally whip out a "fuck you very much," which she says quickly with a very big and sincere smile.
posted by norm at 1:15 PM on March 29, 2010


Take a line from Kathy Bates on The Office and say, "thanks, I've been working on it all my life."
posted by citywolf at 8:05 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you speak any foreign languages fluently (as many people with accent do), just state:

"Oh, I'm so sorry for my terrible English, could we speak German, French or Hungarian instead?"

DB
posted by Doggiebreath at 4:01 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


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