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December 29, 2008 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me find authentic examples of a Southern Illinois dialect?

I'm looking for a few good examples of that mild-to-moderately twangy Southern Illinois dialect that I recall (vaguely) from a few childhood summers spent in and around our lower Land of Lincoln. Can anyone recommend any media examples [youtube would be ideal, but anything Netflix-able would be equally appreciated] of authentic-sounding Southern Illinois accents?
posted by applemeat to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe try the search function over at the Speech Accent Archives?
posted by jedrek at 9:32 AM on December 29, 2008


Country singers Suzy Bogguss (she talks around 4:00 in) and Gretchen Wilson are both from southern Illinois.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:33 AM on December 29, 2008


I spent the first twenty years of my life in Southern Illinois, and I don't have the faintest trace of an accent. Neither did anybody I knew. As far as I know, pretty much everybody there speaks perfectly neutral TV broadcaster English.
posted by EarBucket at 9:41 AM on December 29, 2008


As far as I know, pretty much everybody there speaks perfectly neutral TV broadcaster English.

I know you believe you have no accent much like my relavices across the Wabash from you believe, but the word oil and oral do not rhyme, neither do fire and far.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:45 AM on December 29, 2008


relavices is supposed to be relatives if you couldn't figure that out. (I couldn't).
posted by Pollomacho at 9:46 AM on December 29, 2008


I know you believe you have no accent much like my relavices across the Wabash from you believe, but the word oil and oral do not rhyme, neither do fire and far.

I've literally never met anyone who pronounces those words that way.
posted by EarBucket at 9:49 AM on December 29, 2008


'Course, I grew up on the other side of the state, over near the Mississippi, so that could be it.
posted by EarBucket at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2008


This and this are both Southern Illinoisans.
posted by EarBucket at 10:00 AM on December 29, 2008


Not quite you tube, but I presume you know about "buck-up creek" (Beaucoup), "ver-sails" (Versailles), "el dor-ay-do" (El Dorado) and, of course, "kay-ro" (Cairo)? Farther north, there's Aythens and New BER-lin.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:14 AM on December 29, 2008


My grandmother would say that she got oral and tar on her shirt after changing a flat tar driving to the far tar (oil and tar on her shirt after changing a flat tire driving to the fire tower). She lived in Pike and Gibson Counties, IN and had no speech impediment.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:30 AM on December 29, 2008


The documentary Stevie (by Steve James, of Hoop Dreams) is not only excellent, but is all about poor white people in Southern Illinois. Netflix has it.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2008


There are factors that play in the heaviness of the accent.
*rural versus urban (by urban, I mean a town with more than 2,000 people).
*education level/socioeconomics. My mom was raised in a white-collar house. The only word she says with an accent is "warsh". My dad was in a blue-collar house and neighborhood, and he says a lot more things in an accent.
*generation. My parents and their siblings say some things accented, my grandparents said more. There's even a little difference between my mom's oldest sister, and her youngest brother. I sometimes catch myself sounding 'midwestern' but it's mostly when I use sayings like "dumb as a sack of hammers" or "rode hard and put away wet" than saying "warsh", "carn", or my Dad's favorite " tarlit" (that's toilet to the rest of us). So basically, the accent is going to be harder to come by.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:02 AM on December 29, 2008


I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and there was definitely a difference in the accent of people who lived in Champaign, not even as far south as you can go.

You can listen to the Carbondale City Council sessions here.

Also, they don't say "Kay-ro" so much as "Care-oh."
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:07 AM on December 29, 2008


'Course, I grew up on the other side of the state, over near the Mississippi, so that could be it.

Go visit Effingham sometime. You'll hear a very pronounced Southern Illinois accent from most people you meet.
posted by limeonaire at 11:41 AM on December 29, 2008


Southern Illinois' accent, generalizing, is the characteristic "Western" accent. A little Texas, a little Tennessee, a little Alabama.

Actually, if you watch Reno911, Deputy Junior's accent is fairly southern midwestern.

True story- I know two brothers, twins actually, from southern IL. One sounds like a country and western singer, the other like a surfer. As others have said, with so much exposure to so many other parts of the world, accent is almost a lifestyle choice these days.
posted by gjc at 5:21 PM on December 29, 2008


I don't have the faintest trace of an accent. Neither did anybody I knew.

Don't most people believe this about themselves and their neighbors? ;)
posted by Pax at 6:59 AM on December 30, 2008


Don't most people believe this about themselves and their neighbors? ;)

Well, no, they don't. I'm something of a dialect specialist, and there are very specific American accents in the South, the Northeast, the Midlands, in Minnesota, in California, etc. Where I grew up in Randolph County, we spoke North Midland. No twang, no drawl.

Now, in the far southeastern part of the state, down by the Ohio river, it's not surprising that you'll hear South Midland. But where I was from, people spoke as close to General American as I've heard anywhere.
posted by EarBucket at 7:19 AM on December 30, 2008


Thanks all, I appreciate the input and hope that people continue to contribute. Also, I apologize that the wording of my question may have conveyed that all Southern Illinoisans have a twangy accent. I know that they don’t.

Jedrek: Thanks for the introduction to the Speech Accent Archives. Although there are currently no Southern Illinois samples---we Chicagolanders, true to our “F.I.B.” style (a little in-joke for any Cheeseheads reading) hog up all of Illinois’ sample entries-- It’s a neat resource that I had not heard of.

Supersquirrel: Thanks for the music links (and for the introduction to two artists I have been meaning to check out).

Earbucket: See my apology above. And yes, there are some native Illinoisans with Hee-Haw accents. Also--this is sincere curiosity, not snark----what makes you a dialect specialist?

Pollomacho: Now you’re talkin’! Your grandmother’s dialect sounds like what I am remembering.

Stupidsextflanders: Thanks for the “Stevie” recommendation…am waiting for that red envelope in today’s mail.

Otherworldlyglow: Those City council sessions are a great resource that I had not thought of. (I tried a few downstate local newscasts—which was an idiotic strategy, as speaking like the proverbial 5-o-clock news is an essential career requirement for most newscasters.)

gjc & green eyed monster: I think you're right that dialect variety (and--I fear--word choice variety and the size and richness of the English lexicon) may be dying off as a result of modern technologies.

Pax: I’ve lived all over America and agree with you that people, in general, do NOT think that they have an accent. (....Which would make sense, because few people would consciously chose to affect an accent?) My Chicago-native family makes plurals out of singular nouns and pronounces "ALMOND" without the "L" --And they deny having an accent.
posted by applemeat at 8:59 AM on December 30, 2008


See my apology above. And yes, there are some native Illinoisans with Hee-Haw accents.

No problem--I think I may have come off more combative than I meant to, and I apologize if that's the case. Anyhow, I think, like I said, that the accent is probably a function of proximity to the Ohio river, which is about where you go from a neutral North Midlands to a twangier South Midlands throughout the Midwest.

Also--this is sincere curiosity, not snark----what makes you a dialect specialist?

I'm a character actor, and I've always had a really good ear for accents and dialects, and an interest in people's speech patterns. I like listening to plain old speech as much as I enjoy music.
posted by EarBucket at 9:22 AM on December 30, 2008


Perhaps accents are like garlic breath; You never think that you've got it. ;-)
posted by applemeat at 9:24 AM on December 30, 2008


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