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October 17, 2010


I grew up in the Deep South, and I think I probably had the accent to prove it for most of my childhood. And then, somewhere in my teen years (I’m guessing), as I began to travel a bit and meet people from different parts of the world, I started picking up some of my dad’s more neutral Midwestern speak.

These days, having traveled the US more extensively and worked in a business environment for all of my adult life, I think I have a pretty neutral lilt. In the Deep South, some folks have even accused me of being a Yankee! Of course the real test is when I’m in NYC, and there most folks guess me from the Midwest.

Now y’all don’t get me wrong…I love the sound a beautiful Southern drawl…and I don’t want to come across as trying to be someone I’m not…but I try to enunciate with the best of ‘em. Like it or not, I think it’s important in the business climate.

My hubby, on the other hand, is from Former Yugoslavia. Having moved here as a teen, his grammar is near-perfect, but he still has a noticeable accent. (And that might just be a tiny part of what drew me to him in the first place!)

I’ve long thought it will be interesting to watch our girls’ speech patterns develop...

Will they sound “Southern”, and maybe show me that I’m not as “neutral” as I think?

Will they pick up on a couple of their daddy’s little quirks? (My favorite is his pronunciation of all the vowels in the word “August”, as in “A-oo-gust”.) :)

Or will their twin-speak overpower their environmental influences?

As the girls are really beginning to talk these days, I can finally step back and make some initial assessments…and I think it’s a mixed bag. I don’t know how much of their speech is normal toddler-speak, and how much may be influenced by their multi-regional / multi-national environment.

First, the girls both drag out “hey” for several extra syllables. I’ll fess up to this being my fault…I really exaggerated this word as a telephone greeting, thinking it was easier (at the time) than them trying to say “hi” or “hello”. It’s pretty darn cute, though, especially as my friendly Baby A likes to shout “Heeeyaaaayy!” to all passersby, as well as a lot of inanimate objects.

We jump across the pond at the girls’ pronunciation of “good”, which comes across as clearly German. Could it be that Uncle Djura’s visit last fall had such a profound effect on them???

And lastly, I present “coffee”. The girls give a beautiful nod to their Slavic heritage in saying, “kofe!” Maybe all those Russian nursery rhymes they’ve been hearing are actually sinking into their psyche.

I know only time will tell…but in the meantime it’s interesting to speculate…and so much fun to listen to their sweet little baby voices figuring out how to put it all together.


Marcia (123 blog) said...

Oh, I love different accents.

I had my session with a blog coach this week and first thing she says (from the US) is "oh, your accent is so beautiful".

I said, "it's just because it's different" :)

But yes, I love other accents too - especially SOUTHERN ones.

Can we have an audio clip on your blog?

P.S. I'm only half joking!

Quadmama said...

One of my daughters for the last year has exhibited an East coast/Boston accent ("Kaw-fee," etc). Hubby and I are from the midwest, my girls have only lived in the midwest and the west. Where she picked this up I have no idea. Our speech therapist insists this is fairly common in preschoolers and usually disappears by age 6... but for now it's pretty funny.

reanbean said...

My step-brother grew up in Alabama and has a deep southern accent. His wife grew up on Long Island in NY, and they're raising their daughter in Virginia. She had some pretty interesting pronunciations when she was little, but now (at age 12) she sounds like someone with just a very mild southern accent.

Tiny used to say "day-uh-dee" for daddy and "mommay" for mommy, but now is clearly saying mommy and daddy the way my midwestern ears are used to hearing them. My BIL has a bit of a Boston accent, and I wonder if my kids will pick up a bit of that accent since we're not that far outside of the city. I suppose only time will tell.

Mandy said...

I'm anxious just to get the girls talking! I have started to truely develop a "Baltimore" accent which I am loathing. I very much hope the girls do not pick up my "wuter"'s, "warsher"'s and "Hon's"!!

Deanna said...

A & M are definitely my little southern belles. Mackenzie says 'paeee-peee' for pee-pee and has a very long heeeeeeyyyyy. Oh, and her grandmother is 'NiNi' which comes out all sorts of drawled out.

I'm with Marcia...we should do video clips to see how everyone talks! I'd love to hear her SA accent!

MultipleMum said...

How cute! Missed this post yesterday. They are so easily influenced at that age.

Although mine only have an Australian accent in their home (both the Geege and I are Aussie born and bred), my eldest boy sounded like Dora the Explorer with her 'cant' instead of our 'carnt' for awhile.

And then Doo Dah has a penchant for Ben 10's 'oh man!.

You just do not know how they are going to turn out. I look forward to hearing more about Baby A and B's language journey.