I was reminded today of the myriad of pronouncements that we make when we speak. Not the least of them declares from where we hale from. Whether it be from the backwaters of an isolated peninsula or the broad reaches of the plains or of the mountainous regions that only the hardy dare explore, each of us speaks in a certain and deliberate manner of our home region.
The moment we open our mouths we have declared more than our words. We have set down and put forth our background, breeding, and lineage. From the most northern of heights into Maine to the Mid-Atlantic arena to the warmth of Georgia our words and backgrounds spew forth. From the upper mid-west to tornado alley our accent says more than our words. And from the most northern reaches into Washington state traveling down and scooping up Californians down to the Mexican border we all have something to say—and we all say it well.
Anything from your home area sounds different. It's suddenly an 'accent' and not something met with warmth but with curiosity or a guarded suspicious. If they are not like you, well, then they are something else. "They" being the operative word here.
To most others "we" become "they" and we wonder over it. When we watch TV we don't wonder, we simply accept. Those in front of the cameras have been well schooled and tutored to lose whatever home accent they may have once had. If the voice falls hard upon the public's ear, it won't be heard often before being banished forever.
Your own voice is a gift. How we use it often we don't consider. We open our mouths and we speak. What comes out we hope is communication but along with that communication we transmit more than we realize.
To a fine ear, it bespeaks your background, locale, heritage, and social standing. And if your speech is garbled and filled with slang, you will be identified and socially shunned from the more elite of society. It only takes one word or perhaps three and then the heavy accent won't help you either. You may be admired and have some standing in your local community but once you open your mouth outside that hometown place, you mark yourself as dunce, a 'good-old-boy' without the brains a good sneeze would rid you of, or someone so far removed from simple graces that others will shy away from you.
I grew up and knew only "The Shore" in my life. "The Shore" meaning the Eastern Shore of Maryland, something a previous governor of this state once dubbed the "outhouse of Maryland" and once said not one of us ever forgot nor forgave.
Many people here know only how to work the land or the water. It is there livelihood and succor. It is all they know. They work hard and strive to provide to their families—but they still 'talk funny.' So like areas in 'Charm City' that also talk funny yet are offered much in the way of self-improvement and light and hope. So it is across all of America.
It is not just a vocabulary you must know and learn. It is your speech, your cadence of words, and not that joyous lilting of voice. Your identity is not solely in your speech though others will mark you for it.
I have to admit I'm not just "from the 'Shore" for I could have moved here when I was a kid, but my family on both sides go way back; my father's family from the 1640's. You can't get much older than that in America. And still we don't "Shore-speak." Over the last fifteen years I've come to realize that I don't speak as others do. It was the stalwart and continual reminders from my mother that taught us differently. We were to speak and comport as she deemed fit—and nothing less.
So, you will met and greet others and wonder. Some of us you will wonder about for we aren't exactly what you'd think us. We are not all backwards, some are well read, and some of us don't sound like you'd expect. But likely you'd welcome us more if we did.
How is it that you sound? Have you given any thought to your own vernacular and speech patterns? Does what and how you say the words define you? It shouldn't but it will.
This is your thought for today. We are a funny lot of folks we. Consider tomorrow and new adventures in strangers not yet met. It could be another wonder. At least that's what I've found.