Friday, July 6, 2007

It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say It

Folks talk different all over.

Me, for example. I have a Southern accent. Comes from being from the South.

There's lots of folks I know that ain't from around these parts that talk with a Northern accent. Only, the thing is, they don't think they got an accent. They do.

There's certain parts of the country that talk a certain way.

Watch the Travel Channel or some other basic cable fare that features somebody from Maine. You can tell it by the way they talk.

Same thing for someone from Minnesota. Or Boston. Or New York. And so on.

In fact, just about every part of the country has it's own way of saying things.

And the same goes true for the South.

Folks in Alabama have a way of talking. The accent is pretty much the same as folks from the western part of Georgia. But they'll use a word a little different ... or pronounce it different.

Georgia, it seems to me, has a variety of accents. Southeast Georgia has a way of talking that's a little different than, say, South Georgia or North Georgia.

But, it seems at times, the accents are going away. Folks from other parts move in and bring their own way of talking, and the distinct ways of saying words goes away.

One thing that really is noticeable, though, is the way certain names ... or names of things ... are pronounced.

For example, in the middle of Georgia is Houston County.

Now, if you're not from Georgia, you probably pronounced it "HEWS-tun." You'd be wrong.

It's "HOWS-tun." Not "HOWZ-tun" but "HOWS-tun." As if were spelled House-ton.

Why do they pronounced it that way? I don't know. Beats me.

But it was named for John Houston, who was a member of the Continental Congress and was Governor from 1778-1784.

And he predates Sam Houston, for whom the city in Texas was named. Sam Houston wasn't even born until 1793. So John Houston (HOWS-tun) predates Sam Houston (HEWS-tun) by several years.

So, which is correct?

It depends on where you are.

Then, there's the name "Jordan." I bet you pronounced it "JOR-dun," didn't you. Yeah, me too.

But there are folks around there with that last name, and they pronounce it "JER-din." Like Hamilton Jordan (JER-din), who was Chief of Staff for Jimmy Carter.

There used to be a fellow on the radio around here that pronounced Michael Jordan (JOR-dun) as "JER-din." His name was "Ray from Milwaukee," and I assume he was from Milwaukee. Why he pronounced Jordan (JOR-dun) as JER-din, I'll never know.

Now, there's lots of folks named Jordan (JER-din) in West and Southwest Georgia. And that's how they pronounce it. But not everyone in Georgia pronounce it that way. I've know some folks named Jordan my whole life and they pronounce it "JOR-dun." Go figure.

Which is correct? Depends on where you are.

But in Southwest Georgia is a town called Albany. How do you pronounce that?

Some say "ALL-buh-nee," which has the accent on the first syllable. Some say "all-BAN-ee," which is pretty much the same, but with the accent on the second syllable. Some call it "all-BEN-ee," which is a variation of the second pronounciation.

Which is correct? Depends on where you are.

And how about "pecan?"

Some say "puh-KAHN," which has accent on the soft second syllable. Some say "puh-KAN," which has the accent on the hard second syllable. And some say "PEE-kan," which has the accent on the first syllable and a hard second syllable. Merriam-Webster gives all three. And I've even heard "PEE-kahn," which has the accent on the first syllable, and a soft second syllable.

I've heard PEE-kan much more in Southeast Georgia than in West Georgia. Most in West Georgia say puh-KAHN. And the Dairy Queen commercial says puh-KAN.

Which is right? I don't know. And I don't care. I'm heading to the Dairy Queen for one of those waffle treats with soft serve and pecans.


  1. I remember saying Houston the "wrong" way when first arriving in Georgia with my first Husband. I know how to say "Jordon" from Columbus correctly, because of my job, but I still mess up --

    Pecan or Pecon .... depends if its in a can on on something ;)

  2. You should hear Gov Riley's wife doing a PAL commercial--she sounds like Minnie Mouse with an extreme southern accent! I mute it everytime!

  3. Never understood the Jerrdan thing, as in Jerdan Hair Stadium. Never heard anyone talk about basketball star Michael Jerrdan.

  4. My first husband lived in the boonies in upstate New York, and there was a nearby town, Campbell. You think they called it Campbell like the soup? Nope, it was like Camp Bell. I laughed the first time I heard it, thinking the person who said it was just stupid!
    My second (ex) husband is from Erie, PA, and there's a Millcreek around there. Not MillcrEEK, MillCRICK. Or rather, "milk-rick." That one really drove me crazy, but I think that's because people from Erie are just ignorant buffoons. It's the center of the White Trash Universe.


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