“A Dialect Dialectic” on The Bitter Southerner

A piece I wrote on the meaning of a Southern accent and how mine has changed over time is up at The Bitter Southerner as part of the Folklore Project. I’m excited to have my work appear in a publication whose mission–to tell the stories of the South in order to make it a better place–I believe in.

Here’s how my piece starts:

Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, I never thought much about being Southern. I groused with everyone else at the no-shoes and cousin-lover jokes on late night TV and grimaced at Nicolas Cage’s grating try at a Southern accent, but that was about it. Dressin’ was dressin’, pens were “pins,” Mississippi was home, and I couldn’t imagine anything different.

Not that I always fit in perfectly. One summer in my early teens, my family drove down to Biloxi, where my younger siblings and I spent the first day of vacation getting badly sunburned off Ship Island. The next day, while my brother and sister stayed at the hotel basking in aloe and cable television, I braved the pain to go with my parents to the Ohr Museum and afterward to a café, where the latticed wrought-iron chairs dug into my lobster-red legs.

“Can I have a soda, please?” I asked the lady behind the counter.

Her eyebrows lifted. “You mean a coke, sweetie? What kind of coke?” She took my money. “You must be from up North.”

I was pretty sure she didn’t mean Jackson.

Read the rest here.

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