Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Talk like an Egyptian

I was well into my first year of college before I realized that Midwesterners have A Sound. It was probably about the time a girl from Wisconsin, who sounded like she was from Wisconsin, accused me of sounding like I was from Michigan (which I am). 

Imagine Chicago, if you will: nasal, elliptical vowels. Reduce it by thirty percent, and you have my speech pattern. Or, if you'd prefer to hear a good example, witness my (deeply in denial) homegirl Madonna:

Try as she might, Ms. Ciccone can't mask the fact that she grew up in southeastern Michigan. You can hear it most blatantly in the way she says learn and burn, but also in hide and, to a lesser extent, bruise and lose. This is also how I form words.

I grew accustomed to the sound of my own voice during my youth. I was aware, after trips to Boston, Charlotte, and elsewhere, that not everyone in the United States has the same speech patterns. I just never thought of my patterns as being especially strong.

Nowadays, I laugh at myself when I hear werd and maahm come out of my mouth, because they are the two strongest indications of my background. And I'm glad to have a distinct verbal mode that ties me to my home state, which I miss often.

So here's to all the boys and girls out there whose mouths will always remind them of their roots.


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