1. We knew there would be Southern accents around here, but we didn’t expect them to be as pronounced as we found.
2. We were surprised by how talkative and friendly people seemed (and slow to move the checkout line along while they chatted).
Perhaps we were a little impatient from having been in the fast moving suburbs of Chicago for the past 13 years. And perhaps our Northern dialects sounded equally as pronounced to the folks around here (although, Raleigh has become a destination for many, and I hear many with very strong Long Island accents). Nowadays when I listen to my father-in-law talk (born and raised in Chicago), he sounds like a Bears Superfan. This makes me wonder if my ears for what is and isn’t an accent is changing. Just the other day I spoke with an old friend–a guy I haven’t talked to in probably 10 years. One of the first things he said to me was, “When did you start talking all Southern?”
Today I found this article (2 years old now) that notes that the Southern accent around Raleigh is diminishing. I find this a little unfortunate, as I really love the mellow and friendly sound of it. The accent here may be losing its prominence–Different people, depending on where in the region they grew up and when they arrived, have it to varying degrees. People who raised in the towns outside of Raleigh (Bunn, Clayton, Youngsville) have very strong accents. People who grew up inside of Raleigh don’t have it near as much–or at least I don’t hear it as much as I used to. And this is the funny thing–I don’t hear the accent that much anymore. I don’t really think about it. I’ve started saying “y’all” myself, and I’ve stopped using the word “pop” when ordering a soda (at least, I don’t use it nearly as much). I suppose movies and TV do a fair amount to perpetuate the negative connotations sometimes associated with the Southern accent. To be certain, I’ve met some brilliant people who speak with very strong accents.