Hey Y’all!

ImageI moved to Raleigh from Chicago (suburbs) nearly 3 years ago now. I’ll never forget the first time my wife and I went shopping at Home Depot and Walmart. Two things surprised us:

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.


4 thoughts on “Hey Y’all!

  1. Imagine moving from London to North Carolina. *That* was a bit of an adjustment.

    Speaking of checkouts, I’ve noticed all coffee shops – whether independent shop or Starbucks will be slow. Even fast food is slow here. Time it seems, is of no real concern in the Southeastern US.

    But the locals are very friendly and kind; and this by far more than makes up for the patience required to live here.

    Kind regards,

  2. When I left Virginia and first moved to San Diego people actually asked me if I was “slow”. Worked really hard on losing the accent except when talking to my parents back east.

    There is nothing like the sound of the slow North Carolina drawl asking “Get you some more coffee, Hun?”.

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