Sunday, October 20, 2013

Midwest accent

Excepting for my first 8 years, I have lived in Michigan all my life. For the most part, I speak like the people around me. And it seems to me that national broadcasters speak with a similar accent. Now I share a bed (when I am not having insomnia) with someone who insists I don't speak correctly. His Brooklyn accent is not obvious until he says something like

Florida Orange ( I make all the 'o's long as they SHOULD be, he doesn't)
And I also make the words merry, Mary and marry all sound alike whereas he says each word differently.

When I was 14 or 15, I went on my first trip all by myself to visit my penpal in a steel town just south of Pittsburgh. I had met her on a family vacation in Florida when I was 12 and we corresponded faithfully after that.
Her family (especially her mom) bent over backwards to entertain me taking me to Kennywood, some old school waterpark along the Youghiogheny, a  family picnic, tours of Pittsburgh, etc. The steelmills were in full operation then blackening the sky even during the day. About ten years later when I was visiting Soulmate in Pittsburgh where he was a med student, they were mostly shut down.

But the visit wasn't that much fun. She had blossomed into some beauty queen who spent most of her wakening hours baton twirling (she was a majorette) and entertaining her new boyfriend. Their PDAs made me uncomfortable and envious. Also she and her friends made fun of my accent, which I was unaware that I had.
 I did think they had one.
What are you'ins going to do?
You-ins? You-uns?
I know the South has you all or yawl depending on what part for second person plural expressions. Later Steve's father would say 'you people' but here we don't address that so much and just hope no misunderstandings arise. We just seem to use the all purpose 'you' .  Italians have 4 different 'yous' depending on formality and plurality.

But the thing that amused them the most was my improper pronunciation of short vowel sounds, notably 'o'. Her new boyfriend's name was Tom. I would say "tahm'. They would say something like "toom' (long o).
Now that I've been on this earth for a while and met many people from all over, I do realize how grating some find our pronunciations.

I guess we both figured we didn't have much in common. I am not sure we even wrote to each other much after that though I had her senior photo (very pretty).

Last June, I did my bike ride starting in Pittsburgh. I hadn't been there since Soulmate had left. We went along the Monongahela until the point that the Youghiogheny flowed into it. Then along the Yough until the last day. ( Youghiogheny means river that flows backwards in some language, should have known that we were in for steady hill climbs as we were going against the northward flow). Her town was where the confluence of those two rivers are. We rode through the shuttered steel mills (ugly), past Kennywood, through her town (on very hard times) and then onto coal mining country, also over there). We were on an old coal train route. We probably went by the waterpark. I forgot its name. I should have asked Rash Sister, who grew up in Pittsburgh or even Soulmate might know though he lived 100 miles away.

 Anyway, the first day reminded me of my long ago trip and my pen pal. What had happened to her? What was the chance she didn't get married right out of high school and thus unsearchable. I googled her name. No hits but she was going by a 'diminutive name' such as Sue. I googled her probable name. BINGO, a hit. Only it was an obituary (Oh no!) but looking further, it was of a 90+ woman, her mom (the very nice lady). Penpal's new name was within. She was on Facebook but it appeared that she rarely used it. I messaged her and heard nothing until a few days ago. She said that her husband (Toooom) had remembered me (they had just started dating) implying that she hadn't and caught me up with a few things in her life. So mystery solved. Maybe she will remember the waterpark.

Cold, cold cold but it is warming to semi-tolerable levels. The plan is to ride to Josh's house and have Steve drive me back. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do like accents. What a boring country this would be if we didnt have the variations in speech. While at college, a girl commented on how my friends and I pronounced certain words, theatre was one. Kris


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