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Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

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Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by Katiedot on Mon Oct 01 2012, 12:43

Ok, we all know he probably never had a strong accent anyway, but I thought this was a cute article.

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Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts?

Published: September 30, 2012

By Cheryl Truman Herald-Leader


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Lately I have spent a fair amount of time fretting about actress Jennifer Lawrence's Kentucky accent. Much has been made of how her commonwealth lilt has served her as she strode the screen field-stripping a squirrel in Winter's Bone and growing into a warrior in The Hunger Games. But for grown-up roles, it's time to develop a more metro tone, like you might hear out of the golden gullet of a Kate Winslet or Tilda Swinton.

Lawrence left the state young, as did fellow Kentuckians Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and George Clooney. You won't catch them a-hollerin' about Mamaw and Papaw unless it's Oscar season or a Coen brothers vehicle.

What is a Kentucky accent, anyway? And how does being from here affect one's vocabulary?I spent a chunk of a day listening to the "accent tag" channel on YouTube, which is addictive. It compels participants to pronounce a list of words, including pecan, oil and pajamas, then poses a list of questions to answer:
■ What do you call gym shoes? ■ What do you call a carbonated beverage? ■ How do you address a group of people? What do you call your grandparents? ■ What's the name of the bug that curls into a ball when you touch it? ■ What's the name of the wheeled contraption that you put groceries in at the supermarket? ■ What do you call it when the sun is shining when it's raining? ■ What's the thing you use to change the TV channel?

I had no idea that some New Yorkers called their shopping carts "wagons." Who knew that Texans called their remote control a "clicker"? New Yorkers and Texans would collapse in merriment at hearing that I called my grandparents "Mamaw" and "Papaw," because that would signal my Southern tobacco road backwardness, and not in a psychologically complicated Faulkner way.

YouTube might be more about group sourcing, but there's also more solid academic work on accents and regionalism. The International Dialects of English Archive attempts to gather a sampling of residents of each state reading similar words.

Listen to the variety of Kentucky accents, and you'll swear some of us are really from Texas, Long Island, New Jersey or Maine. We don't sound a thing alike.Mass culture has standardized much of the language, first in the 1930s with radio networks adopting a standard pronunciation called "General English," "Standard American" or "Broadcast English" — essentially an educated Midwest or Chicago dialect.

As television took hold in the '60s, children were constantly exposed to more homogenized language and to accents as markers of social class. The Clampetts of The Beverly Hillbillies were considered trash with cash, while the hyper-educated Miss Jane was an object of snark. Bewitched's Samantha Stevens and That Girl's Ann Marie had the right touch of urban perk.

Still, regional pronunciations sometimes peek out, ironically courtesy of cable television's glut of reality shows: On the Pittsburgh-based Dance Moms, they rattle on about their daughters' "cosh-tumes," and hapless Hoosier Teen Mom Amber's legal troubles land her in "gel."

For those of us in Kentucky, the key accent question might be: What do you call those little round soft sausages that come in a can? If you've ever popped out a sleeve of saltines with a can of "Vi-EEN-ies," call yourself a Kentuckian and eat proud.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by melbert on Mon Oct 01 2012, 13:23

In the Clooney Clan, I've only heard Nicky and Allison with accents. Nick, Nina, Ada and George - no accents.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by pattygirl on Mon Oct 01 2012, 13:31

Have a granddaughter, now 24, migrated to KY when she was 14. Born and raised to that point in NJ. Didn't have KY accent when she went there but has one now. She stayed on when my son and family moved back to NJ about 6 yrs. ago, was in college, UK, and is now there teaching. Grandson, who was only 7 when they moved there and never gained KY accent. Go figure.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by silly girl on Mon Oct 01 2012, 13:33

It is a funny thing about accents and what we call things. Apparently no one thought my Mother was from Brooklyn because she had a very proper accent....yet her sister did. I remember when my brother graduated from college in OH and I asked someone for a "soda" and they laughed at me and asked if I meant "pop".

I think maybe GC didn't have much of an accent because his parents didn't. After all NC was a broadcaster ---who learn to speak precisely and a show biz family and his Mom was a beauty queen. I imagine she had elocution lessons too.

Interesting article and a fun read.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by MM on Mon Oct 01 2012, 13:37

Nicky and Allison grew up in the Hebron/Burlington area, where it is semi-rural, and everybody talks country. Nick, Nina, Ada, and George grew up in the urban parts of Kentucky and Ohio, where there is no country accent. I grew up in a working-class suburb in north Cincinnati, where some of my neighbors spoke with a Kentucky-ish accent, because they came from Kentucky to seek a better life in Cincinnati.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by cindigirl on Mon Oct 01 2012, 14:16

I think you adopt your accent from your surroundings. I really like George's accent and often wondered how hard he worked to attain that. I'm originally from northern Jersey and consequently said "wata", 'docta', etc. instead ot the normal way of speaking. Since I'm in central NJ I've adopted a more lucerative way of speaking. My way of fitting into my surroundings. LOL

My daughter, although born here has somewhat of a New York accent, saying axed instead of asked. My ex of course has an accent that would pinpoint him as one of the Mafia group.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by Maggy on Mon Oct 01 2012, 14:53

I love G's accent. Very nice.

Cindi, I think a Mafia accent is cute lol!

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by MM on Mon Oct 01 2012, 15:09

If you watch George's earlier TV appearances, you will notice that in "Streethawk," he speaks with a suburban Cincinnati accent. When he was on "Roseanne," he also talked with a suburban Cincinnati accent, only heavier.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by traone on Mon Oct 01 2012, 15:34

When I listen to G speak, I don't hear an accent. Maybe it's just me, coming from N.C. We have southern accents! But I do agree that Nick doesn't have one either. But, I can say from a professional point of view, and agreeing with silly girl, that when you are "on, and speaking as a professional" you do drop your southern accent, and all the: ain't got no, he/she don't, etc....you get the picture. You even go to the extreme to not saying combined words: doesn't/turns to does not, couldn't/ to could not, etc. just so that people listening to you do not get confused.(I know this sounds silly to some of you, but believe me, in the south, it can make a difference).
I had to do it in my career(as an office coordinator). Which would then backfire sometimes because then our patients would sometimes think that I was a complete "snob", and would tell me so , until they met me face to face, when they came into the office and met me! Lol

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by traone on Mon Oct 01 2012, 15:38

And just another little addition, my friends would call me at work, and every time they called, they never recognized my voice! Ha-ha...that shows that I was always speaking differently every time I answered the phone. Lol

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by Joanna on Mon Oct 01 2012, 17:46

Try listening to yourself by playing back the tape when dictating letters to an audio typist.
It was an an eyeopener the first time I did that ! lol!

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by Katiedot on Mon Oct 01 2012, 18:30

It's really scary listening to your own voice.

I remember George put on a Kentucky accent for O Brother Where Art Thou. As we all know, he got his uncle jack to record the script for him on tape. Can any of you locals tell me if that was a genuine KY accent?

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by Maggy on Mon Oct 01 2012, 18:38

Joanna wrote:Try listening to yourself by playing back the tape when dictating letters to an audio typist.
It was an an eyeopener the first time I did that ! lol!
It was for me too. I can't believe how thick my accent is. I was always told that I had one, but I never believed it till I heard myself speaking. Scary affraid

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by MM on Mon Oct 01 2012, 20:05

Katiedot wrote:It's really scary listening to your own voice.

I remember George put on a Kentucky accent for O Brother Where Art Thou. As we all know, he got his uncle jack to record the script for him on tape. Can any of you locals tell me if that was a genuine KY accent?

Yes, Katie, that is the real deal. If you go to Maysville/Augusta area, you will find most of the locals talk exactly the same way. Nick does not speak like that because he grew up in Cincinnati, and later, he became a newscaster, a job that does not appreciate regional accents.

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

Post by cindigirl on Mon Oct 01 2012, 20:46

Maggy wrote:Cindi, I think a Mafia accent is cute lol!

Yes Maggy, bodda bing, bodda boom. LOL Cool

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Re: Uncommonwealth: Do y'all talk like yur from these parts? What happened to George Clooney's Kentucky accent?

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