A few words about…words.

Spoken words, that is. Or rather, the way I speak words.

I like to joke that I have “the accent with no home.” I grew up JUST close enough to Chicago to develop a really obnoxious Chicago treatment of vowels. I also grew up too far out of the city to avoid rural twangs like the occasional “y’all” as well as phrases like, “fixin’ ta” and “I reckon.” Essentially, I grew up where the Chicago accent and the rural Midwestern accent merge into an awkward (pronounces OCK-wurd)…something. (I promise people with “true” Chicago accents do NOT talk about manure or livestock breeding nearly as often as I do.)

Yeah, it’s something. And it always serves as an interesting conversation piece.

This is a real life conversation.

Person: “Kelly, you confuse me.”

Me: “…why?”

Person: “Because you talk like you’re from Boston and use words like y’all and reckon.”

Me: “I think you mean Chicago. Not Boston.”

Person: “Yeah…whatever.”

I mentioned this to my best friend, Kourtney. I frequently refer to Kourtney as my soulmate, and “my lobster” (playing off of the FRIENDS joke where Phoebe tells everyone that lobsters mate for life and walk under the sea holding each other’s lobster claws). Pretty much, no one knows my heart, soul, spirit, pain, and hopes quite like Kourtney does. We also share a love of red wine, shoes (both of us love Chuck Taylors, she prefers heels where I go for cowgirl boots), and eating breakfast food at strange times of the day. Not only does Kourtney “get” me — she also has a pretty similar (and equally obnoxious) accent.

Kourtney and Kelly at Graduation

Kourtney and I on our high school graduation day. I’m not sure why I thought have bleach blonde hair and a REALLY dark tan was a good idea…but, Kourtney loved me anyways.

My Illinoisan friends laughed at the fact that anyone could think I sounded like a Bostonian. My response was, “It’s probably because Chicagoland accents also screw up most vowels. Except, we know how to pronounce our r’s.”

Kourtney, who wears her accent like a badge of honor, even when her husband gives both of us guff about it, responded with, “We do not screw up vowels, we just simply love them so much we pronounce them loud and proud!”

It’s true.

I love Kourtney’s perspective on things like this.

And, for the record, there’s no such thing as a “lack of accent.” I mean, once upon a time I thought Kourtney and I didn’t have accents. Everyone who spoke differently than us had an accent, though. (Moving to California and speaking to high schoolers who ask you, “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!” will change that illusion VERY quickly.)

And in all of my travels, and dealing with people who have accents, or ask about my accent, I’ve realized this:

Regardless of where you’re from or how you pronounce your vowels, just about everyone laughs when you tell them your full-time job is tweeting about manure and bull semen.


9 thoughts on “A few words about…words.

  1. I don’t have an accent. I am in the heart of the USA – where all accents go to disappear and meld into one glorious stream of speech 🙂


  2. I feel your pain. I have always had one foot in the city and the other in the country, and I can easily slip back and forth both in accent and in conversation. I’m from West “By God” Virginia, but I grew up watching too much TV and entrenched in the Mid-Ohio Valley around Parkersburg and Marietta, so I was exposed to the best and worst of both worlds. In retrospect, it’s kinda awesome, ya’ll.

  3. If I could only count the times I’ve been told there is no way I am from CA. People think I’m from the Midwest or South because of my “accent”. Which always cracks me up. Nope, pretty much mostly raised in Northern rural California, and have had a ton of other “accents” to grow up around. Plus, it probably doesn’t help that I’m a mimicker. Get me on the phone with my Granma for a few minutes and all the sudden my I,O, and U’s are coming out like the good South Dakota girl I was born.

    • HAHA! I can understand the mimicking. I mean, when I was in undergrad, the “country” part of my accent diminished greatly. Then I’d go home for break and come back with more “twang” than I’d had when I left. I’m a little worried I’ll lose the accent part of my identity, living down here in Missouri! Whew!

      • I had a guy I worked with from South Carolina argue with me on the pronouncement of “keg” because he thought I was saying “cake” and then kept looking at me like I was lying about being from CA. He swore I was from somewhere South. It was pretty funny.

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