Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Alpha Belles

Several days a week, I work out during my lunch break at a downtown church/gym. If I show up at noon, I'm guaranteed to encounter a bunch of women I call the Alpha Belles. The Alpha Belles go to step aerobics, and they speak in loud, exaggerated Southern accents. As in: Ah cayant believe how hawrd that cla-yass wuz today-ee!

(My friend H. also pointed out that they have conversations about things like "purple peas.")

Look, I grew up in South Georgia, so I'm used to accents. At best, a Southern accent can be mellifluous and romantic. At worst, it sounds like something between bleating and braying. The Alpha Belles have the kind of former-mean-girl accents that take me back to my junior high locker room. For some reason, the most popular girls at my school had accents so thick that I occasionally wondered if they were kidding. It was especially unfortunate that Valley speak was all the rage at the time. Gayag me with a spoon!

I suspect that's partly to blame for my barely perceptible accent, which only my Yankee friends can hear. I must have purposely submerged it, the way some people make up a new identity after leaving home. Upon hearing where I grew up, one colleague demanded, "So where's your accent? You sound Midwestern to me."

It's just one of those things about the South that I'm weird about. I can criticize it because it's mine, but I don't want to hear from any Northerners about how we talk funny.

11 comments:

downtown guy said...

Ha, I get told all the time that I sound "country as hell".

EDP said...

But see, I doubt that would bother me. I think there's just something extra-grating about these particular women. They are quite ... precious.

downtown guy said...

Oh, I know what you mean. Are these the same grown women who still call their dad "Daddy"?

refinnej63 said...

Don't you think there is a correlation between amount of accent and educational level?

downtown guy said...

Not in my experience.

EDP said...

Having grown up in this neck of the woods, I'd have to say no. You know how people assume the British are smarter because they sound posh by comparison? I think it's the same with accents. There's a certain kind of Southern accent that is like music to the ears.

Zil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zil said...

One of the best things I have ever heard on the subject was this episode (http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=138) of This American Life (act 3, Drawl, although the whole ep is great) It talks about how there are different southern accents and movies always get them wrong. You can listen to it free online at the link above.

downtown guy said...

No doubt about that - see: Steel Magnolias.

Zil said...

That is actually one of the examples in the story

downtown guy said...

Makes sense, because it's an obvious one. You've got a half dozen women who are supposed to have grown up in the same small town pretty much all together, and not a one of them sounds like the other. Tennessee is not north Georgia is not Texas.