My Husband and I recently attended parent’s weekend at my daughters college. We took my daughter out for non-dorm meals, went to a concert at the Kennedy Center, and attended a collegiate football game. As we sat in the stands, the man behind my husband said to him
“You from Brooklyn?
After my husband replied yes, they played the six degrees of Brooklyn thing- which high school, which deli, which bowling alley, etc. At one point the guy said to him
“Look at us. Did you ever think guys like us would have kids at a school like this?”
When we ran into him at the elevator of our hotel the next morning (right? what are the chances?) he said to me “How did you guys meet? You’re certainly not from the neighborhood?”
To answer that question, my husband and I actually met on a tennis court. I am not as well educated as my husband, but I have a pretty flat accent that screams Northeast quadrant, but can’t actually be placed. My husband has two graduate degrees, and is an executive in a large company. But he still looks and sounds like the blue collar neighborhood that he grew up in.
Do we make judgements about people based on their regional accent and dialect?
When I discussed grammar the other day, a few people responded that there is a certain bias towards certain areas of the country due to how they speak. People might hear a thick Southern accent and think something along the lines of, OMG, is that banjo’s I hear? If you ever watched “Gilligan’s Island” you probably remember the ‘Locust Valley Lockjaw’ way that the Howell’s spoke, and assumed that was the tone of the rich. My friend hated “Green Book” because she couldn’t stand the accent that Viggo Mortenson used because it made him sound classless.
What about the American love of British accents? There was an episode of “Frasier” where Roz meets Daphne’s brother. (Daphne is British). Roz exclaims “Doesn’t he sound so classy?” because of the accent, even though the content of his exchange is anything but. I know I hear a British accent and I swoon and assume whatever they’re selling is better than what I have…
I grew up on Lon Gisland, a suburb of New York City. Many of you know it as Long Island, but you wouldn’t know that from the way many of us speak. I admit, I have spent years taming my accent so that I would not immediately sound as if I grew up going to the Roosevelt Field Mall…
Are we elitist towards certain groups of people based solely on the way that they speak? Do we think the regional accent of some is superior or inferior to our own?