Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Texas Accents Among Other Accents

When I first watched and listened to the Super Viral Susan Boyle YouTube video (if you have not seen this, stop reading this blog now and go watch it) I thought it was interesting how Susan spoke in such a thick Scottish accent that she was a tad hard for my American ears to understand. And then she started singing and the accent went bye-bye and the voice of an angel appeared in its place.

And then, after she was done singing and the audience calmed down enough for the judges to speak, I was struck by how different the English accent is, when well-spoken, from the more flourish-free American accent of Americans from some regions of America, like the Pacific Northwest.

Some versions of the English Accent, as spoken in the UK, are very easy to listen to. Is it called High English? I don't know. But it is easy to understand, unlike Cockney English, which can be funny to hear, but hard to understand.

Now, there are some regions of America with strong accents. Like Brooklyn. Or Boston. Or the South.

There are many variations of Southern Accents. Wikipedia has an interesting article on the subject. Even within a specific Southern Accent there are variations, like different types of Texas Accents.

There is an extreme version of the Texan Accent that I really have trouble understanding, almost as bad as Boomhower on King of the Hill. And then there is the lilting, warm honey Texas Accent that I can never get enough of listening to.

Gar the Texan is from the Midland-Odessa West Texas zone, same as where George W. Bush grew up. They have similar Texas accents, though Gar the Texan's can ebb strong and weak, particularly strong if he is having a case of the vapors. Gar the Texan is very articulate. When he uses polysyllabic words he pronounces them correctly, and thus sounds Texan and smart. With an accent.

Now, George W. Bush is not the most articulate man on the planet. When George W. pronounces a polysyllabic word he often gets it wrong. Such as when he tries to say "nuclear." I think the Texas Accent, combined with the mispronouncing, may have been part of what caused many to perceive George W. as not the brightest light ever to glow in the White House.

There are a lot of versions of English accents. I find the Canadian version very unpleasant. I think this may be partly caused by having lived most of my life near the border, with access to Canadian TV and plenty of Canadians. The Canadian Accent has this way of sounding as if they are inflecting everything they say with a self-doubting tone, even without adding "eh" to the end of virtually every sentence. It comes across, to my ears, as sounding insecure and unsure about what they are saying.

Some English Accents are so easy to listen to, like Australian. How does one accent variant end up sounding Australian and another Canadian? Canadians live mostly within 200 miles of America. Why have we not rubbed off on them more in this department? Well, to be fair, which is not my long suit, some Canadians do lose the annoying accent when they become American actors, like Michael J. Fox.

I find the Hybrid-English Accents very easy to listen to. Like Italian-English, they sound so charming. I can't think of any of the hybrids that don't sound like music to me. Russian-English, good thing. I like the Mexican-English Accent. Or any Spanish Speaking-English Accent, for that matter. Middle Eastern-English Accents sound good, with plenty of variations. Indian-English, as in the nation, not the Native Americans, can sound a bit insecure, like Canadian Accent, but the lilting, sing songy way of speaking Indian-English is quite pleasant to listen to.

As for Native American-English, it comes in a lot of versions. I have heard all sorts of Indian-American accents and have liked them all. Very easy to listen to. I once spent an hour talking to a Navajo at Monument Valley in Arizona. I can still remember his soft easy Navajo-American Accent. A lot of Native Americans pretty much lose any accent. That is particularly the case with a lot of Pacific Northwest Native Americans.

Why are there so many Indians and Indian Reservation Lands in Washington and so few in Texas? What did you Texans do with all the Indians?

Okay, I have started to digress. Time to stop talking about accents.


Ginny said...

Mostly, they were killed and evicted, although there is one tribe left in east Texas near the Big Thicket. There may be a tribe near El Paso, but that one is a little iffy. Sad. The reason there is one left in the east is that Sam Houston protected them.

A.Jean said...

Haven't been to your blog in a while. I love this post and I too, am intriqued by accents. In particular I love the Dutch-English accent. Probably, because of my heritage. When I here a Dutch woman speak, I immediately get some of those warm fuzzy feelings and I remember when my Gramma spoke to me.

Durango said...

A.Jean---Thanks for reminding me I'm half Dutch! I totally forgot the Dutch-American accent. I can clearly remember my great-grandma's Dutch accent. Among others I used to hear when in Lynden.