Monday, June 18, 2012

The Virginia Accent

The biggest problem - and it's not really a problem, just a severe annoyance - with living in Canada is that everyone notices my slight southern twang. I mean EVERYONE. Because of my anxiety disorder, I dislike drawing attention to myself, but as soon as I open my mouth, I catch it.

I get everything from "what a cute little accent!" to "you're definitely not from around here, are you?", "Oh, you're American??", "Wow, you're the only smart American I've ever met!", followed promptly by a delighted imitation of my speech, a chuckle, a stare as though I'm an unwelcome visitor, or (and this is the most common), an insult about the USA and Americans. Anything to try and rile me up.

This is the opposite of what I used to get in Virginia. Down there, no one ever heard a southern accent in my words, but instead they thought I was straight from the north! This displeased some people, because there's a general Yankee-hating attitude around where I lived. I'd get a lot of comments on it. One time, one of my coworkers even said, "We're working on getting that northern poison out of her blood!". Eek!

I understand that the USA has a lot of idiotic people and idiotic politicians. I don't try to pretend that the country I come from is in any way perfect. It's far from it! But really, what do people expect me to say when they come up to me, knowing I'm from the US, and openly dole out insults?

Really, it's no different from me insulting the homeland or countrymen of any immigrant, whether they're from Italy, or Russia, or India, or the Philippines, or Ireland, or anywhere in the world. It's incredibly rude. It's one thing if you know a person well and can lightly joke with them, but complete strangers? It doesn't matter if I'm from the country that everyone hates. That's just not a good excuse.

I realized that I've been trying my hardest to "get rid of" my accent, so that people wouldn't notice it any more and would think me as just another Canadian. But I see how silly this is. I may have been born in western New York, but I lived most of my life in north-central Kentucky and southwest Virginia. My slight accent is my voice seasoned with memories, living, and loving.

I'm a northern girl at heart, always have been, and now I will be for the rest of my life. Yes, according to some, I'm just redneck trailer trash, a stupid American, etc. But who I am doesn't matter but to those who matter to me.

One day I shall conquer the north with sweet tea and biscuits & gravy!

So there, eh?


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