Jul 29 2014
08:48 am

The KNS reports that ORNL ditched a plan to offer a "Southern Accent Reduction" class for employees because some staff members were offended. The class description said "Feel confident in a meeting when you need to speak with a more neutral American accent, and be remembered for what you say and not how you say it."

OK, then.

gonzone's picture

Hilarious! It doesn't matter


It doesn't matter what or how much you know if you cannot communicate it effectively, you'ns!

redmondkr's picture

I have a friend who is an

I have a friend who is an after-hours travel agent for corporate travelers. Call their toll-free number after 6:00 PM Eastern and you get her, or one of her colleagues. She actually enhances her already thick drawl when she answers that phone.

"Would yew just hold for me a moment while I bring up your information? Thank Yeeew!"

reform4's picture

What's ironic...

.. is that ORNL / Y-12 used to draw minds from all around the country, and Tennesseans who worked tended to lose their accent working around people from Chicago, California, New Mexico, Washington, etc. You can tell who in my family worked at the "bomb factory" and who didn't by the way they talk.

Now, they're not the national draw of talent, so the accents have taken over. I suspect the internal motivation was the perception that they might not be as respected as their colleagues at Los Alamos, Fermilab, etc.

But if your accent is the thing you think that is most humiliating about being from Tennessee, you haven't been paying attention to the crap coming out of the Governor's office and the Legislature in Nashville....

CE Petro's picture

And Yet

It was an employee that requested the class.

Gotta wonder how thick the accents are getting...

Rachel's picture

I like accents, and I'll keep

I like accents, and I'll keep mine, thank you very much. (Although as I've noted elsewhere, east Tennessee accents are NOT southern.)

It's a shame we have to homogenize speech as well as damn near everything else.

R. Neal's picture

Although as I've noted

Although as I've noted elsewhere, east Tennessee accents are NOT southern.

I was at an IBM seminar in Philadelphia about 30 years ago with people from all over. During a break some guy asked me if I was from southern Appalachia. Apparently, he knew the difference. Or maybe it was the overalls and moonshine jug that gave me away.

The Mrs. says I have lost a lot of my accent after living in Florida and working with people from all over the world. (I think I slip back into it from time to time after being back for a while.)

But, I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of. In fact, it can be an advantage. Especially if people mistakenly perceive you as an ignorant hick. Ask Cas Walker. Or Cordell Hull. Etc.

Pam Strickland's picture

A friend of mine noted a few

A friend of mine noted a few years ago that I tend to wear my Southernness with pride. I couldn't disagree. I do tend to clean up my accent when talking to outsiders, but I don't hesitate to throw out a regional saying if it fits.

Rachel's picture

My Oregon-raised spouse

My Oregon-raised spouse thinks "y'all" is the most useful term ever - differentiates the second person plural from the second person singular.

I have a fondness for "I reckon." In two words how else can you express both "I suppose" and "I have thought about this and reached this conclusion? Spouse likes it too.

However, the first time he heard me say somebody was on something "like a duck on a junebug" I got a really weird look.

SnM's picture

"Reach me the salt"

I don't think one need be ashamed of an accent. But I also think it's better to know than to not know that dropping gs and ds and stretching vowels and using y'alls and you'uns an' ain't 'n' so furth 'n' sech lack ain't standard Ainglesh.

And I think the class offered an opportunity to learn the difference and to be empowered to raise or lower one's diction as the occasion warrants. After all, it wasn't imposed by management, but rather, offered in response to an employee.

And then there's the notion that if people live in the United States, they should learn to speak real English, or else! ...but, guess if people live in Muricuh, they gonna talk Muricun.

Rachel's picture

I've never said "ain't" (or

I've never said "ain't" (or "you'uns") in my life - except in jest - but I refuse to give up "y'all" because somebody might think using it makes me a hick.

Their loss.

Pam Strickland's picture

Code Switching is the

Code Switching is the official name for it when you change your diction depending on who you're with. It's fascinating to study and more people do it than they realize.

SnM's picture

I wasn't aware anyone was

I wasn't aware anyone was forcing you to give it up.

Min's picture

The rain in Spain falls

The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain.

gonzone's picture

Enunciate, enunciate,

Enunciate, enunciate, enunciate, articulate, articulate, articulate, communicate.

WhitesCreek's picture

OK, look...It's NOT the

OK, look...It's NOT the accent! It's the grammar! Yall haven't went no where... Yall went some where.

It is NOT "that don't mean nothing"...It's ...well...some of you know what it means and some of you don't. I love all of you, but I want some of you representing the South more than some others of you.

Ok, then..

KC's picture

People from here can't

People from here can't believe I've lived my entire life here (after I was born on a mountaintop, of course).
I'm told I sound "neutral," but a friend's sister from Northern California did say she heard an accent when I said words like "right, light" and other words with an high "I" vowel. But no it's not Southern. I call it "country."

Rachel's picture

I used to have a good friend

I used to have a good friend from D.C. She used to make me say "bright white light" for her amusement. :)

bizgrrl's picture

I'm a little surprised

I'm a little surprised someone with a college education needs this kind of help. The person requesting the class should have had plenty of opportunity to study different accents and adapt while in college and working at ORNL.

Even locally there are different accents and terms. The beauty of any college town is the diversity. It should be embraced.

Up Goose Creek's picture


We know it was an employee who requested the class but was it an employee who wanted to work on their own accent or one who didn't want to listen to the accents of their local peers?

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