So you wanna talk like a Southerner? And why wouldn't you? Nobody can resist that sexy, languid drawl. It's like butter slowly meltin' on Texas Toast. But just because you weren't born south of the Mason Dixon line, doesn't mean you can't "alright alright alright" your way into everyone's hearts. So grab a tall, cold glass of sweet tea and get ready to learn how you, too, can talk like a gen-u-WINE Southerner.
Fixin' to Watch Some Netflix
First, you need to get the sound of the South in your ears. Luckily, there are hours and hours of study material available just a click and a screen away. With classic films like "Gone with the Wind" and "To Kill a Mockingbird," and modern-day favorites like "Forrest Gump" and "Sweet Home Alabama" to choose from, you'll be drawin' out your vowels and droppin' your g's in no time.
Well, I Do Declare!
Now let's talk about something mightily important. The difference between the genteel Southern lady accent and the redneck accent. If you really want to talk like a Southerner, you need to decide between the two because mixing them up will gain you the disdain of all Southerners. "So what's the difference?" you might be asking. Big. There's a big difference. Think "Steel Magnolias" versus "Sling Blade." If you picture yourself sippin' mint juleps with the most fabulous of Kentucky Derby hats cheering on the ponies, you're "Steel Magnolias" all the way. But if you're thinking business in the front, party in the back mullets while inhaling NASCAR exhaust from the top of your RV with an ice cold Bud in your hand, you're aimin' for more of a Jeff Foxworthy/"Blue Collar Comedy" sound.
Hold Yer Horses
So you've picked your preferred Southern accent and studied the appropriate materials. But before you run around blessing everyone's hearts, you need to get in a Southern state of mind. When you first start out, the words may not feel right in your mouth. No problem. First of all you need to relax your jaw. And then imagine yourself sitting under the shade of the front porch on a scorching hot and humid summer day sipping a refreshing glass of lemonade. Ever wonder why Southerners draw out their words? It's cause it's so gosh dang hot. And that kind of heat will slow anyone down. But you'd be wrong to think Southerners are slow because they speak slowly. Those in the South have learned to savor every single syllable.
Everybody knows down south how much better it is to say "y'all" instead of "you all" or "you guys." It's efficient and effective. (And let's be honest, it just sounds better.) But that's not the only phrase Southerners have combined into a single word to get their points across.
- Jeet? Translation: "Did you eat?"
- S'coeet. Translation: "Let's go eat."
- Duddenit. Translation: "Doesn't it?"
- Iddenit. Translation: "Isn't it?"
- Younguns. Translation: "Young people"
Hey There, Honey Bun
Now, pet names aren't unique to the South, but calling everyone you know (and many you don't) by one is. And often those sweet terms of endearments are typically sweet treats. It could be as simple as "honey" to pretty much any dessert you can think of:
- Honey pie
- Sweet pea
- Honey bee
- Baby cakes
Now Don't Get All Caddywompus On Me
Knowing the lexicon of the South will earn you a heapin' lot of brownie points. Just keep these handy tips in mind:
- When someone asks for a Coke, ask them what kind because all sodas are Coke down south.
- When it's time to skedaddle, you need to be ready to take off quick.
- If someone asks you "How do?" at the local honey-tonk (a bar/country club), they want to know how you are doing.
- And don't go getting all ornery with anyone's kinfolk. Nobody likes it when someone isn't treating their family well.
Practicing a Good Southern Drawl
If you're planning a trip to the South and want to fit in or you just love the sound of the good Southern drawl, start trying some words and phrases. With a little practice, you can nail down a perfect Matthew McConaughey accent in no time.