Everyone has an accent, regardless of whether they were born in the Midwest, South or New York City. Each region has its own accent, and some are more noticeable than others. In the deep south of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, natives speak with a characteristic drawl that gives the words spoken a slower cadence. Negative stereotypes often associate the languid pace of southern speech with unintelligent behaviour, but the drawl has more to do with rhythm and measured tempo, according to an article by the BBC. Learning how to speak with a deep southern drawl of the Old South requires training your mind and tongue to speak familiar words in a new way.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Identify the type of Southern accent you want to learn. Different parts of the South have their own regional accents, slang, and speech patterns that could make learning a new accent difficult if blurred together. Social class also influences how someone speaks, so learning the accent of a Southern aristocrat would be different from learning the accent of someone from the rural south.
Expose yourself to the chosen accent as much as possible, so you can begin to pick up speech patterns, tone, cadence and rhythm of the dialect. Using CDs and videos of someone speaking with a southern accent can help train your ear to recognise how certain words are said with that accent. Practice mimicking what you hear on the CDs to get a better understanding of how to speak with the accent.
Find someone with whom you can practice using your Southern accent. CDs and videos cannot cover every word you may use in conversation, so expanding your vocabulary requires using your accent in a-free flowing conversation. The more you practice using your accent, the better it will become.
Record yourself using the accent, and listen to the recordings to pick out where your accent falters in conversation. If you determine you have difficulties with certain vowels, words or expressions, work on strengthening those aspects of speech. Recording yourself speaking with an accent will also allow you to determine how much progress you have made from your first conversation to the latest.
Speak with your accent when talking with strangers at gas stations, grocery stores and other places people don't know you, when you feel ready. Take a little longer engaging clerks in small talk than usual to get as much practice as possible. If the clerks ask where you are from, take that as an encouraging sign about the progress of your accent.
Tips and warnings
- There are many books and CDs that teach actors how to speak with a wide variety of accents that can be purchased online.
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