Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Are You Smaht?

After yesterday's heady upheaval, I think it's time to get back to the real world.

Now some of you may know, I am originally from Rhode Island, which means I talk funny. Some days I sound like Ted Kennedy, others I sound like Fran Drescher, without the annoying laugh. I now live in North Carolina. They talk funny down here. I joke with my one friend, (because she's originally from California and didn't move here until she was 15), that I can't understand what some people are saying, "I can't understand Southern." I also can't understand, French, Italian, or Urdu either. And because I am who I am, I'll talk to a rock. I love to talk, get me on the phone just to say hi, I'll keep you on it for 3 hours. But how frustrating is it, to be in your own country and not be able to carry on a conversation, or get directions, or find out what day the trash goes out.

When I lived in Nevada I ran into sort of the same thing. My friends (I had more than one there) would make me say, "We pahk the cah in the yahd at the mahket." over and over again. They laughed, they thought it was funny. I also used to say Ne-vah-da. It's not pronounced that way, it's pronounced, Ne-va-da. Same with Oregon. I used to say Or-eh-gahn. Boy howdy did they let me have it on that. It's pronounced Or-i-gginn.

Funny how the way I speak seems to garner different results from people I've met. The people in Nevada made good-natured fun of me, but didn't think of me in any way other than I was a nice person, and a good friend, you know the usual stuff people think of you. I had a lot of friends in Nevada. (Some I still have 12 years later.) The people in North Carolina think I'm a snob and too smart for them, which lends to the fact I only have one friend here. Honest. The other mommies in school won't talk to me because they say I'm too smaht. I scare them. HUH?

Now, please let me reassure you, I am averagely intelligent. There are people I've met in real life, and people I've met here through the blog who are infinitely so much more brilliant than I. Words fall from their mouths (or on screens) that I have to look up and say, "Wow man, where did you learn that word?" Sometimes I wonder if they were raised on Greek and Latin tomes, Mommy read the Illiad to them at night instead of Goodnight Moon. I am in awe of these people. Because I thought I was smaht.

I have a bachelor's degree. I read the classics. I read trash, I read current fiction, I read newspapers, I read the New Yorker. I read a lot. Does that make me smaht? I don't know. I'd read a few blogs yesterday and decided I was not so smaht,
especially for people not to talk to me.

Let me ask you this -- do people not talk to you because they think you're smarter than they are? Do you not talk to people because you think they're smarter than you?


Nicole Ducleroir said...

Ooh! I can relate on so many levels. I, too, live in the South (GA), but I was born and raised in upstate NY. When I first moved here, I couldn't understand what Georgians said half the time. Besides the accent, they use terms I'd never heard of. For example, the first warm day of spring, my new neighbor asked me if I'd "cut on the air." It sounded like [cuhton th'yhair]. Another time, I asked someone where I could buy a pad to go under a tablecloth. She said, "Well now, you used-to could find 'em at the Walmart." Oh, and my favorite: one day after saying good-bye to a friend in the grocery store, I doubled back to produce to grab something I'd forgotten. When I saw the friend again, she said, "Are you still here? I thought you got gone already!"

When I hear this kind of drawled distortion of the English language, I admit I feel a smidgeon smarter than the speaker, in that moment! LOL

Fun post!!

Falen said...

i live in MN, so i get the MN accent comment quite a bit (damn you Fargo!) from my co-workers who live in FL.
I don't discriminate based on intelligence, either with people who are not as smart as me, or people who are smarter. In general, though, most of my closest friends are of equal intelligence.
As for the smart bloggers, i don't know how much of it is actual high level intelligence vs just spending a lot of time on each blog post. I'm too lazy for that, so we get half-assed intelligence and pictures on my blog ;D

Piedmont Writer said...

Nicole -- Oh I hear you loud and clear from the holla' over to here. It's funny how the language is so bastardized from region to region. In Massachusetts they warsh their laundry. In RI, we wahsh it. I really like the fact they don't have supermarkets down here either. I had to ask the mail-lady where she went to the supermahket and she said, "Well, we have a Costco and a Sam's." I just meant a regular in-town grocery.

Sarah -- I don't generally discriminate either, I just seem to find it so hard to talk to people who don't understand me. Eh? And I don't think your blogs are half-assed, they're fun and funny and real, written by a real person.

Dominique said...

I would never stop talking to someone just because they were smarter than I am. Actually, there are few things I enjoy more than listen to people intelligently discuss things they're passionate about. (I'm not kidding. I once listened to a guy talk for half an hour about cars, and I don't care about cars. But he was enthusiastic, knew what he was talking about, and didn't mind questions.)

My dad actually did read the Illiad to my siblings and I at night. (In hindsight, maybe that's why I went through a tall boots phase. Wouldn't want to leave an exposed ankle and get shot with an arrow.) But I don't think it contributed to my strangeness. My parents just believed we could grasp a lot of books as long as they explained the complex points and hard words. Treat kids smart, and they'll get smart.

Falen said...

My mom used to read us Stephen King at night.
Ahh good times, even with nightmares from The Mangler

Julie said...

Its funny that you posted about being from RI because I was just reding this short story and the narrator said a character sounded like they were from New Jersey and I went "Oh, crap!" because I've been writing a novel with characters in NJ and didn't even think about them "Talkin funny" and whether or not I should add that to the dialgue.

Piedmont Writer said...

Dominique -- God I've tried 6 different ways to respond to your comment and I can't find the words without sounding like I'm insulting you, and that's not what I want to do, and I know if I say what I want to say, that's what it will sound like on the computer screen. So I'll just say, I went through a tall boots phase too. Still have them in the back of the closet too.

Piedmont Writer said...

Sarah A. -- Stephen King when you were a kid? Hmmm....I can't even read Stephen King as an adult.

Julie -- I think the only phrase you might have to insert into your dialogue from Jersey is "Not for nothin'..." We say this in RI too.

sarahjayne smythe said...

It's funny, because I talk to people all day long for a living, and even though there are a number of regional dialects and accents around here, I generally don't mark them.

I'm from the Midwest, but when I lived in NYC people told me I sounded like a native New Yorker. When I lived in Virginia, people knew I was not a local. And I never really felt comfortable there, not like when I was in New York.

Either way, I don't think I discriminate on the basis of dialect or accent. And it's kind of cool to listen to people from all over since it really is good for you when you try to write dialogue.

Piedmont Writer said...

Sarah Jayne -- When I'm up north, it's funny, people usually peg me from Boston, when I'm out west, they say New York, here in NC they say "Not from around here, that's for sure."

I like listening to accents too, and have a pretty good ear, it's just that when the drawl is soooo drawling, it's hard to understand people.

Kristi Faith said...

LOL Hilarious post. :) Dahling My mother dated a man from Boston and he had a thick accent, but I could listen to him for hours.

I don't judge a person's intelligence by their accents...I've been fooled too many times in the South for that. :0) I have been told that people think I'm a "snob" before getting to know me. :( Which is so far from the truth it's not fair. :0)

Piedmont Writer said...

Kristi -- I hear you. I WISH I could be snob. Like I said, I could carry on a conversation with a rock for hours. As long as I can talk, I don't care who listens.

LOLOL I haven't heard Dahling in soooo long.