The South’s Gonna Do It Again

A few days ago I ran into an old friend, an historian, who started in on the Partisan. “I’ve lived all my life in the South,” he grumbled, “but I don’t see what makes Southern life so wonderful that you and your friends want to impose it on the rest of the country.” I did my best to reassure him that nothing was further from our intention than any form of standardization—whether making the South like New England or vice-versa. He seemed somewhat mollified. Still, his remark set me to thinking about the great gulf between educated Southerners (like my friend the historian) and those plain folks we have learned to despise as rednecks, grits, and crackers.

We are in a period of time, when most affluent and educated Southern people have come to identify their interests with members of their own class in the Northeast and California, instead of with their region. They are, by and large, proud of urbanization (still more of suburbanization), commercial culture, and the values of liberation which characterize life in Atlanta and its Northern originals. Among such people, it is a race to see who can give up the most first (a reversal of “First with the Most” Forrest’s strategy): collards are replaced by spinach and mushroom salad, Country Music by Rod Stewart and Paul Simon (if you’re under 40), Wayne Newton (if you’re older), and regional dialects by a way of speaking that resembles a cross between Dan Rather and a California car salesman. A very decent businessman confessed to me recently that he hated to hear his own voice on a tape (sounded like a cracker) and always preferred to hire an actor with a “neutral accent” for any promotions.

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11 Responses to The South’s Gonna Do It Again

  1. Xoph says:

    what the article seems to miss is that places like Atlanta aren’t the South. I live outside of Atlanta and grew up in Arkansas. I’ve been here for 14 years and met 5 people born in Atlanta, it is a town of immigrants, mostly Yankees. Get 60 miles away from the center of town, out of the suburbs and you can again start finding the South.

    Not saying carpet baggers are still a problem, but….

  2. Jerry Tribble says:

    To me the different is wanting free stuff and working for stuff. Texas is becoming a state of wanting stuff slowly. reminds of the 50’s when political came to town with free sausage biscuits and syrup on election day.

  3. Winston Smith says:

    Goddamn but that Julia is full of shit.

    Wanna play Guess the Race with Julia? Cause that’s the only ones that will believe that shit she is spouting.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Actually, Julia’s not the author, she’s the one that sent it in and she’s an elderly white woman with a damned good head on her shoulders.

  4. Uncletex says:

    You don’t know what ya got til its gone.

  5. Da Dumb Okie from Little Dixie says:

    The southern way of life will never be fully assimilated. Like a previous poster stated,
    “You get a few miles out of (any) big city” and there are people of the same spirit who originally settled this part of the country, in many ways not unlike the revolutionists of 100 years prior who fled the imposition of the will of others. We have a different way of doing things and we like it that way….

  6. Gnome Sane says:

    I wish Alabama would elect Congressmen who didn’t sound like Gone With the Wind slave owners. I’ve never met anyone with that goofy accent and have lived here 58 years. And they claim to be educated.

    • Jeffery in Alabama says:

      I am a seventh generation Alabamian and my folks do not speak like a plantation owner from “Gone With the Wind”. That is because Alabama, like Mississippi and Georgia, is primarily divided into two main dialects. These are the “mountain” and the “planters” dialect. In Alabama, the mountain dialect is primarily spoken from app. 40 miles north of Montgomery north to the Tennesee state line (and even farther north than that in pockets) and the planters dialect is from that line south.The “mountain” dialect, while distinctly different and still very “Southern” to most of America, is spoken considerably faster than the “planter” dialect. Words come out in an almost “choppy” manner where some words and phrases are barely enunciated. Farther south words like war are drawn out and pronounced as “Waaha” much like lines from the movie “Gone With the Wind”. The two dialects are distinct and have always interested me. Even within those two main dialects often times local “brodes” are spoken. Where I live (in the northern part of the state) distinct words from Scotts/Irish roots are still spoken. A good example is the word my grannies and great aunts used to describe something which was spoiled or ruined and stank. They would say it had “karned”. We still use it today. The meaning comes from app. the 16th century Scottinsh pronunciation of the term describing Carrion Crows of the Bible which fed upon rotten carcasses. Carrion equates to “karned”. Another old word is still used is holpe. While it is not used as much today, one still hears the word “holped” from older folks meaning “I helped”. This is a middle English word that was a carry over from the old country to the hills of Appalachia.

      Many of the old ways and words are fading quickly. The South, like much of America has lost it’s identity via the WalMart culture (as I call it) and through welfare/socilaist programs which have helped destroy the nucleus of the family and family traditions including the way we speak. Still, pockets of Southern culture can still be found in remote areas and metro areas too. Some of the families contained therein are still very Southern. Most of the major cities in the South (i.e. Nashville, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Birmingham, Mogadishu on the Mississippi aka Memphis) have become “hives” for socialist programs and many of the once Souhern cities with specific industries such Huntsville, AL with it’s aerospace program and military base are very “multi-cultural” with folks from all over the U.S. and much of the developed world. Larger once very Southern cities like Nashville and Atlanta are barely more Southern than St. Louis or Indianapolis.

      God Save The South!

    • brazos says:

      I am originally from Fort Payne, Alabama and have a hillbilly accent I guess, I know that north and south Alabama have different accents, but most Alabamans don’t have that syrupy accent you hear in movies about the south. Butpeople in some areas of the south have that type of speech. There are different accents all over the south…..Virginia, south Georgia .coon asses in Louisiana, Texas….Carolinas.. I can tell were in the south most people are from by their accents..

      • Jeffery in Alabama says:

        Indeed Brazos. I’m on the opposite side of the state due west in Winston County. As most pioneer folks settled in what became Alabama, the majority of them followed the same migratory path down through the Carolinas, via Georgia and across Lookout and Sand Mountains. Most folks born and bred here speak like natives of Dekalb, Cherokee, Jackson, etc. I’ve got people from my mother and daddy’s families buried on Sand Mtn.

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