Ain’t Nothin’ But a G Thang
As a Southerner, I am acutely aware of what the kings of New England, that is to say damn Yankees, think of our pronunciation. But as is the case with most things, the damn Yankees are
ignorant misguided. As Charles C.W. Cooke explains:
Southerners are truer to “original” English voicing than are their G-happy Northern counterparts. . . Historically, writes Barbara Strang in ’A History of English’, “the more ‘correct’ pronunciation [i.e., the pronunciation of Gs], as it was considered, was in reality an innovation, based upon the spelling.” That is to say that Southerners who are speakin’ instead of speaking are “correct” — insofar as anybody can be right or wrong linguistically — and, by contrast, educated types who disparage the loss of the G are “incorrect” to do so, their admonishments serving only as invitations further to change the very language that they are attempting to preserve.
Of course, not everything deserves to be preserved, but ax youself if you really want a world in which the edifice is wholly rended, where we loose all our uh-plick-uh-bul foundations. Language is a bulwark and we of Scots-Irish descent are the primal elements. We’re the born portcullis. While early SWPLs were busy assimilatin’ along the coasts, we were busy retainin’ our distinct cultural background.
But why is the Southern accent different? Simplistically: From 1717 up to the eve of the War of Independence, Scots-Irish from the northern and western parts of Britain moved to America, helping to populate the South. Ultimately, most of these immigrants followed the rivers, setting up home along their paths. As the University of Pennsylvania’s John Fought has argued, the consequence of this was that the inland South was filled by immigrants who extended their manner of speaking “beyond the Mississippi to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and beyond . . . taking Inland Southern down the major rivers.” As they moved away from the coasts, the accents and modes of speech that these immigrants brought with them were incubated and preserved in the new country.
In other words, while early Fabian one-worlders were playin’ footsie, we remained men apart — resilient, strong, gun-totin’, whiskey lovin’ men.
Perhaps it is time for us to rise again, to stand up and pimp slap the effete rulin’ elite and their mispronunciations, to remind the country that grits are delicious, to bring a heavy sack of lead balls and a strong musket to a diversity trainin’ and say, “You wanted diversity, quislin’, well now you got it. “