Examples Of Regional Dialects During The Civil War?

Wisteria

Cadet
Joined
Jun 17, 2021
My sister attended a college in South Carolina some 35 years ago, and one of her roommates, who came from a rural area, asked if anyone had a goah baan. My sister from Philadelphia had no idea what she was asking for, until one of the other girls handed the first girl a gauze band.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I had an interesting chat with the actor Michael York. He was in Nashville to do a Shakespeare reading with the Nashville Symphony. I asked him about the fact that the back holler East Tennessee accent was Shakespeare’s. I asked him if he would ever attempt to do a performance in that accent. A resounding no was his response. He said that there are some places in Britain where our hill billy accent is alive & well. He went on & on, it was something he is very interested in.

Some time ago, I attended a recital of Shakespeare’s poetry in the original voice. It was fascinating. The cadence was profoundly different from the BBC accent we are accustomed to.

There is no such thing as the Southern accent. Charleston, New Orleans, Sea Islands, Virginia & mountain folk all speak with distinct voices. It is one of life’s great joys.

A college friend became a very successful TV & stage actor. Early on he was in a show where the cast of native New Yorkers spoke in very affected Southern accents. My friend had to work with a dialect coach so that he would sound like them. When he objected, the coach educated him. The audience was from New York, if he spoke in his natural patrician upper class planter drawl nobody would understand him.
 
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Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
I had an interesting chat with the actor Michael York. He was in Nashville to do a Shakespeare reading with the Nashville Symphony. I asked him about the fact that the back holler East Tennessee accent was Shakespeare’s. I asked him if he would ever attempt to do a performance in that accent. A resounding no was his response. He said that there are some places in Britain where our hill billy accent is alive & well.

Some time ago, I attended a recital of Shakespeare’s poetry in the original voice. It was fascinating. The cadence was profoundly different from the BBC accent we are accustomed to.

There is no such thing as the Southern accent. Charleston, New Orleans, Sea Islands, Virginia & mountain folk all speak with distinct voices. It is one of life’s great joys.
I’ve always heard about the fakeness of Southern accents as portrayed in the media. When I was looking at videos on YT regarding this topic, I can across this video. Do you think this is generally accurate?

 

RedRover

Corporal
Joined
Dec 16, 2019
I had an interesting chat with the actor Michael York. He was in Nashville to do a Shakespeare reading with the Nashville Symphony. I asked him about the fact that the back holler East Tennessee accent was Shakespeare’s. I asked him if he would ever attempt to do a performance in that accent. A resounding no was his response. He said that there are some places in Britain where our hill billy accent is alive & well. He went on & on, it was something he is very inter

Some time ago, I attended a recital of Shakespeare’s poetry in the original voice. It was fascinating. The cadence was profoundly different from the BBC accent we are accustomed to.

There is no such thing as the Southern accent. Charleston, New Orleans, Sea Islands, Virginia & mountain folk all speak with distinct voices. It is one of life’s great joys.

A college friend became a very successful TV & stage actor. Early on he was in a show where the cast of native New Yorkers spoke in very affected Southern accents. My friend had to work with a dialect coach so that he would sound like them. When he objected, the coach educated him. The audience was from New York, if he spoke in his natural patrician upper class planter drawl nobody would understand him.

Notices from the early 20th Century that the people of Laurel County, Kentucky were understood to have been principally English and spoke accordingly. The authors of this were New Englanders:

“Their speech is English, not American, and, from the number of expressions they use which have long been obsolete elsewhere, and the old-fashioned way in which they pronounce many of their words, it is clear that they are talking the language of a past day, though exactly what period I am not competent to decide. One peculiarity is perhaps worth the noting, namely the pronunciation of the impersonal pronoun with an aspirate—“hit”—a practice that seems to be universal.
Economically they are independent. As there are practically no available markets, little or no surplus produce is grown, each family extracting from its holding just what is needed to support life, and no more. They have very little money, barter in kind being the customary form of exchange.
Many set the standard of bodily and material comfort perilously low, in order, presumably, that they may have the more leisure and so extract the maximum enjoyment out of life. The majority live in log-cabins, more or less water-tight, usually, but not always, lighted with windows; but some have built larger and more comfortable homesteads.
They are a leisurely, cheery people in their quiet way, in whom the social instinct is very highly developed. They dispense hospitality with an openhanded generosity and are extremely interested in and friendly toward strangers, communicative and unsuspicious. “But surely you will tarry with us for the night?” was said to us on more than one occasion when, after paying an afternoon’s visit, we rose to say good-bye.
They know their Bible intimately and subscribe to an austere creed, charged with Calvinism and the unrelenting doctrines of determinism or fatalism. The majority we met were Baptists, but we met Methodists also, a few Presbyterians, and some who are attached to what is known as the “Holiness” sect, with whom, however, we had but little truck, as their creed forbids the singing of secular songs.
They have an easy unaffected bearing and the unselfconscious manners of the well-bred. I have received salutations upon introduction or on bidding farewell, dignified and restrained, such as a courtier might make to his Sovereign. Our work naturally led to the making of many acquaintances, and, in not a few cases, to the formation of friendships of a more intimate nature, but on no single occasion did we receive anything but courteous and friendly treatment. Strangers that we met in the course of our long walks would usually bow, doff the hat, and extend the hand, saying, “My name is___; what is yours?” an introduction which often led to a pleasant talk and sometimes to singing and the noting of interesting ballads. In their general characteristics they reminded me of the English peasant, with whom my work in England for the past fifteen years or more has brought me into close contact. There are differences, however. The mountaineer is freer in his manner, more alert, and less inarticulate than his British prototype, and bears no trace of the obsequiousness of manner which, since the Enclosure Acts robbed him of his economic independence and made him a hired labourer, has unhappily characterized the English villager. The difference is seen in the way the mountaineer, as I have already said, upon meeting a stranger, removes his hat, offers his hand and enters into conversation, where the English labourer would touch his cap, or pull his forelock, and pass on.”
A few of those we met were able to read and write, but the majority were illiterate. They are, however, good talkers, using an abundant vocabulary racily and often picturesquely. Although uneducated, in the sense in which that term is usually understood, they possess that elemental wisdom, abundant knowledge and intuitive understanding which those only who live in constant touch with Nature and face to face with reality seem to be able to acquire.” [Campbell, Olive D., and Cecil James Sharp, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1917, iv-vi.]

J. Marshall,
Hernando, FL.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Notices from the early 20th Century that the people of Laurel County, Kentucky were understood to have been principally English and spoke accordingly. The authors of this were New Englanders:

“Their speech is English, not American, and, from the number of expressions they use which have long been obsolete elsewhere, and the old-fashioned way in which they pronounce many of their words, it is clear that they are talking the language of a past day, though exactly what period I am not competent to decide. One peculiarity is perhaps worth the noting, namely the pronunciation of the impersonal pronoun with an aspirate—“hit”—a practice that seems to be universal.
Economically they are independent. As there are practically no available markets, little or no surplus produce is grown, each family extracting from its holding just what is needed to support life, and no more. They have very little money, barter in kind being the customary form of exchange.
Many set the standard of bodily and material comfort perilously low, in order, presumably, that they may have the more leisure and so extract the maximum enjoyment out of life. The majority live in log-cabins, more or less water-tight, usually, but not always, lighted with windows; but some have built larger and more comfortable homesteads.
They are a leisurely, cheery people in their quiet way, in whom the social instinct is very highly developed. They dispense hospitality with an openhanded generosity and are extremely interested in and friendly toward strangers, communicative and unsuspicious. “But surely you will tarry with us for the night?” was said to us on more than one occasion when, after paying an afternoon’s visit, we rose to say good-bye.
They know their Bible intimately and subscribe to an austere creed, charged with Calvinism and the unrelenting doctrines of determinism or fatalism. The majority we met were Baptists, but we met Methodists also, a few Presbyterians, and some who are attached to what is known as the “Holiness” sect, with whom, however, we had but little truck, as their creed forbids the singing of secular songs.
They have an easy unaffected bearing and the unselfconscious manners of the well-bred. I have received salutations upon introduction or on bidding farewell, dignified and restrained, such as a courtier might make to his Sovereign. Our work naturally led to the making of many acquaintances, and, in not a few cases, to the formation of friendships of a more intimate nature, but on no single occasion did we receive anything but courteous and friendly treatment. Strangers that we met in the course of our long walks would usually bow, doff the hat, and extend the hand, saying, “My name is___; what is yours?” an introduction which often led to a pleasant talk and sometimes to singing and the noting of interesting ballads. In their general characteristics they reminded me of the English peasant, with whom my work in England for the past fifteen years or more has brought me into close contact. There are differences, however. The mountaineer is freer in his manner, more alert, and less inarticulate than his British prototype, and bears no trace of the obsequiousness of manner which, since the Enclosure Acts robbed him of his economic independence and made him a hired labourer, has unhappily characterized the English villager. The difference is seen in the way the mountaineer, as I have already said, upon meeting a stranger, removes his hat, offers his hand and enters into conversation, where the English labourer would touch his cap, or pull his forelock, and pass on.”
A few of those we met were able to read and write, but the majority were illiterate. They are, however, good talkers, using an abundant vocabulary racily and often picturesquely. Although uneducated, in the sense in which that term is usually understood, they possess that elemental wisdom, abundant knowledge and intuitive understanding which those only who live in constant touch with Nature and face to face with reality seem to be able to acquire.” [Campbell, Olive D., and Cecil James Sharp, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1917, iv-vi.]

J. Marshall,
Hernando, FL.
I was fortunate enough to be friends with Dr Charles Wolf. You will see his name on many Smithsonian recording collections. He traveled all over the South recording & collecting songs. He could have written this post himself.

One of his most remarkable finds was a couple in their 80’s whose family had been troubadours time out of mind. They knew an almost endless number of songs by heart. While transcribing one of them a graduate student had a flash of recognition.

Apparently there was a few lines of an Elizabeth ballad recorded in a letter or something. I don’t recall the exact details, but in the folk song world it was well known. Anyways, the song they transcribed had that passage almost word for word. It had come down orally & with great accuracy.

Thanks for the posting, it brought back some very fond memories.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
I don’t know one way or another. This dude sure was funny though.
Haha !

Funny he was !!

Well, the fact that gwilymT disagrees with me proves my point.
There is not one single dialect for the Southern USA States.

That member is from Murfreesboro, Tennessee ... and I'm from an hour outside of New Orleans.
( Those two areas are over 500 miles apart) so yeah, there will be quite a few dialect differences within that distance.

Kind of like how a Los Angeles accent is nothing like a rural Northern California accent.

:smoke:
 
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Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
Haha !

Funny he was !!

Well, the fact that gwilymT disagrees with me proves my point.
There is no one single dialect for the Southern USA States.

That member is from Murfreesboro, Tennessee ... and I'm from an hour outside of New Orleans.
( Those two areas are over 500 miles apart) so yeah, there will be quite a few dialect differences within that distance.

Kind of like a Los Angeles accent is nothing like rural Northern California

:smoke:
I meant rhea cole not @GwilymT

Apologies!
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Some recorded comments by Southern veterans...

Confederate Veterans; youtube.

J. Marshall,
Hernando, FL
I always love watching those old news reels.
It's one thing seeing photos of Civil War veterans, but it's entirely different to hear them talk.

The fact these men immediately started an original "Rebel Yell" with such passion speaks volumes.

Individually, they are somewhat comical.

However, even if one regiment of almost a thousand men yelping like that . . . while running toward me with
loaded muskets and fixed bayonets . . .


I'd be scared too.

I can't blame the young Union boys for becoming nervous when they saw these guys approaching.

:smoke:
 

RedRover

Corporal
Joined
Dec 16, 2019
I always love watching those old news reels.
It's one thing seeing photos of Civil War veterans, but it's entirely different to hear them talk.

The fact these men immediately started an original "Rebel Yell" with such passion speaks volumes.

Individually, they are somewhat comical.

However, even if one regiment of almost a thousand men yelping like that . . . while running toward me with
loaded muskets and fixed bayonets . . .


I'd be scared too.

I can't blame the young Union boys for becoming nervous when they saw these guys approaching.

:smoke:
Here's a more scientific examination of the Rebel Yell by the Museum of the Confederacy, based on a couple more recordings in their collection.

Youtube: Rebel Yell lives part 1.

Youtube: Rebel Yell lives, part 2.

There have been theories floated that the rebel yell was some sort of "scots-irish" manifestation. However, I recall reading from the 1600s that continental Europe soldiers found the English particularly odd for yelling when going into battle...

General Daniel Harvey Hill stated at a Confederate reunion after the war of the CS Army volunteers:

"He was ready to charge a battery with the wild Rebel yell or to receive a charge with the imperturbable calmness of Wellington’s veterans at Waterloo. He had the best characteristics of the best fighters of the best races of the whole earth. The independence of a country life, hunting, fishing and the mastery of slaves, gave him large individuality and immense trust in himself. Hence he was unsurpassed and unsurpassable as a scout and on the skirmish line. Of the shoulder-to-shoulder courage, born of drill and discipline, he knew nothing, and cared less. Hence, on the battlefield, he was more a free lance than a machine. Who-ever saw a Confederate line advancing that was not crooked as a ram’s horn? Each ragged Rebel yelling on his own hook and aligning on himself.”


J. Marshall,
Hernando, FL.
 
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Joined
May 12, 2018
People seem to think that my accent is quite English... even though I’m a born and raised Midwesterner. Life long exposure to British pop culture had left a mark, I guess I have heard some people from New England who sound a bit like me though so perhaps that’s somehow the origin of my accent.

I also use a lot of Midwesternisms (“yeah, no!” being one apparently) in my speech as well, and depending upon context I sort of start slipping into other accents accidentally.

So generally people seem to think my modern accent makes me sound like I am from somewhere, anywhere else. The most creative guess was probably “Dutch”!
 

TerryB

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Location
Nashville TN
I was fortunate enough to be friends with Dr Charles Wolf. You will see his name on many Smithsonian recording collections. He traveled all over the South recording & collecting songs. He could have written this post himself.

One of his most remarkable finds was a couple in their 80’s whose family had been troubadours time out of mind. They knew an almost endless number of songs by heart. While transcribing one of them a graduate student had a flash of recognition.

Apparently there was a few lines of an Elizabeth ballad recorded in a letter or something. I don’t recall the exact details, but in the folk song world it was well known. Anyways, the song they transcribed had that passage almost word for word. It had come down orally & with great accuracy.

Thanks for the posting, it brought back some very fond memories.
Then there's the "Lady Mondagreen." It's where we mishear a line or word in a song and pass it on as if it was the real deal. "They laid 'im on the green" became "Lady Mondagreen." Someone in the Elizabethan Era was watching a Shakespeare play (Henry V) and was copying the lines for his own actor's cheat book. He heard "A babbled o' green fields," and thought the way "he" was pronounced was the letter A. We have it that way in some of our versions.
 

TerryB

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Location
Nashville TN
And don't get me started on Wabash Cannonball. If you listen closely to the earliest versions, I think the original song was about a riverboat, not a train.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
And don't get me started on Wabash Cannonball. If you listen closely to the earliest versions, I think the original song was about a riverboat, not a train.
The present version was a campaign song for Daddy Clayton that Roy Acuff took from a 19 th Century hobo song. The Wabash cannonball was hobo slang, the exact meaning debatable. No train of that name existed until Wabash Cannonball because the name of a passenger train that ran on the Wabash RR 1950/71.
 
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