Smart Phones and Southern Twang

I was born in southern Illinois but much of my adult life has been spent in northern Illinois.  Everywhere I have gone people ask me where in the South I was born.  Most guess Tennessee, Kentucky or even Mississippi.  Often I have been told that I have a “southern twang” – whatever that means.

My husband and son-in-law tease me about many words that I pronounce wrong – at least according to them.  My husband has tried to get me to said the word as he says it.  When I listen to others I can tell the difference, but try as I do, I cannot pronounce it as they do.

While we were missionaries in the Philippines several asked us why my husband and I “talk different.”  They recognized my speech pattern was not the same as his.

With my recent purchase of a smart phone I now can just speak my test messages instead of typing them out.  The result has been so funny.   Alexis – or whoever she is – does not understand my speech.  Some of the texts she has sent have made me laugh.

Some words she doesn’t get

  • I say “said” – she hears “set”
  • I say “wash” – she hears “warsh”
  • I say wrestling – she hears “rassling”
  • I don’t dare say “oil” or any word with “oi” in it because who knows what she will think I am saying.

Not really being from the south (although southern Illinois is very close to Kentucky and if you look on a map it is as far south as Virginia), I just assumed living that close to the south my ancestors may have been southerners and that speech pattern was passed on to my parents and now to me.  There must have been some southerners in our background because the first secular song I remember singing was “I Wish I Was in Dixie.”

Recently doing more research into my ancestry I found most of our ancestors were from Scotland and Ireland.

Further research into my speech pattern gave me some interesting facts.  The linguist Barbara Johnstone at Carnegie Mellon University has determined that many of the words I mispronounce can be found in the regions of the country that were settled by Scots-Irish Protestants who came to America from Ireland and Scotland for greater religious freedom in the 1700’s.

Since most of those immigrants settled in the Tennessee /Kentucky area and the Appalachian mountains that would explain the “southern twang” people hear.

Anyway, it is going to make for some fun texts as I speak and Alexis tries to understand my dialect.

So – if you get a text from me that does not make sense, try to imagine how a Scots-Irish southerner transplanted to the north would say it.

 

Fiery Red-heads Have More Fun!

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Growing up as a red-head I soon grew tired of all the comments:

  • Where did she get her red hair?  My parents were always asked this since they both had dark hair and my siblings all had brown or black hair.
  • And my Dad’s response to people’s questions on where I got my red hair – “She stood out in the rain and her hair rusted.”
  • Is that your natural hair color?
  • Being told what you can and can’t wear gets annoying.  For years I was told I should not wear red.  I loved the color and it was not until I was in my late 20’s that I decided to wear what I wanted to wear.  To my surprise, I found that I look fine in red!
  • Hey carrot top!
  • Hey red!
  • Hey firetop!
  • One young boy made my life miserable for a while by chanting every time I came around, “I’d rather be dead than red on the head.”
  • I bet you have a temper!
  • Are you Irish?

So for the first few years of my life, I hated being a red-head.  Then I discovered what a rare group I belong to (only 1-2% of humans in the world have red hair) and I have loved being a red-head ever since.  When my pastor husband and I attended conferences, he said it was great having a wife with red hair.  When the meetings broke up and everyone was trying to find their wife in the crowd, he just looked for the red-head – and there I was.  It also made it easy when someone would ask him, “Which one is your wife?”  Simple answer – “The red-head.”

My two sisters had dark blonde and brown hair.  Years later when we would meet someone who knew our family in the past, they always would remember me – “the little red-head” even if they did not remember my sisters.  (I think they may have hated that.)

My paternal grandmother had red hair (and Irish ancestry).  I was one of the last grandkids born in the family so by the time I was a young girl, Grandma was losing her sight.  When we would visit, she would always have me stand in the doorway where the sun would strike my hair and she could see my long red banana curls (yes, I had banana curls).  I think more than anything else seeing Grandma’s pride in me made me feel very special and love the idea of being a red-head.  As I have grown older, I have wanted to learn more about my Irish ancestry.  Think researching that will be my next item on my “bucket list” in retirement.

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Learning more about red-heads I discovered:

  • Red-heads have influenced history out of proportion to their numbers.  Famous red-heads include King David, Helen of Troy, Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Napoleon Bonaparte, Antonio Vivaldi, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill – and of course Lucy (although she was a “fake” red-head).
  • Russian tradition declares that red hair is both a sign that a person holds a fiery temper and craziness.   A Russian Proverb warns “There was never a saint with red hair.”
  • Mark Twain said, “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, red-heads are descended from cats.”
  • We are a big hit in the wizarding world!

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  • We have the most beautiful Disney princess!

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Some “facts” I’m not sure are true, but they certainly are interesting.

  • Medieval Romanians believed red-heads turned into vampires when they died.
  • Hitler is reported to have wanted red-heads killed so that they could not produce “degenerate children”.
  • The witch-hunting manual from medieval Europe, Malleus Maleficarum, instructed that red hair and green eyes were marks of a witch.  (Thankfully my eyes are brown.)
  • And I found there is a study done in Hamburg, Germany and another in England that claimed women with red hair had sex more often.  (Not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.)

One question I used to be asked a lot was “Is that your real color?”  No one asks that now – guess that’s because they assume that anyone my age who still has red hair must being using Miss Clairol.  However, some brave souls do ask me, “Is that the color your hair used to be?”

Well – I don’t use hair dye – I use a wig!  After 16 rounds of chemo when battling my breast cancer, I lost my hair.  When it grew back, it was still red but very, very thin.  After a couple of years of hoping I would regain the thick head of hair I first had, I gave up and popped on a wig.

Yes, my wig is the same color that my hair used to be.  Sometimes I think I should buy a grey wig since I’m well past the age of natural red hair.  But one thing my husband really loved about me when we got married was my red hair.  So – taking the teasing chant the little boy used to taunt me with, I have changed it from, ‘I’d rather be dead than red on the head” to “I will be red until I’m dead.”

Brunettes may be smarter, blondes may have more fun, but nothing beats the intrigue and fascination of being a red-head.

Thank you Grandma Tate Sechrest for my red hair!!!