Accent-uate The Positive

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Writing Prompt
Tags: , ,

You realize I don’t have an accent, right?

Today’s WordPress daily prompt posed this question: Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.

My head is full of air some days...

My head is so full of air some days…

For ‘whatever you like’, I’ll expand upon something I brought up in my last post.  I mentioned one of the worst items in my inventory was a blow-up doll avatar… So I decided I would go ahead and wear it.  After all, I have little shame and less dignity.  (For the record, I’m okay with that…).  The vendor on the avatar is Dark Delights Designs, the sort of shop that gives Second Life its reputation as the land of kinks and strumpets.  The blow-up doll actually includes two shapes and three skins (to choose whether you want to be an inflatable guy, gal, or she-male), wearable nipples, choice of ‘male attachments’ (for the male/she-male dolls), a couple different air-valves, a wearable vibrating tongue, and the HUD to hold the standard inflated in the corner pose of a ‘real’ blow-up doll.  Oh, and a cute touch that I love, two inflatable hands to replace/cover my actual hands.

Like many ‘complete’ avatars, hair is not included.  I chose the Marshmallow in Golden Blond from LoQ for two reasons.  Well, three reasons. Firstly, something blond and relatively simple seemed more appropriate for an inflatable doll.  Secondly, LoQ hairs always come with a tattoo layer of hair color pattern, to protect the avatar from inopportune bald spots in their hairdo.  In this case, it also simulates the spray color beneath the hair of a blow-up doll.  The third reason that I almost forgot to mention?  It’s a really cute hair do!  

Unlike most complete avatars, the blow-up doll avatar didn’t include even a single clothing choice, since blow-up dolls generally aren’t clothed. But since I intended to go out in public, inflatable look or not, I needed to get dressed.  Something with a little bit of classy to it, because nothing says grace and elegance like a blow-up doll in a prom dress.  Hence, my choice of this elegant gold dress from *Jstyle and some formal shoes from an unknown source.  As I look at myself in the camera, I imagine the unpopular kid at school, the one who is good with computers and bad with people, the high school student who already has thinning hair and thickening glasses, pulling me out from under his bed and pretending we are on a date.

Nothing says "nerd-date" like a planetarium...

Nothing says “nerd-date” like a planetarium…

Now after a three paragraph long tangent, I return to my claim that I have no accent.  By definition, an accent is “a distinctive mode of pronunciation of a language, esp. one associated with a particular nation, locality, or social class.”  I certainly have a distinctive writer’s voice… Just as my mind generally takes a circuitous route, often with many detours and sidetracks, to get from point A to point B, so does my writing.  In fact, as I write my blog posts, I generally simultaneously edit myself to pare the detours down, trying to leave the flavor of how my mind wanders while recovering enough linearity to make sense to people whose minds work in more straight-line patterns.  I use a lot of italics when I write, generally to either indicate I’m quoting or in parenthesis to indicate a quick aside comment.  I use a higher-level vocabulary than most people.  I tend to overuse adverbs like obviously, certainly, and actually.  Partly they are verbal signposts, helping me keep my rambling thoughts on some kind of path.  They are also an attempt to more finely add meaning to what I say because I try to be overly precise with my wordings.  E.g. earlier in this paragraph, I could have just said “I have a distinctive writer’s voice,” but I added the word ‘certainly‘ to add a concessionary tone to the statement, acknowledging I have personal distinctions in how I speak and write before I deny distinctions based on nation, locality, or social class.

I’m from southwestern Ohio.  Every region has its own variations in linguistic usage, but there is a long standing claim that Ohio is linguistically neutral: our variations are the absence of other regions’ more pronounced variations.  (Pick either definition of pronounced…I made a punny!)  Small market media personalities from the region have an edge in trying to jump to larger markets because that neutrality broadens the list of places they can go.  The midwest accent is harder to caricature because there aren’t any handles to exaggerate.  It’s my weakest argument, but if I have any accent, it is a midwest accent.  So since the midwest accent isn’t really an accent, I must not have an accent.  It’s my weakest argument because there are plenty of studies that have caught examples of midwestern characteristics.  I found these articles to be interesting discussions of the midwest accent, with plenty of examples: “Do You Speak American?” and “If You’re From Ohio, You Have an Accent.

Deflated… The date must be over...

Deflated… The date must be over…

Related to the first argument is the idea that an accent is distinctive.  I.e. different from those around it.  Since I am a solitary wanderer, there generally isn’t anyone around me.  And my home base remains southwest ohio where I sound just like the natives because I am one also.  Here, a transplanted Georgian or Bostonian has an accent.  If I were in Boston, I would be the one with an accent, but one of the side-effects of being less traveled is that I don’t have an accent.

And the argument that I feel really wins the argument is that an accent is a mode of pronunciation.  I chat, I text, I IM, I post, I write, I emote… I don’t actually pronounce.  Take the word gyro, a type of Greek sandwich.  It’s not uncommon in my region of the world to hear it mispronounced “Jiro”, particularly since that is the correct pronunciation when you are discussing a gyroscope.  My firsty generally pronounces it “hero”, like a comic book hero and irritates his wife and I by maintaining he can’t hear the difference between gyro and hero unless you enunciate the z-sound of the correct pronunciation with enough exaggeration that you are mispronouncing the word on the other side.  Yet when I talk about a gyro, whether you ‘hear’ Jiro, Hero, or Zhero, is all on you.  I put the letters out there and you the reader provide the pronunciation.  Yes, I have dialect and voice, which are functions of choice and usage and emphasis, but because I pronounce nothing, I maintain I don’t have an accent.  Refute that, WordPress!


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