Monday, January 08, 2007

Where Yat?

Since childhood, I have been very good at entertaining myself. I almost always have one book in my posession.(Heck I even read in the bath.) I enjoy all kinds of music. However, my one love above all others is "people". All kinds of people. I like watching people most of all. I have since I can remember, and I am also very naturally curious about people.

As a military spouse, and a LPN, this has been very handy. Working primarily in pulmonary, geriatric, and hospice areas, there are a lot of tasks that become easier, when both parties are occupied and enjoying one anothers company. Throughout the years I have heard stories, millions and millions of stories, that I now regret not writing down. Because most of those people are gone. I have heard of marriages, that occurred right after meeting one another that have lasted 73 years, war stories, heartbreaking stories. Everyone has a great story. I have met painters, writers, knitters, pie makers, military veterans, entrepranuers. All interesting.

Over the years, I have become quite excellent at guessing where people are from by accent. I am rarely wrong. Rarely. And those mistakes were almost humerous. I guessed one woman to be from Minnesota, and she was from Arkansas, HOWEVER when I asked where her Mother was from she said Minnesota. She told me, her Mother had been dead for about 23 years or so, but I assured her her accent was decidedly Minnesotan.

I once, guessed about 30 peoples home state on a trolly at a casino. I managed to get all 30 people matched to the correct state. (even after a couple of drinks with dinner)

The last time I flew, I guessed the man that was seated to my right as Egyption after he said "excuse me". I was correct. The funny thing is, I have never been to Egypt, and I do not believe I have ever met anyone from Egypt...we ended up having a lovely conversation.

Oh of course a lot of accents are easy. Minnesota, Boston, Jersey.....

And today I disappointed myself, I really did.

I guessed two gentlemen wrong. Damn. TWO wrong to add to my list.

I seriously heard Boston, New York -Irish Italian thing. So I guessed New Jersey. I was tricked I was fooled!!

The men in question were from New Orleans. And after listening to them both for a bit, I began to hear, the rhythm, the sound, the thickness...and I said ok "now I get it, like Harry Connick New Orleans, I always think Cajun, and country". This got quite a chuckle, because appearently Harry was a classmate and from their parish.)

And then tonight I recalled this...

John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces
is regarded as particularly accurate. One of the better-known varieties is spoken by the "Yats," lower- and middle-class white New Orleanians. (The name derives from "Where y'at?" a local greeting.) The Yats have a strong Irish heritage, and several features of their speech recall stereotypical Brooklynese—"dese," "dem," "doze" for "these," "them," "those"; "berl," "earl," and "ersters" for "boil," "oil," and "oysters"; and "mudder" for "mother."

*the interesting part is, I cannot learn a language to save my life, and wonder if it could be genetic, after all Isaac Taylor was a philologist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting talent to have, though. I'm not sure what my accent is anymore. I have a tendency to pick up whatever's going from whoever I'm with or where I live. When I lived in Texas and worked at the university library we once had a call from a gentleman in England. I was hard pressed not to slip into a British accent while I was on the phone with him. *g*