I went to New York City after my senior year of high school on a church mission trip. Talk about culture shock! I had been to several large cities before the trip including Atlanta, Oklahoma City, & Minneapolis but none compared to New York. Everything was so FAST. The city was like an active beehive 24/7. We did street ministry in many different areas and spoke to hundreds of people. You would think that they were speaking another language. Their accent combined with the sheer speed of speaking took quite some processing. It would take me a good 5-10 seconds for whatever was being said to register in this mountain mind of mine. I'm sure they were thinking that they wish I would just hurry and spit out whatever it was I was trying to say too.
A few months later, I went off to college in north east Georgia (Toccoa Falls College). Never would I have imagined that my accent would be such a big part of my identity. Apparently, I had been turning my one syllable name (Kim) into two (Ki-um) and I had no idea. Let me tell ya, everyone let me know about it. One of my good friends was a guy from Canada and we had the biggest laughs when we hung out. I mean this guy ended most questions with "eh?" and tried to convince me that a toboggan was a sled instead of a sock hat that you wear on your head. Funny, huh?
When I would come in from school, I would bring some of my friends with me so they could get some of my Granny's cooking and realize what they had been missing their whole lives. They all usually enjoyed the food and the hospitality of my grandparents but boy did they laugh at the things we'd say. Most wanted to know exactly where is yonder and just what is a yuns.
Several of my friends were from the Raleigh area and I was amazed at how much of a difference just a few hours could make in our different dialects. People in the mountains have a dialect that is unique and not all people in NC sound the same. One of my biggest pet peeves is how outsiders tend to associate ignorance with our mountain dialect. Stereotypes are hard to be broken but I assure you that some of the smartest people you could ever know say yuns & yonder.
I was reminded again of just how country I can sound while my brother, The Mater Hater, was over at my house this past Christmas. We had been talking about living self-sufficiently when I said, "There will be a lot of people in trouble if we ever lose power for a long period of time." He looked at me and laughed and pointed out that I said pire (rhymes with fire) for power. I didn't even notice. He's getting a little uppity if you ask me. ;)
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