“Do You Speak American?” Documentary Interesting and Relevant

Do people judge you by your accent? Yes, they do. I say y’all, drop my g’s from verbs and generally sound hickish if I’m not careful.

One way we are beginning to see real education regarding dialects is within the power of the modern documentary. In Robert MacNeil’s 57-minute film, he travels around the southern United States to explore the roots and regional flavors associated with those dialects. Working with Wolfram and many locals from the Appalachian Mountains to Louisiana and Texas, MacNeil’s fascinating documentary examines the richness of each state’s heritage as reflected in the speech of their citizens.

In particular, MacNeil discusses the idea of southern speech discrimination as well as bringing forth the idea of the “New South Phenomenon” in which some people either fake or acquire a Southern accent for monetary gain, such as in country music.
He interviews John Fought, who identifies southerners as the “largest body of speakers in America—and growing.”
MacNeil’s work will be helpful to me in my defense of keeping southern dialect as a part of identity, even in the composition classroom. His view of dialects as a “cultural heritage” supports my argument that a southern twang needn’t take away from true scholarship. By turning scholarship into entertainment for the masses, the first step for nationwide acceptance can be reached.


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