I am Southern. This is not a surprise to those who know me. The tag line for my books is “Fiction With a Southern Accent”, so it’s probably not a big surprise to many of my readers either.
But what does that tag line mean? Sometimes it means I write Southern. Other times it means I write from the Southern perspective. Always it means I have to try hard to remove my accent from characters who’ve been born and raised elsewhere (yes, I write about them too).
At the risk of lumping a big mass of different together, I have to say that those of us from the South are often recognized by our speech patterns. There are times when my innate Southernness bubbles up and comes out of my mouth. Other times, I manage to hide it–mostly. But get me on the phone with a relative or friend and I”m back home in a heartbeat, at least in how I sound.
An example: yamaman’em. Translation: your mama and them (with them being anyone closely related to or living under the roof with your mama). Used in a sentence, it would look something like this: “How’s yamaman’em?” Of course, the correct answer is “Aight.”
Then there are the great lines I’ve heard. Case in point is my own widowed mama who offered this gem once while we were dining at Luby’s Cafeteria (of course): “If I ever marry again, he’s either going to have to quilt or sing because the only two places I go are choir and the quilt shop.” Lest you think it’s a great line to start off a novel, forget it! I already did.