fire engine = fur injun

My accent has been variously described as: adorable, no accent at all, hard to locate, Southern, melodic, and hickish. My accent is a mixture of different locations, experiences, and languages, but these days I speak with a fairly standard American accent … most of the time. Everyone has an accent derived from his/her personal history even though our regional differences are subsiding and people are choosing to mask their accents as our society becomes more inundated with mass media and easily comprehended communication is prized.

For me, artifacts of past accents pop up intermittently via regional turns of phrase (bless your heart) or different terminology (coke) or words that are inherent to the dialect (ya’ll, howdy) or downright bad grammar (had broughten). Or I elongate certain vowels (egg, wow) or pronounce silent letters (salmon) or drop the beginning ‘h’ (humble, Houston) or blend letters together (Louisville, New Orleans). And then there’s the twang that comes out strong with the ‘ir’ vowel combination (wire, iron, briar). So yeah … not so standard American, eh? But who wants to be boring and standard?

Moral of the story? If you’re a little kid just learning to read and you point to an unfamiliar word and think I’m saying ‘fur Injun,’ what I’m really saying is ‘fire engine.’ Sigh. Poor kid, he’s never going to learn to read.

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