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Is the Southern accent going the way of petticoats? One study seems to think so.

Yup, it seems the youngins just ain’t twangin’ the way that they used to. A new collaborative study between the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech suggests that the classic southern accent may be slowly fading away amongst young generations. Well, don’t that drawl beat all, y’all!

Margaret Renwick, associate professor at the University of Georgia and lead on the study shares their findings on this phenomenon in a press release. “We had been listening to hundreds of hours of speech recorded in Georgia and we noticed that older speakers often had a thick Southern drawl, while current college students didn’t,” says Renwick. “We were surprised to see how rapidly the Southern accent drops away starting with Gen X.”

The researchers gathered this data while listening to recordings of different southern-born individuals from different generations. Special attention was paid to how each individual pronounced vowels in certain words. Older southerners were found to more frequently pronounce words like “prize” as “prahz” and “face” as “fuh-eece“, but these altered pronunciations were much less frequent among Gen Z southerners.

This is believed to be a natural occurrence of dialects over time, with each generation adopting fewer vocal eccentricities than the one before it. Or as Professor Renwick surmises, “Today’s college students don’t sound like their parents, who didn’t sound like their own parents.”

The more I think about it the more it makes sense. I was born and raised in the heart of North Carolina, as were both my parents. My dad has an extremely thick southern drawl. My mom’s is less pronounced but you hear traces of it every so often. But if you’ve heard me on air you know I don’t really have a traditionally southern accent. Unless you ask me how to pronounce the liquid used in a car engine, then you’ll REALLY hear the Southern come out of me. It’s pronounced “oll”, not “oy-ul” and I will absolutely die on that hill. Have fun wasting two syllables on a three-letter word, ya damned Yankees.

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