Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grammar vs Accent

While talking with some young girls the other day, one of the girls said that her parents "had tooken" lots of photos while on vacation. Sometimes I let such grammar go, but I just couldn't do it - especially since one of the girls in the conversation was one I tutor, and we have been going over verb tense. As all young people do, she had questioned why verb usage was important. "So you don't look stupid." is usually my reply. Now, I don't think these girls are stupid when they use poor grammar. They are young, and they are learning. I figured I might use the moment to teach them. "Taken," I said.

Blank look, batted eyelashes, "Yeah, tooken," the girl said. We went back and forth a few times - me saying "taken." Her saying, "tooken."

With a determined voice, "No, taken," I said again. My tutor-ee rolled her eyes knowing what was coming. "Tooken is not a word. Taken is the correct word. You need to know that. I don't mean to embarrass you. I love you enough to correct you, and tooken is wrong." She grinned and gave me a quick hug. Who knows what she was really thinking, but I think the hug was sincere.

Later in another conversation with older ladies, I repeated that conversation above. One of the older ladies said that she, too, was picky about grammar - that she always hated it when her kids used bad grammar. She then proceeded to say several words with the long "i" sound - using a very twangy Texas/Okie accent vs. "the correct" Yankee way of pronouncing the long "i" sound.

Now she had stepped on my toes. Accents don't bother me. In fact, I find them fascinating, and I said as much to my friend. Who is to say what accent is correct or good or bad? Sometimes they are funny, sometimes accents make me cringe, but they are not necessarily bad grammar. This same lady friend once corrected me when I said "mango" which rhymed with tango. She said the "a" sound should be like the "a" in "father." But I told her, that when you pronounce "mango" like "mongo," people think you are talking about "Blazing Saddles."


Deb said...

Bad grammar drives me nuts; but then I AM my father's daughter. And like you, I find accents fascinating.

Buck said...

Wait. Your friend has a serious Okie twang yet pronounces mango "mongo?" That's one confused chick! Does she say "to-MAH-to," too?

Good on ya for correcting the young lady. I don't think I would have been as kind and gentle but I certainly would have been as persistent.

I think I need to rent "Blazing Saddles." Just the thang for the holidays.

wv: coprad. A revenue generating machine employed by police forces, often in places known as "speed traps."

Bag Blog said...

Speaking of speed traps, I got pulled over the other day - I feel a rant coming on.

As for my friend, she is a Tex/Mex/Okie and a bit confused on the mango thang. Unlike me, she is not so proud of her Tex/Mex/Okie heritage and maybe putting on airs or trying not to be so Texican.

Verb usage is tough on Okies. I try to be forgiving.

Moogie P said...

I would've thought she was talking about Mongo, too!

Accents around these parts are indeed fascinating -- kinda like Joisey Shore meets Scarlett O'Hara and the Beverly Hillbillies.

Bag Blog said...

I have a weird sense of humor - probably from watching shows like "Blazing Saddles."

And I love accents from the deep South - so smooth - like honey. My Cajun cousin-in-law has a great accent. I just wish I could hear it more often.

Becky said...

Interesting. I've never heard it pronounced "mongo". Not even on TV.

Bag Blog said...

That is why it is funny.