All of us have known people who correct our accent. You know this person – the well meaning friend or relative who insists on telling you how your pronunciation of a word is wrong. This person may even joke about regional accents or choice of words. Dealing with a person with is concerned about regional accents is difficult at best. A few easy tips can make life easier with the person who insists their way is the right way.
Some people simply need to be heard. Allow the person to correct the accent, word or phrase. It is difficult to object to something if the person is not even heard. It could be that there are more than one correct ways to pronounce a word and both are acceptable. After the individual vents their frustrations at the different pronunciation and you have listened attentively, now is the time to explain.
Not all people realize that each area of a country has different influences on language. An area settled by English has different words and pronunciations than an area settled by Greeks. Explain to the individual about the area in question. For example, if you are from Louisiana, explain that French has a huge influence in the area and has infiltrated even English words and meanings in the region. As for myself, my family is from the mountains of North Carolina. There is a heavy Irish and Scottish influence and till this day, the founding fathers heritage can be heard in the language of the people who live there.
Remind Person of Manners
Sometimes people feel that correcting a person’s speech or mannerisms is acceptable. Unless they are told otherwise, they will continue with their corrections. Simply let the person know that you appreciate their concern about your use of words or pronunciation, but you feel hurt when they correct your speech. Let the person know that you are proud of your heritage and the influence on all aspects of the area, including language. Also remind them that we would be slow to correct a person from another country, so the same respect should be given to people who are from different parts of our country,
A PBS Special, Do You Speak American , is sometimes used in classrooms to discuss regional dialects, looking at the history behind accents in the United States. The program states that there are 5 major dialects in the United States, with many more sub dialects. The PBS special discusses the influence of culture and migration and its relationship to the formation of distinct accents. This program would be a good choice to share with a person who corrects accents. It may be that they are simply not aware of the history behind our regional accents.
Our country is vast, with many different ethnic groups and one region may have a totally different accent or word choice than another close by area. We are all unique and should be proud of our heritage that has even influenced our language. Of course we all can be corrected from time to time and learn new ways of speaking, but a some people take it too far, failing to respect a person’s heritage. A few simple tips can set the situation straight, making bot the person being corrected and the one correcting feel better.