Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Oregon?? Really???

Today, a guy from work asked me if my accent was from Oregon. This shocked me for two reasons:

1. I'm from Texas, land of probably the most famous accent ever.
2. Can anyone tell me what an Oregon accent actually sounds like? I wasn't aware that the Oregonians had a recognizable dialect!


hr said...

I had a hallmate freshman year from Oregon and do business with a company there now...and it is a distinctive accent (sort of like a softer less nasal Minnesota)...but definitely not confusable with Texas!

JenniferReinsch said...

oregon accent?????? i'd pay money to hear on of those.

Josh said...

I thought it was just Minneesowta

Kimberly said...

Someone guessed I was from Vermont one time by my accent. It reminded me of White Christmas.
-Kim Holder

Ty said...

I am from Oregon and I can't tell the difference between my accent and the accent heard on most News shows . . . except when I get into a Canadian mood, but that was a later addition to my accent repertoire.

Sloop said...

I'm from Portland & on my trip across the states last year, several people told me & my friends that we spoke too slowly and slurred our words. Maybe that's a Portland, Oregon accent?

Emily said...

Yes, Oregon accents do exist, because I indeed HAVE one. If you're wondering what they sound like, they sound like...nothing. Really. There was a legitimate, scientific study showing that Oregonians have the least accent in the entire world. So, to anyone who HAS an accent, we sound like robots. Or computers.

Glad to help.

Anonymous said...

I am from Central Oregon (Bend) and lived in Oregon ages 0-22. Then I left and never lived there again.

There is definitely an Oregon accent, which I have mostly lost but my non-Oregon wife says that I fall back into when I meet up with family and friends from back home.

I don't know how to describe it in linguistic terms, but when I hear it after not hearing it for a long time, it sounds kind of "hick-y", sort of a drawl, and also kind of a mumbling accent where all the words and sounds run into each other. (I lived in New York for a couple of years and people asked a lot of the time if I was from the South.) It also sounds kind of funny, as in "ha-ha" funny, in the sense that when you first hear it you think the person is putting you on - it's not so different from standard English (like Texas or New York or Minnesota) that you immediately identify this person as speaking with an accent - it sounds more like someone who knows how to speak standard American English but is f-ing with you in order to crack jokes. But then you understand that's just how they talk.

The emphasis is weird / off too - it's not a singsongy up-and-down tone like some accents (Californians sounded this way to us when I was a kid), but people in Oregon will emphasize and draw out certain words in a sentence in a way that seems like they're trying to make a point but then you realize that the way people in Oregon talk, they just pick a word or two in each sentence and emphasize it - "I went to the STORE, and there they got a deal for two heads of LETTUCE for fifty cents."

When you hear the weird Oregon emphasis on certain words you think that somehow a point is being made that a store is an odd place to go or that lettuce is the last thing you'd expect to find at that price - cabbage maybe, but not lettuce. But no, it means nothing.

Anonymous said...

all the features of the Oregon accent I mentioned can be heard in a speech by Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, who has a pretty light Oregon accent - it's twangy, with a monotone punctuated by weird emphasis on random words.