The famous “Southern accent” will die out because Gen Xers from the Deep South speak so differently to their Baby Boomer parents, a study suggests.
Scientists from the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech show that Xers showed a “remarkable change” in the way they speak compared to their boomer elders.
The researchers studied hours of spoken word from people of different generations and saw that the accent lightened as the speakers got younger.
Showing differences in accents is often a popular topic for TikTok videos.
A study from academia highlights a recent trend on social media as the famous “Southern accent” becomes less and less common, starting with members of Generation X and moving on to the TikTok generation, as this one social media user proves
“We found that here in Georgia, the accents of white English speakers have shifted away from traditional Southern pronunciation over the past few generations,” said Margaret Renwick, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Georgia.
“Today’s students don’t sound like their parents, who didn’t sound like their own parents,” added Renwick, who led the study.
The study used recordings of white people native to Georgia born between the late 1800s and early 2000s, which is considered the beginning of Generation Z.
Jon Forrest, a fellow academic who co-authored the paper, said the shift is not limited to Georgia but is largely responsible for a change in demographics in the southern United States after World War II.
“We’re seeing similar shifts in many regions, and we may find people in California, Atlanta, Boston and Detroit who have similar speech characteristics,” Forrest said.
Especially after World War II, millions of people moved to Georgia and its largest city, Atlanta, which is now seen as a southern hub for several high-profile industries.
The research added that as a result of this migration, children may have heard more accents than their parents at school and therefore adapted their own speech to that of their peers.
‘Although very young children acquire their native language from their parents and caregivers, school-aged children can quickly change their pronunciations to become more similar to those of their peers. We believe this is the moment when intergenerational language change occurs,” the report claims.
The study, conducted in collaboration between the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, found that X-ers had a “notable change” in the way they speak compared to their baby boomer parents.
“We found that here in Georgia, the accents of white English speakers have shifted away from traditional Southern pronunciation over the past few generations,” says Margaret Renwick, associate professor of linguistics at the University of Georgia (pictured).
Words seen as symbolic of the traditional Southern accent or words like “price” and “face,” which older Georgians pronounce “prahz” and “fuh-eece,” while zoomers pronounce them “prah-eez” and “fayce.” the study claims.
“Changes in the diphthong in ‘price’ are the oldest characteristic statement in Southern speech, dating back over 100 years,” Renwick said.
‘The Southern pronunciation of words like ‘face’ emerged in the early 20th century. These are distinguishing features of the traditional Southern accent.”
Renwick said they focused on words that sounded similar, such as “bide,” “bait,” “bet” and “bat,” and found that all four words were pronounced “more southerly” by older speakers.
“Specifically, we found evidence of the strongest Southern accents among baby boomers born in the mid-20th century, followed by a rapid shift away from Southern speech beginning with Generation X, who were born in the late 1960s and 1970s.” , she says. concluded.
The researchers plan to continue their research by studying speech changes in Georgia’s black population.