I never considered myself to have a special dialect; in fact I never really considered how language even played a part in my life. Reflecting back I am seeing more how parts of my language I never thought of before really make me who I am, and how I am. My parents are both from the northeast; most of my family is in the northeast as well. But I grew up in a military family, and traveling to different states and even countries has had affect on my language throughout the years. Traveling evolved my language as well as exposing me to others early on.
I think I’m a little more understanding and less judgmental because of how I’ve been exposed. My dialect begins with my parents. Mom and Dad are both from the Northeastern United States. Areas like Michigan and Upstate New York were their home states. My father’s side is in Michigan, but they sound more southern to me. My grandpa was originally raised in Kentucky so that might be the southern drawl. Growing up I used to think the way they talked was kind of funny. Like how my grandma says, “pop,” instead of soda.
Another one my grandma used was, “reatched,” instead of reached, as in, “I reatched over to grab the remote. ” Or my grandfather who was always saying stuff I didn’t understand like the words in the, “Sounds of the South,” article. He would say words like, “mosquito hawk,” and I would have no clue what they meant. I thought they were uneducated and to some extent I was right. My grandparents were raised in the depression era so working was more important than schooling. It’s not that they are illiterate, they just don’t know much else about other languages or dialects, which leads me to think they were uneducated.
Switching to my mothers side, they are in Upstate New York. The Adirondack Mountains are the backyard to my grandparents, aunts and uncles. In my eyes they were very country while I was growing up, I would even go as far to say hillbilly. They talk faster than my grandparents on my father’s side. Also, they have what I call a, “weird twang,” to their voices. I believe it is a mix of New York and French Canadian. That whole side of my family uses the word, “warshed,” for, “washed. ” For example my grandma would ask, “Do you have any clothes that need to be warshed Morgan? Another one my grandpa constantly uses is “I seen it” instead of “I saw it”.
I’m not sure if this next one is a speech impediment, but both my grandmother and mother cannot say onion, the first “n” sound is nonexistent when they say it. That one always made me giggle. Now that you’ve heard the background we can begin on how I made my own language evolve. It starts in Vicenza Italy; this is where I first started speaking English. My family didn’t live on the military base and we were surrounded by Italian accents so I picked up a bit of Italian- English.
My words had sort of an, “ah,” or, “ia,” sound to the end and my dad tells me I rolled my, “r’s,” a lot. Our neighbors who babysat me only spoke in Italian and I started with Italian words while staying with them, eventually I ended up mixing the little Italian I did know into my English sentences. After leaving Italy we moved to the western United States, out to Colorado. I’m really not sure if I picked up any western dialect, I don’t feel as if anything significant really stuck. We did plenty of traveling there and our next move was to New York closer to my mom’s original home.
I spent the last 12 years living there so I mostly have a Northern or New York City tone in my dialect now. I attended high school there and that is where I picked up Spanish. I took Spanish for three years in high school and really enjoyed the language. While in school a group of friends and I would speak what we called “Spanglish” based off the Adam Sandler movie where we would mix Spanish words into our English sentences like I did with Italian when I was younger. I also visited Mexico too and got to converse with authentic Spanish speakers, which was a great experience.
I’m not as fluent as I would like to be but in due time with a little more practice I should be where I want. Now that I live in the South maybe I will pick up the southern twang and start saying, “y’all. ” My friends back in New York have already told me I sound, “sweeter,” when they talk to me on the phone. So I guess I do have a special dialect after all. Not so much special as I would consider it varied. I believe traveling throughout my young life not only allowed me to adapt my language but be more accepting of others as well.