Today I read of the Arizona law that forbids accented or ungrammatical speakers from teaching English and got to thinking about it. Who doesn’t have an accent?
Everyone knows Southerners talk funny, some more than others. Mississippians sound so slow but the Arkansans are worse—I was in boot camp with a girl from Vandervoort, Arkansas. You want to hear something funny? Find a native of Vandervoort, Arkansas, and ask them the name of their town. Southerners are definitely out.
Texans are out, too. They really do talk the way the rest of us think they do, and they persist in thinking that it’s perfectly okay to sound that way. No Texans need apply.
New Yorkers? Hahaha! Okay, that was funny. Tony Danza teaching English?
East Coast folks have accents. I didn’t know this until I was in the Navy and met a girl from Rhode Island; my goodness, did she sound funny! And those Bostonians? They really do pahk their cahs, and then they go inside to have a drink of wahduh. Can’t have that sort of speech in the classroom.
I lived in Chicago for a time, and what Chicagoans can do to the letter A ought not be done in public. It is twisted and bent all out of shape, flattened until it’s unrecognizable. Waterboarding may not be torture, but listening to Chicagoans pronounce the name of their city sure is.
North of Chicago, the Wisconsinites mangle their O’s almost as badly as those Chicagoans do their A’s. They drag out those nasal O’s like their sinuses are all closed off. Send them some Claritin if you like, but don’t let them contaminate your children’s English.
Anyone ever hear Ann Landers or Dear Abby speak? Thank their Sioux City roots for those ghastly twangs. I know the movie “In and Out” was set in Indiana and featured an English teacher who could speak lovely English, but that Kevin Kline is just another Hollywood liberal and besides, that teacher he portrayed was gay. He’s out, and so are Iowans.
Minnesotans? Forget it, unless you want your children to sound like they’re from some Scandinavian country. Not only would your children end up sounding funny, they’d be turned Socialist, too.
Montanans? Wyomingites? They probably sound okay, but they’re all Libertarians and so wouldn’t care to teach your children anyway, as it wouldn’t be of immediate and direct benefit to them. Sorry, cowboys won’t apply.
Black folks? No way. I don’t know what my KidThree speaks, but it sure isn’t the English I know and love. When she testified in court, the district attorney had to keep stopping her for definitions of what she said. God forbid your children should learn some of those words, not to mention that so-called 'grammar.'
Nope, you’re stuck. The only person I know who speaks unaccented English is me. Everyone else sounds funny at least some of the time. You’re stuck with me. I’m it. No accent at all, never have had, never will have. Goodness knows how I got so lucky, but my English is the right stuff.
But guess what? You can’t have it. I can’t live somewhere where my KidOne might get stopped on the street for having skin color on the wrong side of the spectrum, or where my KidTwo might not be welcome when people see or hear her un-English and so un-American name. I have the English you need, but I can’t live in Arizona, so you all are stuck.
You’re going to have to go back to speaking Spanish.
And then we can deport you.