Friday, December 4, 2020

Alabama: Slow Talkers?


Snail in Caucasus Georgia, Gori region. August 2011.
Snail in Caucasus Georgia, Gori region. August 2011.


In Caucasus Georgia, they say that people from the Racha region speak so slowly, they begin a sentence on Monday and don't finish it until Wednesday.  

The Swiss like to say that people from the Bern canton speak very slowly (and move slowly). Here's a joke from the New York Times: 

Ask a Swiss to describe Bern and you may hear a joke about how the people move so slowly that even their souls take centuries to reach heaven. 

Because of COVID-19, I haven't talked to that many people in Alabama, but I've participated in some zoom meetings with Alabamans. I have noticed how s-l-o-w-l-y the meeting participants speak. Even the 'um' is long in Alabama: "Uhhmmm."     


I wondered if this was a thing Alabamans are known for, or if it was just my imagination, and I discovered this 2016 Atlantic Monthly article, about a study on how quickly or slowly Americans in different states speak. 

Well, Alabamans are slow talkers, but not the slowest, according to the above research. Alabamans are the fourth-slowest American speakers, with Louisianans being the second-slowest speakers. Interesting, as the speed of South Louisianans' speech never tripped my radar. Perhaps it was masked by the charm of their Cajun-Creole accent. 

You can go directly to the 2016 study source at Marchex here

But here is an interesting rebuttal to the slow-talking rankings. 

On kind of a related note: Many of my English learner students want to speak more quickly than they do currently, as they believe it is a hallmark of language mastery. 



Speak fluidly, yes, not choppily or with a monotone. But better to speak more slowly - making it easier for you to form the correct sounds, intonations, and rhythms - and thus easier for your listener to understand what you are saying.

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