Send it to the Crick: A Student's Reflection on Dialect Differences

By Matthew Hilliard
Mountain State University
February 14, 2002

Dialect Main Page

Note: This reflection was written as part of a reaction journal in Judy Teaford's English 102 class (English Composition II) at Mountain State University.

Back in 1993, I had just graduated from Paramedic school and was looking for a job; unfortunately, I was having no luck. One day I was talking to a former classmate, and she was telling me about a company that was hiring in southern West Virginia. I was familiar with the northern half of the state because my father had recently gained employment at an aluminum plant in Ravenswood; however, I had never been to the southern half of the state.

After having no luck finding a local job, I decided to contact Jan-Care Ambulance. When I called, a woman answered the phone saying, "Jayne Cayer." At first I wondered what she was trying to say, but then realized that this was a Southern dialect in which she was speaking. I began telling her about my interest in employment and was inquiring about some of the activities that you could partake in during the summer time. She continued in her sweet southern voice, "Are all yall gettn out of skewel at the sayhme tam?"

After talking for a few minutes I was thinking to myself, this is somewhat funny; yet, she had a dialect that I found interesting. I had rarely talked to people from the South and at times, I caught myself mimicking her dialect while answering her questions. Although she may have thought that I was mocking her, in reality, I was trying to focus on what she was saying to the point that I was repeating her Southern drawl. Once we had established that I was interested in the position, I proceeded to give her my address. When I received the letter that she had sent me, it read the following: Max Hillyerd, 40 Church Lane, Falls Crick, Pa. When in actuality, I said to her Matt Hilliard, 40 Church Lane, Falls Creek, Pa. Now who was the one who talked funny?

Mathew's later note: After reviewing the information on the lesson plan for Nell, I felt that this story fit well with the differences in dialect from one state to the next, and though I may think that Appalachians sound funny when they speak, I may be the one who sounds funny.

See also Questionnaire on Linguistic Attitudes and Literature

This page's last update: 11/30/03