America’s Loveliest Accents: Baltimore

I’ve never been to Baltimore, but I would like to visit one day. I’ve never watched “The Wire,” but I’ve seen a couple of John Waters movies.

I also went on a date once with a woman from Baltimore. She herself mentioned her accent, in particular that she pronounced her hometown’s name as [bɒɫdəmɚ], like “Bald o’ mer” (this is different from the stereotype I later heard with “Bowlmer”). It didn’t work out, but I’ll just say that I found her very attractive, including her accent and not despite it.

And yes, this is kind of a lame post. That’s the point: that I can say something nice about this accent and a lot of others without doing any research whatsoever. You can too.

I’ve avoided following the original Gawker series “America’s Ugliest Accent,” that inspired Josef Fruehwald’s blog post that inspired this series, but Ben Trawick-Smith (no relation that I know of) has a summary of other people’s reactions to the Gawker series, and adds his own.

There are other accents that weren’t part of the Gawker sixteen, and that I may discuss at some point. I’ve lived in New Mexico and North Carolina, which both have very interesting accents (North Carolina actually has several; just ask Walt Wolfram and his colleagues). And my native Hudson Valley accent doesn’t get much attention at all, living as we do in the shadow of the New York accent.

In conclusion, you’re entitled to your own feelings about any accent. But to reinforce what Fruehwald and Trawick-Smith said, usually the opinions that people hold about an accent are just the opinions they have about the speakers of that accent, thinly disguised. Accent prejudice is ethnic and class prejudice.

If you wouldn’t put up with someone saying that black people look ugly, then don’t put up with someone saying that black people sound ugly. If you wouldn’t put up with someone saying that New Yorkers are uneducated, then don’t put up with them saying that New Yorkers sound uneducated.

Question your own prejudices. If you find yourself judging people for the way they pronounce certain words, or correcting them, ask yourself what it is that really bothers you.

Set an example. If you hear someone speaking with an accent that could invite rejection or ridicule, do your best to treat them with the same respect that you would anyone else. And if you notice that you’re criticizing your own speech, take a minute and give yourself the space to love yourself for who you are.

This is part sixteen of a series where I say nice things about all sixteen of the accents that Gawker’s Dayna Evans nominated for “America’s Ugliest Accent.” Previously: New Orleans.

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