“She was ready for his voice by that time, too: the flat, metallic nasal sound of the Great Lakes with its clear hard r’s and its absence of theatricality. Dull normal. The speech of her people.”
My people, too. That line comes from Hairball, a short story by Canadian author Margret Atwood. I never thought of such a thing as a Great Lakes accent, yet Atwood described what people from Buffalo to Chicago to Green Bay, Wisconsin sound like. I’ve lived a few places other than the Midwest so my accent is not quite that bad, but when I was growing up in Buffalo I had friends who went to the baynk, said thaynk you and ate cayandy. I had a dog but some of my friends had kyats.
I googled “regional accents in the US” and learned indeed there is such as thing as a Great Lakes accent. Phonologists define the accent as Inland North dialect of American English. It is essentially "standard Midwestern" speech. According to Wikipedia, if you speak that way, you are in the company of some notable personalities including Jim Belushi, Dennis Franz, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Suze Orman, Bob Seger and my brother-in-law Jerry.
When I was younger, my Canadian cousins would tease me about my “American” accent. They, like Atwood, are from southeastern Ontario, also in the Great Lakes. But I guess Canadians have their own sub-variety of the accent. It’s usually pretty easy to tell a Canadian by the way they talk, eh?
You can learn a lot more about the accent, including its Northern cities vowel shift if you are interested. For me, I will just say I know a Great Lakes accent when I hear it, thanyk you very much. It’s not exactly music to my ear but it does feel like home.
Happy Thaynksgiving to all. I am thaynkful for friends, family, food, and many other things, including diversity. Life would be boring if we all sounded the same.