I taught public speaking for better than 20 years, coached a high school speech team for at least 5, became a member of Toastmasters in 2010, and was raised with the expectation that I would use the English language correctly and speak clearly.
When my mother was going through some of the memorabilia in her house with me before she died, she unearthed her handwritten elocution notebook. In her lessons, she was expected to copy passages into the notebook, memorize the passages, and speak them clearly.
Now, I can imagine my mother and grandmother rolling over in their graves. I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my ear, “You had better not start speaking like that.”
“Like what?” you ask.
Like the general populace in Middle Tennessee. Because, you see, less than a month ago, my husband and I moved to a wonderful community south of Nashville.
One of our first days here, we were sitting at a small community restaurant and deep in discussion with the regulars.
Someone had asked me a question and, according to my husband, I had heads turn when I answered, “I am going to go up and pay the bill.”
My husband, in his infinite wisdom, corrected me. “You’re fixin’ to pay the bill. No one says ‘going to.'”
“I do,” I responded.
You see, I won’t correct people on their regionalisms in speaking even though hearing them is like someone raking their fingernails across a chalkboard or a choir singing off key. It sends shivers up my spine, makes the small hairs stand on end, and has me baring my claws.
My husband chuckles, however, convinced that in the end I will be “fixin’ to go over yonder to see ya’ll.”