Charles C. W. Cooke: Southerners and Gs





Charles C. W. Cooke is an editorial associate for National Review.

Americans are not infatuated with class in the manner that the British are, but accents remain consequential nonetheless. How else to explain the Amazing Disappearing G, a trick of pronunciation that, whereabouts permitting, politicians on the campaign trail and beyond are keen to perform? Vice President Joe Biden, during his ignoble allegation that the Republican party has a secret plan to put black Americans “back in chains,” avoided the participial G as if he were fatally allergic.

Were we in the Southern states, Biden’s trick would instead be called the Amazin’ Disappearin’ G, and this has not been lost on any of this year’s presidential contenders. While Mitt Romney has much less of a tendency toward dropping his Gs than does Barack Obama, the Republican candidate is not wholly innocent: Touring the South during the primaries, Romney wished supporters a “fine Alabama good mornin’” and took to asking, rhetorically, “Ain’t that somethin’?” This while pretending to like grits, no less.

Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, why politicians do this is self-evident. But more interesting is why Southerners do it in the first place. The answer is surprising: Actually, Southerners are truer to “original” English voicing than are their G-happy Northern counterparts. Chalk one up there for Biden....



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