Sam Burnham, Curator
I never was a fan of Duck Dynasty or Swamp People. I tried them, they weren't my thing. But one thing I did notice about it was the subtitles. It was like watching a foreign movie when you know the language. I had a hard time believing there were people out there who could not understand what the people on the screen were saying. I mean, they're just speaking English.
In the last few days I've seen some funny stuff online about LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron and the funny closed captioning that accompanies some of his speaking engagements and press availability. I must admit there are times that his accent gets thick and you gotta pay attention but I can understand him fine. The captioning is hilarious. I also enjoy the good-natured ribbing that Orgeron takes for his accent and I like the way he handles it himself. I am even happier that he has found work at major schools as there are many places where he would be subject to prejudicial discrimination for having such an accent. Many people would work to change their accent and mask their heritage in order to find work and avoid discrimination.
So, in realizing there is a segment of the population that obviously needs these translations in order to understand the Southern dialects, perhaps there should be some considerations for those of us who might need some translation of dialects that are unfamiliar to us.
Orange County Choppers is one example. They're making a return, or so I hear. When those two get riled up it can be hard to understand what is going on. Part of that is the screaming and the fact that every 3rd or 4th word needs to be bleeped out for decency. But a lot of it is because their accents get muddled and you can't understand it.
Dan Akroyd trying to do a southern accent in Driving Miss Daisy needs subtitles so real southerners can understand what he is saying. Whatever it is, it ain't Southern.
Then you start digging through the TV accents that are ubiquitous in media these days. Stephen Colbert jettisoned his South Carolina accent to make his voice sound like he's from...well...nowhere in particular. It is the most vanilla accent you've ever heard. It's not even vanilla bean. That's too exotic for it. Milquetoast. White bread. Sand. Nothing. Just boring blandness.
Then we have some others. Fran Drescher, Joy Behar, Barbra Streisand. Your remote comes with excellent translation tools for people with these dialects: [V chan ^] and [mute].
Then there are the ever preachy, ever critical, ever arrogant accents of Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Piers Morgan, those that sound a lot like you think Cornwallis or Gage might have sounded when they were trying to boss the colonists around. For them we just recall the sagacious advice of Lewis Grizzard, "Delta is ready when you are!"
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire