Dear Annie: For the past 18 months, I’ve been dating a woman who resides two states south. We are planning on her moving north to live with me. My problem is her thick Southern accent.
“Beth” habitually holds the last word of a sentence and draws it out. Her voice slides up and down when saying a simple word such as “town” so that it has multiple syllables. A couple of my friends have also noticed how pronounced her drawl is.
I have hinted to Beth about it on occasion, but it hasn’t made a difference. I have to admit, this speech pattern is both repulsive and abrasive to me. Beth has many loving qualities, but I worry about the drawl. I can barely tolerate it now, and I fear it will eventually drive me crazy.
Should I confront Beth about it? I don’t want to hurt her feelings. – Need Your Input
Dear Need: There are other factors to consider. If Beth moves north, her speech will adapt to her surroundings, and over time, she would likely lose a lot of her accent. You also could speak gently and lovingly about this. Don’t say her drawl gets on your nerves, even if it’s true. Say that if she is going to be living in your neck of the woods, she might want to shorten her words so she fits in better.
Of course, she may become protective of her accent, believing it is linked to her identity, and be resistant to change. If she has other qualities that you appreciate, we advise first speaking to her to see whether she is receptive and then being patient.