In our first Live Chat Tuesday, some clueless fool (photo at top of page) made the following clueless response to the following question:
Q: Just curious, did the folks who grew up in Northern Virginia always not have Southern accents or is it more recent? Like if I meet folks from Falls Church or Mount Vernon in 1871 or 1936, what would their accent be?
Fool: It is part of our distinct heritage that we do not have the southern accents of the people outside of NoVa. Probably because so many Yankees invaded this area and overpopulated it...(more foolish blather)
Reader Mary Yuhas writes in to set us straight:
“Mr. Jackman responded to a question from one of his blog readers about whether or not people in Northern Virginia had southern accents in the 1800’s. He answered something along the lines of this part of Virginia has never had accents like the southern part of the state. That is simply not true. You can bet they had southern accents around here, as well as southern loyalties, in the 1800s.”
Ms. Yuhas continues:
“My parents were both native Northern Virginians --my mother born in 1922 and my father in 1919. They were both born in DC since there were no hospitals in Arlington (where they grew up) back then. My parents and their friends who also grew up in Arlington all had very distinctive southern accents (as did people in DC) -- specifically Tidewater, Virginia accents.
“In those days, many people from eastern (Tidewater) and southern Virginia migrated north for jobs, especially during WWI and WWII. Those people were the first waves of newcomers to what had been a sparsely populated northern part of the state up until then. They brought their southern accents and views with them.
“Northern Virginia was just as full of southern accents and the Confederate flag as other parts of the state at least up until the 1950’s. Yankees started arriving in larger numbers during WWII and stayed on, eventually outnumbering the southerners. But well into the seventies, you could count on hearing lots of southern accents from the aging descendants of WWI and WWII-era northern Virginians. Watch the movie “Remember the Titans.” That movie does a pretty good job of capturing what it was like around here in the sixties.
“Street names such as Jefferson Davis Highway (Rt 1), Lee Highway, etc., as well as school names such as J.E.B. Stuart, Washington-Lee, and Stonewall Jackson serve as reminders that this was, indeed, still the south until not so long ago (and check out the memorial to fallen soldiers of a largely forgotten, small Civil War fort called Fort Ethan Allen, tucked back in a residential neighborhood on Stafford St.and Old Glebe Rd. in Arlington -- the sanctuary and memorial are marked as being for “our fallen soldiers in the War of Northern Aggression.” If that isn’t a southern perspective, I don’t know what is -- right here in Arlington, which is now full of New Yorkers, Philadelphians, and Bostonians. I think it’s great that our area is now one of the most diverse, well-educated urban areas in the country -- but you still can’t deny our heritage, and there are reminders of it everywhere, if you just stop to notice.”