THE LANGUAGE: Sounds of the South

Northern Democrat: I like the man, but I have trouble with his accent.

Southern Democrat: What accent?

Jokes aside, the fact is that not since Lyndon Johnson—who liked to go to the well, nail coonskins to walls and keep the creeks from rising—has the nation harked to a presidential candidate whose voice tintinnabulates with the sound of the South. Compared with Jimmy Carter's soft Georgia drawl, however, L.B.J.'s Pedernales twang was absolutely abrasive.

Singsong Effect. Northerners were startled when Carter referred in his acceptance speech at New York's Madison Square Garden to "Eye-talians."...

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