For six years I lived in South Carolina. I’m from Rhode Island. There are differences.

Some mornings I would spend a few minutes in a little coffee shop called The Doughnut Hole. As happens at coffee shops, there are “regulars” who gather every morning. The habit became my sitting between the same two men. To avoid blowing my cover I would try to give one-word answers with a pseudo-southern drawl or even better I would just grunt. One grunt for Yes, two grunts for No.

There came a day when one of the men said, “You don’t say much do you?”

I grunted twice.

“Where you’all from anyways?”

“Rhode Island.”

He looked at the guy sitting on the other side of me and said, “Rhode Island? You’re in a heap of trouble boy!”

We all had a good laugh. Whew!

In March 1944 J. S. A. Ensor, an employee of the Electric and Musical Industries, manufacturers of gramophone records in Middlesex, wrote C. S. Lewis asking about the possibility of the two of them doing a Q & A session. In the course of the conversation Lewis’s “Oxford accent” was mentioned. Lewis responds,

“The first time I heard my own voice on a record I didn’t recognize it and was shocked. Moral: A. No man knows what his own accent is like. B. No man’s accent is there because he has chosen it. C. It may not be the accent he likes. If all my critics cd. hear their own voices they’d be very surprised.”1

I’ve had people tell me I talk funny. Some live in RI. They have a point. They also have an accent.

“After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’” – Matthew 26:73.

  1. Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Vol. II (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 606. Italics in original.

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