Monday, May 30, 2005


Almost 50 years ago I was in a little airport in a South American town. As usual for me in airports, I couldn’t figure out where to go for my next connection. I spoke no Spanish and none of the signs were in English. When I tried to find someone who spoke English, a tall, black policeman was pointed out to me.

The officer was very accommodating, very polite, and quickly solved my problem. His accent was interesting. He spoke English with a combination of Spanish and southern accents. I asked him if he had been to the United States, thinking that‘s where he picked up his southern accent. He said he hadn’t.

It suddenly occurred to me, and this was a revelation, the American southern accent is really a black accent. It was imported with the slaves from Africa.

I suppose that is well known among people who make a study of such things, but to discover it independently is memorable.

I have remembered it for almost 50 years.


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