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ibnana quotes Claudia Smith Brinson:

... Southerners have long labored under such stereotypes: hick, redneck, yahoo, country bumpkin, no-nothing, mush mouth.

It's intriguing those notions have held so well, especially since at the same time that the South was known for its low educational standards, it was also known for its wonderful writers: William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Ellison, Lee Smith, Gail Godwin, James Dickey, William Styron, Reynolds Price, Peter Taylor, Doris Betts, Josephine Humphreys and on and on.

Perhaps we were appreciated for our eloquence, but not our grammar.

I'm familiar with many of the writers mentioned. They are rightly appreciated not only for eloquence but for skill and sensitivity to the language, including grammar. The Southern literary voice is one of the greatest glories of American writing, but it's worth noting that it is mostly the voice of an aristocracy, not of ordinary Southern people.

The ordinary Southern voice is segregated into the realm of song lyrics and other "minor" forms. And in these vernacular forms, there are many Southern works of genius. Stories by Eudora Welty and Terry Southern, songs by Robert Johnson, and on and on. In these works there is a grammar of colloquial Southern English that is as eloquent as any other grammar. It's another of the glories of American literature.

The stereotypes are really just ignorance and ought to be ignored as such.

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