Company rejects class aimed at reducing employees’ southern accents

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Ever consider getting rid of your southern accent?

A Tennessee business’ Human Resource department was going to offer an optional class aimed at reducing and eliminating employees’ southern drawls.

But it was shut down after several complaints from employees at Oak Ridge National Laboratory within 24 hours of its announcement.

A spokesman for the Oak Ridge Lab says the class wasn’t meant to be offensive in any way to southern accent speakers.

The lab employs more than 4,000 people from 90 different countries.

Accent reduction classes aren’t anything new for the company, but targeting the southern accent is.

Training was scheduled to go on for 6 weeks.

Lab officials say they’re now working with an outside company to offer the class to potential participants.

Source: WATE/CNN


  • Susan Moxley

    What company was this? I don’t work for them but I’d like to write them a letter, especially since they are a company in the South and want people to forget their heritage, it sounds like. They obviously don’t know how true Southerners are – usually polite, friendly, and helpful, which sounds like they are not. “Bless their hearts” – they need some “blessing”!

  • Debbie

    Maybe instead of getting rid of our Southern Accent they should give those coming from other countries a class on learning the Southern Accent or maybe just ENGLISH! Come on they are coming to our country.

  • Maureen

    This is the south, we have a different accent when we speak, how about a class teaching people to speak with a southern draw if they choose to live here. I would like to hear about a class to remove the northern accent. Can we get serious here!!!!!!! We are who we are and the places we originate from leave their mark on us through our actions and cultural beliefs and yes how we talk. Appreciate the diversity and stop trying to make everyone robots.

  • Hobbes

    I took articulation classes while in college and had to take a lab designed to modify the Southern accent (which didn’t apply to me, but I had to complete the labs anyway). I can see the value in modifying harsh accents. But the larger concern I have (from my perspective) is professionals using bad grammar. That puts a bad taste in my mouth and casts doubt on the company. Just being honest.

  • M2

    Many times the southern accent is difficult to comprehend, especially in phone situations versus face-to-face. I know when I moved here to North Carolina, it was difficult when a neighbor, who I’ve mentioned this to before, says his name is Glenn. However, he pronounced it Ga-lee-an as if it were a 3 syllable name. It sounds like they aren’t trying to ditch heritage or regionalism all together, rather help employees clarify themselves by reducing the accent. Though it is kind of a target, as a business owner, I can appreciate what they’re doing. Wouldn’t people be okay if an American company taught its employees to rid themselves of a foreign accent? Another target, but beneficial to the company hiring.

    • Mary jane Rottenkrotch

      Great idea, but what if the same idea was applied to blacks? It is difficult to understand what some black yutes say, no? I say leave the accents alone. I thought “diversity” was a good thing, or so the media tells me so…

  • laffin'atcha

    I work for a very large financial firm with a call center in North Carolina. We taught trainees about their southern accents and there southernisms. We also had to overcome what was called BEV, black ethnic vocabulary. You didn’t axe a question and you don’t be stayin’ at yo crib.

    • funnystuff

      I like the idea of that, but an accent is altogether different than using words that don’t actually mean what you’re saying, e.g. axe instead of ask, crib instead of house/home, etc. Accent, vocabulary – two different things. Not exactly sure what you mean by southernisms… the use of “y’all”, maybe? (Note to others: it is y’all – a contraction of the two words ‘you’ and all’ – not ya’ll, which is a contraction of nothing. Punctuation is important, y’all!

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