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Lex Miller

Dr. Rand
UWRT 1103H
September 9th, 2014
North, South, East, West, All U.S.

Id like to think of myself as the greatest example of an American. The kind of


American that people completely foreign to this nation think of when they imagine an
American. Unlike the majority of our citizens, I dont associate myself with one area or
region of the country. This is a particularly unusual characteristic due to most Americans
custom to claim that they are from such and such, instead of just saying, Im from
here [America], as if their home doesnt lie within our nations boundaries. Coming
from an extremely nomadic military family, I believe the term linguistic chameleon
would describe me perfectly. By this term of course, I mean that I am able to speak so
that someone from every region of our nation can understand me. This is what makes me
the greatest example of an American; I am not defined culturally or linguistically by one
region of the United States. With the linguistic attributes I attained from each region, I
carry with me a piece of culture from each region as well. With that being said, I defy the
stereotypes that each region of the U.S holds.
In order for one to be successful in an area, one must be able to accurately
interpret, understand, and intellectually use and relay the language of that area. In order
to properly express ones ideas and be understood is to be articulate. I, against my will,
have been forced to learn a variety of languages within our nation in order to survive.
Being a child, I of course was not fond of consistently being uprooted and torn away
from my friends and comfortable home. I had no idea that later on in life, I would greatly

appreciate being able to look back on my amazing opportunities to learn and obtain both
linguistic and cultural characteristics of many areas in the United States. While both my
immediate and extended family speak Western New York, my immediate family have
also found it necessary to learn a plethora of American languages such as those out West
and in the Deep South.
My language affects who I am as a person because I hold parts of every region in
this nation within myself. I am able to understand and relate to all different types of
people in the United States. Because of this, I believe I am articulate of the United States.
Also, all the places I have lived in this country have contributed to the development of
my personality, beliefs, and opinions I hold. With that being said, I do not believe nor
follow any stereotypes of the regions I have lived in and when individuals approach me
with those stereotypes, I try to dissolve them. Not everyone from the south is religious
and just because they speak slowly does not mean they are unintelligent, and people from
New York are not all selfish and rude. In fact, most people that make these assumptions
and believe stereotypes of regions in the US have most likely never been there before.
Moving frequently has caused my dialect to change. When moving down south I
learned to soften my vowels and not speak as fast. I also had to learn to change certain
words such as pop and crick to soda and creek. At first, this transition felt
awkward, but as aforementioned, I was young and wanted to fit in. Later on, it became a
habit and felt natural. As depicted in many movies and TV shows, the southern drawl and
use of yall is widely known. Unlike many stereotypes that entertainment exaggerates,
these are true of the South. Of course, the southern accent wasnt exactly something I
could learn and pick up overnight, much like the acquired taste of sweet tea that I still

find repulsive to this day. However, speaking slower and understanding that yall
meant you guys/you all was something that I found necessary to learn quickly. I had
always thought that the slow speaking of southerners had a correlation with that persons
intelligence. However, I have learned that life goes slower in the south and the people are
more relaxed, therefore their speaking is just the same. Understanding this, has led to me
becoming a more relaxed person overall. Before living in the south, I felt as if everything
was rushed and needed to be done as soon as possible. Southern living has taught me that
sometimes its okay to do nothing but sit.
Saying life out west was the opposite would be an understatement. Living in
Henderson, Nevada, not 10 minutes away from Las Vegas, I truly believe everyone
operated on a work hard, play hard mentality. I watched my mother work a 9-5 sitting
at a reception desk, pick up waitressing hours after work, and then use her tips on a
nickels machine to see just how much of a profit she could make from that nights
earnings. It is here that I learned that I learned the discipline of hard work and continuing
to work hard because eventually it would pay off. I still believe this and I believe that it
has made me very successful academically. While this contributed to my identity, my
language was also molded by Sin City. Anywhere else in the US, a person with a poker
addiction is typically called a gambler, where in the west we call them slot zombies;
and 86 in the service industry meant something was missing. Language wise, due to the
prominent number of Hispanics that live out west, I spent the majority of my time either
speaking Spanish, or being confused and speaking Spanglish. Either way, what I was
speaking, was not something I spoke on the eastern side of the US.

Although I speak many languages, Buffalo is what I speak best. We Buffalonians


like to over-pronounce and emphasize our vowels. We have a flat A which makes
words like Amherst sounds like Aymherst. Similarly, our pronunciation of e makes
words like bed sound like bad. The Buffalo region is also home to a large number of
Polish and Irish people, which I consider myself both. Their accent carries over into
words like cold, which sounds like colt. We also tend to give possession to things
that dont need possession at all while also inserting the word the in places it doesnt
need to be used. An example that sheds light on both of these things would be You can
get it at the Kmarts on Transit. Kmart doesnt own anything yet thats just how we say
it. Throughout the U.S, many make fun and mock the strong vowels in the Western New
York accent. This is probably due to how exaggerated and heightened the words sound
for absolutely no reason at all. Along with the language, living in Buffalo for such an
extended amount of time and constantly going back has contributed to the majority of my
identity. Buffalonians are passionate and loyal. We also tend to believe that we are
capable of accomplishing things that we arent necessarily capable of accomplishing.
With these traits that I hold, I believe that being a buffalonian has led me to not only be a
good friend, but to be motivated and driven.
Because I have witnessed both the positive and not so shining moments of all of
the areas of this country, I thrive for people to be able to see what I have seen and to
acknowledge that there is beauty in the fact that our nation isnt symmetrical and all
regions have different assets to bring to the table that make this country so great and
successful. This asymmetry of dialect, language, behaviors, and customs all within one
nation is exactly what makes this country so beautifully diverse. To hold stereotypes and

judgments as true before witnessing for oneself is to deny the U.S and its citizens of
Americas natural beauty.

REFLECTION:
1.) I believe the most successful part of my paper is the fact that it is not cookie cutter
this is what I know how to do and how I got there. I would like to think that my
paper shows appreciation and complexity of how I acquired said linguistic
chameleon skills. Also, my goal was to demonstrate how kids that come from
military families or even families that just move frequently contain the ability to
be able to go back and forth with language and local customs.
2.) I am proud of my ability to actually write this. I took 18 years and summarized
one aspect of those 18 years into 4 pages and hopefully thoroughly explained it
step-by-step.
3.) One part I would like to go back and work on if I could would be to elaborate to
my audience (complete foreigners) how or why those stereotypes came to exist
and why they are not true. Also, to write a preface to my paper describing the
choice of organization of paragraphs.
4.) When drafting this, I paid no attention to the organization of paragraphs.
Although when asked why I wrote the paragraphs in the order that I had, I held no
answer. After rereading multiple times, I realized that I wrote the paragraphs
describing each of the three regions in technically chronological order but also in
order of how I choose to remember my time spent in each area. Although I was
born in the South and essentially spent the first 6 years of my life there, in my
mind I spent the majority of my childhood and learning in the north. During this
essential period of learning right before becoming a teenager, I moved to Vegas,
where I started paying more attention to my surroundings and asking questions.
And here I am now, back in the south, taking in and digressing and reflecting on
all my experiences and tidbits I learned from each region. An adult now, I look at
Buffalo as a security blanket and home, I look at Vegas as a learning curve, and
I look at the South as a place to take what I have learned in the past and go
forward.