What's in an Accent? Outsider Credibility

Voters ready to lend their ears to the unique mishmash of Western dialects
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2008 10:06 AM CDT

Some say folksy, some say Fargo, and some say shrill. Whatever it sounds like, Sarah Palin's accent is getting more attention than anyone's since JFK, Daniel Libit writes in Politico. The accent—which linguists peg as a mish-mash of Western dialects—is a fresh one for presidential politics, after decades in which "political genuineness has been embodied by the Southern drawl."

“This is an original voice that doesn’t sound like Washington, doesn’t sound like an insider, doesn’t sound at all like what we have," says a Republican strategist, noting that "the center of American political life is moving west." Meanwhile an accent expert observes that Palin's voice is more "female" than that of most women candidates, who tend to speak in a "homogenized timbre" to compete in a male-dominated arena.  It's an attention-getter, she notes: “‘Oh,’ they think, ‘she sounds like us, she sounds like me, she understands me.’”

(More accent stories.)

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