Recently I've had several conversations with a woman who says I mean at least three times in any sentence. In between I mean she sprinkles Um, Like and then, of course, Um Like. I know that some teenagers tend to use like and you know a little too often but this woman is 50-some years old.
Conversing with her is downright painful. I want to scream Get to the point! She's a business associate so she's not someone I can take aside and gently suggest she not speak until she has her thoughts more composed.
I don't sound like William F. Buckley but I have worked on my speech for many years. I am a born and bred New Englander, specifically Rhode Island. There are several different accents to be found in this one little state of only one million people. Most are not very pleasant to listen to and often ridiculed, usually by the rest of us.
I have tried to 'neutralize' my accent. I focus on pronouncing the G's in words ending in i-n-g. I try to put my R's where they belong and keep them out where they don't belong. My favorite example of both is Columbee-er Rivuh. Seriously, that's how many RhoDyLanduhs say Columbia River. I could go on and on with examples of some of the funny ways we talk but you would think I'm being unkind; probably funny but unkind.
While traveling in the U.S., we used to say that we're from Rhode Island, now we just say New England. I got tired of being asked "Isn't that an island off New York?" No, you geographically-challenged dumbbell, that's Long Island.
In my real estate business I often meet relocation clients; people who come from all over the United States and abroad. Eventually the conversation comes around to where I'm from. Usually when I say I'm a native Rhode Islander I hear "You don't sound like you come from Rhode Island." I usually say, thank you, thank you, I have worked to NOT sound like a Rhode Islander.
I used to have a friend who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, whose accent I found kind of cool. He knew I had worked on my 'accent' but every once in a while, usually when I was in a rant and got 'tawking' fast he would start to laugh. "What are you laughing at?" "You sound like you're from Rhode Island!"
Well, um, ya' know, like sometimes I just can't like help it.