James Lileks
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A survey of the nation's top 10 "most attractive accents" has been released, and, as you might expect, "Southern" is No. 1, dahlin'. The second pick immediately discredits the entire survey because it's "New York." I mean, it's different, but rubbing a cheese grater on your ear is different, too.

At No. 9, we have "The Minnesota Accent." In other words, the Fargo accent. Ya sure, you betcha. Say there well, I don't know 'bout that. Jeez that's something' there, isn't it?

You might say "charming, amusing, guileless, unique," but attractive? As in sexy? It's hard to imagine some stranger in a bar learning you're from Hopkins and siding over, looking all smoky, and saying, "Talk 'Sota to me, Tiger."

I don't speak like that. Maybe I did, once, but I had a speech coach in high school who extirpated all our Upper Plains accents in favor of General American, the preferred accent of soulless TV people.

My dad had an Upper Plains accent, and, for all I know, I was ya-sure-you-betching until I encountered the withering scorn of our coach. She had an exacting precision that made Katharine Hepburn sound like she had a mouth full of novocaine.

In a way, I wish I did sound like that. When you're in another state and you tell people you're from Minnesota, they're disappointed when you don't give them the ya-sure lingo.

But we live in the city, where the accents are different. My friend the Giant Swede, if I listened attentively, probably has a note of his father's Texas tones. My friend the Crazy Uke has intonations of the old country he got from his dad. They'd both be proud if you pointed it out. Listen to some clerks or baristas talk, and you get the Zoomer TikTok uptalk fry. You hear a dozen different shadings in the course of a day.

Outside of the metro, it's different. You can reasonably expect to find the classic Minnesota accent once you slip the surly bonds of The Cities — although you're more likely to hear it from a nice lady who runs the antique store along Hwy. 10 than the young cashier at the gas station. The ubiquity of the internet is planing our regionalisms smooth and replacing them with the mannerisms and affectations of internet videos, and also, my lawn, get off it.

Now, the odd part: The criteria for the survey included the following keywords: "charming," "attractive," "sexy," "provocative, "seductive" and so on. The Minnesota accent isn't designed for seduction.

Consider a Shakespeare love sonnet: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, and summer's lease hath all too short a date."

The Minnesota accent version: "Um, so, nice day out there, like you, if you don't mind me saying. Although it's not like you're one of those humid days where it's like walking through soup, but you get a week or two of that every year and people still complain

"You're not like May because we've actually gotten snow in May, you know. I guess, maybe more like that solstice, the longest day? It's not like it feels shorter the next day, but, boy, it really goes downhill at the end of August, doesn't it?"

Poetry it isn't. But if you've been away a long time, nothing sounds sweeter. Doncha know.