Ketchikan Underground and a Readdress of the Alaskan Accent

At long last, the official, public third version of Ketchikan Underground will be put online tomorrow at 3 p.m. Alaska Time. I can't wait for it to bring in a whole ton of community members and start becoming a true community itself again. Some of the BETA testing this last month on the site was amusing, but the participants were quite a limited group, and in at least one sense it was an example of what KU shouldn't be - that is, worthless.

I am definitely going to make a commitment to place nothing less than quality on KU, almost with the same standards as I'd have for SitNews, except with a lot more usage and testing. I think KU should try to emulate SitNews in some ways as a community forum, but it can also be much more through anonymity, (which of course has its pros and cons), polls, images, video - and certainly most importantly, comments. Even if you don't live in Ketchikan or have no connection with the town whatsoever, I still think KU would be a great internet forum for any of you dear readers to try out as soon as it gets up and running. Go there!

Quite a few recent hits here have stemmed from my previous commentary on the elusive Alaskan accent. In my own recent perusal of the subject I happened upon this rather infuriating article, which, I'm ashamed to say, apparently was written with the help of an Alaskan. What a blood traitor. See these quotes:
"Alaskan English even has a certain amount of 'Canadian raising' the sound change that makes a Canadian about sound something like a boot."
"Palin's frequent dropping of the final G in -ing words and her pronunciation of terrorist with two syllables instead of three are characteristic of general Alaskan English (and Western English) rather than the specific Mat-Su Valley speech."
If I knew how I would make a YouTube of myself, demonstrating how ridiculously ridiculous these assertations are. I am a third generation Alaskan, which practically makes me landed gentry here. Aside from early years in Hong Kong I have lived in Ketchikan my whole life, and I will tell you unequivocally there is no evidence of the assertions the Slate article makes in anyone I know or in any of my experiences. I say uh-bowt (with bow being the kind you take, not the one to string) and I have never seen any of the quirks of Canada apparent here, even though we're so close. I say terr-or-ist; I am not George Bush. My occaisional g-dropping, when it occurs, is entirely consistent with other kids my age across the country. Thankfully it seems the majority of Alaskans are willing to stand up for the truth as well, as evidenced by the many comments on the Slate article. Perhaps I need to emphasize this again:

I have never heard any of the "unique" features of Sarah Palin's speaking on the national scene expressed in the speech of any other Alaskan.

One thing to keep in mind is that Sarah accentuated and colloquialized her accent even more once she got on the national stage. Here's the YouTube of a section of that fateful gubernatorial debate I still remember watching all those years ago:

Now there is that baseline accent there, but compare Palin's attempts at eloquency there to another debate she did - the vice presidential one.

My question is, why the hell did she dumb herself down even more? Perhaps that was better than trying to seem intelligent - that certainly didn't work in the first video; Halcro and Knowles stomped her. Unfortunately, the rule of Alaskan elections prevailed in that race... and I've already talked about that enough. Thankfully, of course, said rule in no way applies to this good nation as a whole, and it is only we suffering Alaskans who will have to continue to listen to this ludicrous accent that is in now way our own.


  1. If anything, I'd say I have my British tendencies, not Canadian. I say some things with an accent. XD

  2. There is no such thing as a British accent. That adjective encompasses places from Ireland to Liverpool, Wales to London, Scotland to Cornwall... and natives of all those places speak very differently.

  3. Uhh then. I have a ... uhh... I dunno accent.

  4. Technically, there's no way to accurately label an accent. There are so many different possible accents for a region that it's impossible to select any one accent as the accent for a specific region. For example, Ketchikan and Wasilla are over 750 miles apart (unless Google Earth calculated my distances incorrectly), so there could easily be a difference between the accents, completely invalidating the notion of one "Alaskan accent." However, it's also entirely possible that Palin was using an at least partially faked accent to "create a character" to present to the public; she is a politician, after all.

  5. I've got numerous friends up in Anchorage, Dudey, and they have the same sounding "accent" as I do. I think it's a hoax she put on.


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