“Hey that's mines!”
I looked over at my squabbling classmates. Without thinking I interrupted.
“Actually it would be ‘mine’ not ‘mines’.”
They stared at me. I flushed and returned to my book, regretting my outburst.
This kind of interaction has happened to me many times throughout my life. As I got older I started ignoring incorrect grammar as I discovered slang. I did not want to be labeled ‘grammar Nazi’ or be considered stuck up. It made me feel like how I spoke was too different and wrong.
When I was younger, I used larger and more complicated words than kids my age. I was shy, so I didn't talk to my peers. I did not have many friends at school because all my buddies lived farther away. This situation made me feel separated from my classmates. Instead, I would sit with the adults and listen to the things I didn’t understand, but gave me a feeling of importance. I felt that if I wanted to talk with the grownups, I would need a bigger vocabulary; I looked in dictionaries and watched documentaries to sound older and more knowledgeable. This detached me from my classmates even more; they did not like how I spoke and I did not like how they spoke. Looking Back, it was not very important for me to correct them, because that was their environment showing through. If I did not want them judging me for how I communicated, then I should not have judged them for it.
I have been told that my West Philly accent is not very strong, even though that is where I was raised. I do not use most Philadelphia slang as my parents never used it. My Mom grew up in Louisiana and my Dad is from New Jersey. They both have subtle accents, and their language style has impacted some of how I speak. I believe my way of speaking is a blend of my parents and the area I grew up in.
This does not mean that my dialect never changes. My location can affect how I speak to others. Like most students, I am more respectful in my speech at home. I do not curse, and I use proper sentences and grammar. At school I tend to be more loose tongued, louder and willing to use slang or inappropriate language with my peers. This also happens in other environments; when I visit my friends in South Philly, my words slur together subconsciously. I adapt to the dialect like Slyar from Heroes or Absorbing Replication. For this to happen I do not even have to leave my house. I have found that if I when I watch a show from a different region, I also pick up a bit of that dialect shown on the show. The first time I noticed it was when after watching seven or more Doctor Who episodes in a row, when I spoke to my sister, I used some of the jargon from the show. This confused me and my own way of speaking sounded strange after.
My dialect is not incorrect because it is not the typical way of speaking for where I live. It can show how I was raised and what influences me. Just because someone else's accent differs from mine, does not mean that one of us is superior to the other. My dialect is mine, and everyone else has their own. You can learn a lot from someone from how they communicate; they may fall into a stereotype or they could be completely different. If your going to judge, do it by who they are, not what they sound like.