Plen’y of heart and plen’y of hope! : Accents in Oklahoma!

In preparing for a role, actors and actresses go beyond learning lines to embody a character.  They need to convey emotion, and depending on where the play or musical takes place, they may also need to learn to speak in an accent. 

An accent is “a way of pronouncing a language that is distinctive to a country, area, social class, or individual.” Those that study language and its structure are called linguists. 

The musical Oklahoma! is set in 1906 in farm country of the Oklahoma territory. Oklahomans pattern of speech is categorized by linguists as a South Midland dialect. Their Southern speech patterns can be traced back to early settlers who came from the Southeastern United States to settle in Oklahoma. Many accents in the United States can be traced back to when and by whom an area was settled.

The most notable speech patterns in this specific dialect include:

  • Speech pattern is much slower
  • Vowels tend to be drawn out
  • Vowel breaking – short vowels like cat and dress turn into diphthongs (or even triphthongs). Example: cat becomes ka-yut, dress becomes drey-ess.
  • Monophthong – The diphthong in words like ride and lime tend to be pronounced as a monophthong. Example: rah’d vs. rah-eed
  • Rhotic – voiced  “r” before consonants
  • The vowel in words like thought and long tend to take the “oh” sound. Example: thote and lohng versus thawt and lawng
  • E to I and I to E reversal – Example: pen becomes pin, been becomes bin, tin becomes ten, etc.

Come join us at the theater March 14-17 and 21-24 and be transported to 1900s Oklahoma! We got a beautiful feelin’ that everything’s goin’ your way!

Tickets are selling FAST! Get yours now! Tickets can be purchased at and please call the box office with any questions (920)826-5852!