Web Exclusive: Company cancels class to nix Southern accents, y'all, after complaints

Web Exclusive: Company cancels class to nix Southern accents, y'all, after complaints

(CNN/WATE) - We live in the South, so some of us may have a Southern accent, but would you consider saying "goodbye" to "howdy, y'all"?
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee was going to offer a speech class for it's workers next month to do just that. But enough people complained to get it canceled for good.

"Y'all" is just one of the words all true Southerners know how to say, but a new training class at ORNL was trying to help some employees get rid of their Southern twang. ORNL says they decided to offer the class after several employees asked for the training.

Late last Monday, ORNL's Human Resources department announced the optional Southern accent reduction training would begin August 13th, but after a number of complaints from employees, the class was shut down within 24 hours.

"It wasn't the appropriate way to communicate this and we've learned a lesson from that. There was certainly no offense intended and it certainly wasn't the intent to imply there's anything wrong with a southern accent," said David Keim of ORNL

ORNL employs more than 4,000 people from nearly 90 different countries. The accent reduction classes are nothing new, but targeting Southern accents is something the company hasn't done before.

The training was supposed to go for 6 weeks at the ORNL campus, but folks 6 News spoke with say their accent hasn't affected their professional lives so far. "It does set you a part a little bit, but no more so than having a Northern accent would," said Rick Rogers of Knoxville.

For some, they aren't willing to give up a piece of their Southern pride.

"We aren't going to quit being who we are. Do you go anywhere else and tell people to quit being who they are?," said Cathy Marcum of Knoxville.

ORNL officials say they are working with an outside company to offer a class to help out with Southern accents.


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