(Wallace notes how “the native accent around here isn’t southern so much as just rural.”)
Spiritually Midwestern
Josh Roiland

It’s the same timbre one can here in Wallace’s own speech. John Jeremiah Sullivan has aptly described Wallace’s reading voice as “flattening and rounding off his soft, nasal, at times almost surfery Midwestern university English.” Wallace, himself, was self-aware of the regional inflection in his speaking voice, noting in his essay “Authority and American Usage”: “I happen to have two native English dialects — the SWE of my hypereducated parents and the hard-earned Rural Midwestern of my peers.” **

** In 1997 Wallace filled eight pages of a wide-ruled Mead notebook with “Midwesternisms.” The entries were comprised of regional idiosyncrasies of usage and pronunciation. Examples include: “Pronouncing ‘theater’ like it had a ‘y’ in it — theyater.” “‘Take ‘er easy’ instead of ‘Take it easy.” “Hundred as ‘hunnerd.’ Picture as ‘pitcher.’ Wash as ‘warsh.’”

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