The best S.C. accents

Staff ReportsOctober 20, 2013 announced last week that in a survey of 2,000 men and women, the Southern accent, as spoken in South Carolina, was voted the most attractive of all North American accents.

The Southern accent overall was preferred by 36.5 percent of the respondents. So it’s a honor shared by Georgia, Alabama and other Southern states.

Wikipedia calls it “Southern American English.” Pronounce the word “pen.” If it sounds like “pin” you might be talking Southern American English.

We think it’s no surprise that the South Carolina accent — from the Upstate to the Lowcountry — is so attractive.

It’s the lilt and call-and-response cadence, the stretching of one syllable into two (or three), that makes a South Carolina politician’s speech sound more sincere, a Lowcountry author’s voice more seductive, and an Upstate woman’s exclamation of “bless her heart” sound a bit like a Cheshire cat, purring, but ready to claw at you.

Who has the best S.C. accent? We’ve compiled a short list. See if you agree. Share your own choices with this story at

Former U.S. Sen Ernest “Fritz” Hollings — Sometimes his folksy talk was mocked (see the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn) but this charismatic Democratic politician never was accused of being boring.

Honorable mention: The late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond; U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham; U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn

Businesswoman Darla Moore — Her speech to USC students after she lost the USC Board of Trustees seat was one big “bless your heart” to Gov. Nikki Haley, who parted ways with her politically, so to speak.

San Francisco 49er Marcus Lattimore — His soft-spoken demeanor makes him sound like he’s every mother’s son.

Honorable mention: Former football great William Perry — Straight up country, with a voice like a meat-and-three.

Danny Ford — National championship coach of Clemson (who, technically, grew up in Alabama) has the classic coach’s ability to speak with the right balance of brotherly love and fire and brimstone.

Author Dorthea Frank Benton — Her laugh can be heard from the Lowcountry.

Historian Walter Edgar — Listening to him talk on the ETV Radio program “Walter Edgar’s Journal” and you imagine him on a front porch, with a tall glass of sweet tea.

Honorable mention: Naturalist Rudy Mancke, whose short snippets on ETV radio take you into the swamp or the kudzu, has a soothing voice, like he’s talking to the animals. (he's also a native of Alabama, but has been here for a long time(.

Racer Cale Yarborough — The four-time winner of the Daytona 500 and veteran NASCAR driver’s voice is all swamp and dusty like a dirt track in the summertime.

Rhett Butler — The fictional “Gone With the Wind” character was from Charleston; he was able to charm the snot out of Scarlett O’Hara. Clark Gable’s portrayal was one for the ages.

And the not-so-great accents...

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards” — We love that South Carolina is represented so well in this Netflix series. But Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) is from the Upstate town of Gaffney; his accent has a bit too much Charleston.


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