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Opinion: Friends, Rome, Georgians, lend me your ears

Part of my job includes reminding our reporters about AP Style – that’s the official rulebook for language use as laid down by the Associated Press. Many of these rules I don’t agree with, and I encourage some to be ignored.

One rule I’d like to change regards U.S. House members.

AP Style guidance is to name the person, then, in parentheses, provide their party affiliation and the state they represent.

It seems a simple and salient practice, unless you consider the person and buffoonery of one Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Listing Ms. Green as (R-Ga.) is unfair to most residents of this state.

My recommendation would be to credit those local voters who unleashed her on our nation.

So, it would be: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome, Ga. or R-Floyd County, Ga.).

Give credit where it’s due, I say.

Greene’s continual outbursts are in contrast to a recent report from Preply, an online language learning platform, that recently ranked Georgians among the slowest talkers in the United States.

The report analyzed data from two nationwide studies based on YouTube videos and call recordings. It then ranked the average speech rates of Americans from 114 cities and in all 50 states. 

Georgia ranked 5th among states with the slowest talkers with an average of 4.89 syllables per second. The U.S. average is 5.09 syllables per second.

Here are some of the key findings in the Preply study:

  • The state with the fastest average speech rate is Minnesota at 5.34 syllables per second.
  • The state with the slowest average rate of speech is Louisiana at 4.78 syllables per second.
  • The U.S. city with the fastest average rate of speech is Portland, Oregon, at 5.38 syllables per second.
  • The U.S. city with the slowest average speech rate is Peoria, Illinois, at 4.71 syllables per second.

Those in the Southeast ranked way up there in slow speech.

Having lived in the South for almost 40 years, I’ve learned to love the musical lilt of the local dialog.

Few things aggravate me more than actors, mostly from other regions, who feign Southern accents for their roles. They’re often preposterous and almost always exaggerated. Have you ever heard someone from Nebraska try to say “y’all?”

Oddly, the actors who can best nail a genuine Southern accent are British or Irish. (Tell me Kenneth Branagh isn’t dripping with perfect Buckhead portraying an Atlanta attorney in “Gingerbread Man.”)

The Preply study does not address the content of speech, whether what’s being said is worth saying or the time it takes to listen to it. Nor does it say whether the speech is infused with banal interjections, like “like,” “sorta like” and “you know.”

Such a study would be valuable, allowing us to focus our attention on those most reliable for not wasting our time.