Has there ever truly been a genius who had a thick, stereotypical Southern accent?

Stretching the concept of “genius” to include “doctors”…

Seems to me that even if you graduated from University of Florida and attended University of Mississippi Medical School, you would be dealing with enough people in college and on the job that didn’t speak with a stereotypical “Southern” accent (whatever that is!) that you would shed the rough edges of your accent quickly enough.

Good thought.

Pioneering cardiac surgeon Dr. Alfred Blalock was born and raised in rural Georgia. He was nominated multiple times for the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work.

Paul Prudhomme was regarded by many as a genius in the kitchen.

Absolutely. I suspect that higher education is a big factor in attenuating one’s accent (wherever it’s from) – in part because, even if you attend a school in a deep-Southern state, many (probably even most) of your professors won’t be from that area, and many of your fellow students won’t be, either.

Most of the members of my group of college friends (who were also my D&D group) went on to get doctorates, and to become professors. My understanding from them is that it’s frowned upon to try to get an academic position at the school where you got your degree (particularly your advanced degrees), and it’s also very common to relocate as you move up the tenure track.

So, even if your professor at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine is actually from Mississippi, odds are high that they went elsewhere for at least part of their education. Just picking randomly, here’s the profile for Dr. Chad Washington, the head of the Neurosurgery department at Mississippi’s medical school:

  • He’s probably originally from Mississippi; he got his bachelor’s degree at a small college in the state
  • He then got his Master’s degree at Vanderbilt
  • He got his MD at the University of Mississippi
  • He interned, and then worked, at Washington University in St. Louis for several years, getting another Master’s degree while he was there
  • Before returning to Mississippi, he got a neuroscience certification from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the NIH, in Bethesda, MD

The human tendency to associate strong regional accents with a lack of intelligence is regrettable.

It’s said that Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Richard Feynman had such a strong New York accent that acquaintances thought he sounded like a “bum”.

Feynman was highly successful anyway, but another scientific genius’s achievements were dismissed due to his Philadelphia accent.

So sad.

*while possibly not a “genius”, renowned surgeon Dr. “Red” Duke, whom I knew when I worked in Houston, had a strong Texas accent, wore a cowboy hat and drove a pickup truck.

It’s funny that this thread popped up when, just last night, I happen to see a Taskmaster clip where they made the joke that “strength of regional accent is directly related to lack of intelligence”.
First/opening joke here. If you’re not familiar with the show, Greg typically introduces “little” Alex Horne in a similar way. I like Sophie’s ‘what happened’, but I don’t know her well enough to know if that genuine or an act.

Perhaps not a genius but my first thought was Shelby Foote, a prolific Civil War author. He had a lyrical accent.

I don’t know about genius but I once worked with a very smart computer programmer who had a thick Alabama accent.

Does winning a Nobel Prize count as a “genius”? If so, then John Forbes Nash Jr.. Now, he was from West Viriginia, the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains specifically, so his Southern accent, if he ever had one, would be markedly different from the Georgia of Foghorn Leghorn or the Alabama of Forrest Gump. There’s also the fact that I’ve not heard any audio of him speaking as a younger man; as an older man he sounded so feeble and aged that no discernible accent really comes through.

She often said Capote was a genius.
He was undoubtedly southern. Altho’ he cultivated some weird accent that was his own creation.

Faulkner for sure. A genius and literary giant.

@kayaker , you are a bad man!:smirk:

Seriously, this thread could be considered very offensive. But as a southerner I can tell you we have good manners, for the most part. Never missing a chance to use our Yes mams and No mams or our Bless your heart dears.

So “Bless your heart”

The workings of a genius brain do not have accents.

he was in top 5 for Fulbright Award

A question for the OP:

You don’t consider Travis Taylor a genius, even though the Wiki article you link lists his academic accomplishments as:

Taylor earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Auburn University in 1991, before going on to study at University of Alabama, Huntsville where he earned a MS in physics in 1994, a PhD in optical science and engineering in 1999, and a MSE in mechanical and aerospace engineering in 2001. He then completed a MS in astronomy in 2004 at the University of Western Sydney before earning a second PhD from University of Alabama, Huntsville in aerospace engineering in 2012.

Seems to me you gotta be purty gol-durned smart to earn all of those degrees. Not sure what qualifies as genius-level intelligence, though.

I would certainly consider Taylor to be as least as intelligent as Zuckerberg, who you list as being nearly genius-level smart.

Michael DeBakey was from Lake Charles, LA, and Denton Cooley was from Houston, TX, to name another couple of pioneering heart surgeons.

I’ll be gollydang flabbergasted if you can set clear criteria. Failing that, can you give us your top geniuses with:

  • a thick Irish accent?
  • A thick Boston accent?
  • A thick New York accent?
  • A thick California accent?
  • A thick Australian accent?
  • A thick Jersey accent?
  • A thick Minnesota accent?

This may just be one of those threads where the OP never returns, in which case, :roll_eyes:

The person who posted the first post, TJEckleburg, only joined the SDMB on April 17. They have started several threads since then. it’s not clear how often they are checking the replies to the questions that they ask. This is reasonably common, I think.


Here’s an interview with her from 1964. Definitely a thick accent. I recall some mention from her or Capote that both of them were uncomfortable with their accents. Yes, Capote’s accent was clearly an affectation.

Genius with a thick Irish accent: Garth Ennis, creator of Preacher graphic novel series

Genius with a thick Boston accent: Any number of people, I’m sure, who pock their cahhh in Hovad Yod, if you know what I mean. :grinning:

Genius with a thick New York accent: Can’t think of one off the top of my head, but New York City has way more smart and creative people than most of the South.

Genius with a thick California accent: Californians have accents? (Yes, I know they do sort of have accents/use terms that other regions don’t use, but not very recognizably).

Genius with a thick Australian accent: Australia was founded by what some might consider the bottom of the British gene pool (criminals and ruffians), so you make a good point that, like American Southerners, it would be difficult and rare to find a genius with a thick Australian accent. Also, the number of Australians that have achieved any significant recognition in the U.S. or elsewhere is sadly confined to only a handful, so far. However, Steve Irwin, despite lacking much higher education, was a liberal and an environmentalist, and knowledgeable about wildlife and biology. Also, if New Zealand counts (and yes, I know, New Zealand and Australia are NOT the same thing), then the two gentleman from the music group and TV Show Flight of the Conchords are talented, creative, and accomplished, though not exactly geniuses in their own right.

Geniuses with a thick Jersey accent: Funny enough, I Googled recently “What percentage of New Jersey is Italian?” and was shocked that the answer apparently is a mere 14.5%. Surprising, isn’t it (or maybe it’s just wrong…)? However, as I mentioned above, New York City has lots of creative, moderately intelligent or higher people in it, people who benefit from living in a city with every type of culture and mindset imaginable represented constantly in a kaleidoscope of expression, so I’m sure there are plenty of Jersey-accented people in the NYC metropolitan area who have significant intelligence and education.

Geniuses with a thick Minnesota accent: I’m to understand that movies like Fargo vastly exaggerate and misrepresent the way most Minnesotans speak, most of them not sounding like that. However, despite not being the cultural center of the US/ world like NYC or Seattle is, even the cold isolated Midwest North of the US is generally less ignorant, close-minded, and inbred than the Deep South.