Fred had something on his blog the other week about Mountain English, and hillybilly jokes. (Fred, I have difficulty telling whether or not the Daily Blatt is back or not. Sorry about delinking you for so long - thought it was in abeyance.)
I have to admit that I've told dumb-mountain-hicks jokes before, and played up the whole "mountain man" routine. To be honest, I'm not hill country - I grew up in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, which, while hilly, isn't Appalachia - more like yunzer territory, strained through a generation-and-a-half of suburbanization. But the full beard and the glower fool people into thinking I'm something I'm not - a local - and thus I'm in a position to play games with expectations. I don't know, is that a sort of blackface? If so, I apologize.
I don't generally have an ear for dialect - I can barely identify my own, let alone replicate that of others'. I do think that dialects are dialects, and t'heck with these goofy half-languages - I don't care if you have an army, you're still mostly English, or mostly Dutch, or whatever. Which reminds me of this highly amusing post about the trials and travails of "UlsterScots", newly-recognized minority-language of the EU.
But I never had to lose my yunzer accent, nor was I pressured to do so, aside from the twice-yearly finger-waving article in the Pittsburgh Press or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the horrors of sounding like a Arn City hunkie. In fact, when I remembered to, I often played up what little accent I had while I was at college, doing my best to drive the Philly folk bonkers. It still drives Dave Asher nuts whenever I propose to "worsh" some clothes.