Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Speakin' Southern

As you may have gathered by now, my husband is a Northern transplant to our fair land here in the Southeast. Though he was born and raised on a huge family run farm near Kalamazoo, Michigan, and 100% plow boy, he had some trouble understanding the southern dialect when he moved here in 2000.

I do not think I have a very strong southern accent, but when I went to Michigan to meet my husband's family, I realized that, to them, I did; and it's not always about the accent as much as it is certain words, or "non-words", that are commonplace in the South and are complete mysteries to a Yankee.

So the Christmas before we got married (Christmas 2007) I bought a little book let for my betrothed, called "How to Speak Southern", by Steve Mitchell. It is absolutely hilarious, and there is so much truth to it!

Reading thorough it the other day (again) I realized that I, even with my excellent home school English and Grammar skills, sometimes botch the English language in my manner of speaking. And it cracks my Husband (and his other family members) up.

Here is an example of things I say without even thinking about it; and other peculiarly Southern vocabulary words. I have included sentences in which I have used these words/phrases. Everything else was written by Mr. Mitchell.

Dinner. The meal Southerners eat while Northerners are eating lunch. When Northerners are eating dinner, Southerners are eating supper.

Fixin'. Preparing. "Have you let out the chickens yet?" "I'm fixin' to! Lemmie finish my toast first."

Racket. Noise

Git. To acquire. "Mom, if you're going to Sam's Club, git me a great big bag of popcorn,will ya?"

Good ole Boy. Any Southern male between the ages of 16 and 60 who has an amiable disposition and is fond of boon companions, strong drink, hound dawgs, fishin', huntin', and good lookin' women, but not necessarily in that order. "I like that Walter Lea Thomas. He's a good ole boy."

Go To: Intend. "Don't holler at that horse; he didn't go to kick the fence."

Hale: Where General Sherman is going for what he did to Atlanta. (I do NOT say it that way.)

Hey: Salutation used by Southerners in lieu of Hello or Hi.

Idinit: Term employed by genteel Southerners who wish to avoid saying "Ain't." "Idinit 'bout time you got back to the hayfield, honey?"

Jevver: Did you ever. "Jevver find that wrench you were looking for the other day?"

Let on: To indicate the knowledge of, either by word or action. "Did she let on that she knew about it when you talked to her?"

Libel: Likely to. "When he finds out, he's libel to pull the plug on the whole idea all together."

Mess: A quantity of, usually enough for a meal. "It's not a big enough mess to can, but I'll fix 'em for supper."

Mite Could: Might Possibly. "I'll call David and see if he might could come out here next week and re shoe that gelding so he's not so daggum lame."

Not about to: To have no intention of. "I am not about to let the Government tell me I have to buy no stupid health insurance I don't want!"

Play Like: To pretend. "That's what they do! They play like they care so much, and then when they get elected, it's all about a big name and a bunch of money for them, s'all!"

Plum: Completely. "I am plum tuckered out from picking up all that hay..... "

Reckon: An expression of supposition or intent. "I reckon I'll run to the bank and the Food Lion this afternoon."

Robut E. Lee: The finest gentleman who ever drew breath and the greatest military leader since Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. (Just had to throw that in here.)

Smore: An additional amount. "Do you want smore chicken and dumplings, babe?"

Spittin image: Southern pronunciation of "spirit and image", meaning similarity of appearance. It was only a few years ago I realized this. I just always thought that "spittin image" was the original phrase.
"Emilie is the spittin image of Katie."

Tacky: An expression used exclusively by Southern Females and almost always in regard to wearing apparel. Can mean anything from unfashionable to downright ugly. "You don't want to buy that. That is just tacky."

Ugly: Unpleasant disagreeable, or mean. "ETHAN! You stop being ugly to your sister right now, or I will come over there and whup your butt, boy! And don't think I won't do it, either!"

Unnuther: One more. "Why do we need unnuther tractor? You have four already!"

Wore out: Exhausted, used up. "We gotta keep using that wore out stove till the kitchen is done, and then think about getting a new one."

Yankee: Anyone who is not from Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and possibly Oklahoma and West-by-God-Virginia. A Yankee may become an honorary Southerner, but a Southerner cannot become a Yankee, assuming any Southerner wanted to.

Funny thing is, I am not ashamed that I say those things. It's just the way I am and I am cool with it.

And Kevin has become an honorary Southerner, first by marrying me, and second by declaring that he loves the area, and would never go back to living in Michigan - it's too cold, he says. He prefers this climate. And he prefers his wife. And his wife will remain here forever.

So he's been accepted.

He even says "Ya'll".

I ruint him.



Herb of Grace said...

Mouahahaha, indeed :)I loved reading this. Although I would debate with you whether just saying "y'all" and marryin' in makes him an honorary Southerner. Can he tell the difference between a salad fork and a dessert fork? Does he ever eat dark meat chicken salad? *shudder* All these things are very important, you know.... ;)

Hosanna said...

Hold on a second. I thought it was just Southern Belles that needed to know these things? Dudes, too?
The salad fork isn't as much about the fork itself as it is where it is placed in proximity to the other forks; and how many courses will be served. Right?
The only forks that are actually different in design are "shrimp" forks, which have a long handle and a smaller, narrow "fork", and a fish fork, which has one tine sort of "hooked" for dealing with bones, yes?
OH and I had a thought. Iced tea spoons - those are obviously for adding sugar to a glass of tea, right? So they wouldn't be southern, because sugar has already been added to the tea in the South, right? So iced tea spoons, if this logic is correct, are Northern?
Am I nuts, or is there something to this? You're the one with the Southern Belle handbook, Lis.....

Mary said...

Something that is said around here that I have not heard any where else in the United States .. to turn off a light, you "cut if off" and if you are giving someone a ride you "carry them" to their destination.

Dawn Trest said...

this is hilarious...I can laugh because I am from Mississippi! Really enjoy reading your blog.