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Poetry and snark blogger who also has a creative side (who knew?)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How To Talk Like a Southerner

Just returned from an awesome lunch of shrimp and grits, which got me thinking back to my years in South Carolina.  I was there for grad school and boyfriend (not necessarily in that order), and discovered that Southerners don't talk like you and I.  I don't mean the drawl either; that's obvious. I mean all the little turns of phrase which I had to learn to decipher and to acclimate my ears. That was an education in itself!

In this post, I'm fixin' to tell y'all about the funny things Southerners say.  Did you catch that subtle example?  They use the phrase "fixin' to" to mean "about to" or "I will."  I never did hear anyone say he was "fixin' to fix his car," but I suppose it would be possible.  Of course, y'all is really used in the South for the plural of "you."  I must say, I prefer hearing "What can I get y'all to drink?" from a waiter than "What can I get you guys?" which is what I hear most of the time here.  I'm not a guy, and I'm 46.  I really don't think "you guys" applies to me.

One annoyingly redundant grammatical construction I heard in SC was "might could," as in "I might could use that there gasoline to fill the tractor, but I'm fixin' to go behind the shed and huff it instead."  I guess the words "might," "could," or even "may" aren't iffy enough on their own to express the speaker's ambivalence or indecision, so the compound "might could" was invented.

In my work as a school psychology intern, I quickly learned about the phrase "showing his butt."  I got a call to come to a school to assist with a student who had been "showin' his butt all day."  I hurried to the school expecting to find a kid mooning in the hallway.  After a look around and finding no uncovered rears, I was thoroughly confused.  Turns out, "showing your butt" is a Southern way of saying causing trouble or being disrespectful.  Geez! That's SO much less interesting than a crazed student mooning everyone in the halls!

My favorite Southernism, though, is the way they insult someone.  No matter how nasty the comment, it's always said with a heavy coating of sugar and followed by a blessing.  For example, "Thank the Lord she found herself a fiance who doesn't need a pretty girl to make him happy."  Or "That poor child is dumb as a bag of rocks, bless his heart!"  Now that's a classy way to pone someone!  And who'd expect such class from such an unsophisticated region of the country, bless their hearts?!!

1 comment:

  1. Still can't get use to my brother in FL saying to whomever he is about to hang up on the phone with.........I'll talk AT you tomorrow .
    Have 3 grown grandkids in Arkansas & sometimes they can speak a whole sentence & I don't know what the hell they said. :0)


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