An intricate part of living in the South is mastering the local language…interpretation can vary depending on where you live. Its no secret, or shocker, that “creative” people can come up with interesting ways to describe situations, or get their point across. Southerners are most definitely “creative”.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie quotes…I bet you will recognize it, and it may be one of yours as well …“Honey, just ’cause I talk slow doesn’t mean I’m stupid!” -Jake Perry, Sweet Home Alabama. Hollywood has a tendency to portray Southerners as uneducated, unsophisticated, and many other less than flattering terms. While in some cases there may be a degree of truth there, far and away, I find Southerners to be smart, perceptive, engaging, resourceful and anything but dumb. I like to think that our slower speaking patterns, or “drawl”, are mostly due to savoring our moments together and allowing time to appreciate each others ability to communicate. In other words…words are valuable! Once you say them, you can’t take them back- so you better take your time in presenting them, and likewise, take your time in interpreting them. The Bible puts it this way…“be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry… James 1:19.
Dialect is different throughout our country- throughout the world for that matter! Everyone is fascinated listening to someone from Australia or Britain, am I right? I have been in situations where I might be the only “Southern” person in a group of people and realize that I was being engaged in conversation just so that they could listen to me speak- all I could do was smile, and think to myself “bless their heart!”… and that’s the first one! (LOL)….
“Bless Your/His/Her Heart” = what you say when you don’t know what to say…OR how you react to something unfortunate that has happened to someone else OR a polite way to disguise an insult. EXAMPLE: Can you believe it? My husband forgot our Anniversary, again! Reply: Aw, that’s terrible…bless your heart!
“Wore Slap Out” = when you have over exerted yourself and need to sit down a while. EXAMPLE: I vacuumed this whole house and I’m… wore slap out!
“It’s So Good It Will Make You Want To Slap Your Mama!” = I just have one question…WHO does that? And furthermore, WHY would you want to?
“Full As A Tick“= when you have had too much to eat. EXAMPLE: I shouldn’t have eaten that second slice of chocolate pie…I’m miserable! I’m…full as a tick!
“What Cha Up To”= when you call a friend to see if they’re busy. EXAMPLE: Hey girl! What cha up to???
There are a few personal favorites within our family. “Fixin To” is high on the list. Its always amusing to see the puzzled look on the face of someone who hasn’t heard the expression before. The question that follows usually goes something like this…”I’m fixing to go to bed.” “I didn’t know your bed was broken- what happened to it?” Next on our list is a “What-Cha-Ma-Call-It” or a “Thing-A-Ma-Jig”-which helps you straighten out whatever is “Catty-Wompass.” There’s nothing worse than getting a “Hankering” for a footlong chili cheese dog while the 10 pm News is on…Hello Sonic Drive Thru!
My Grandpa had a few favorites that he used routinely…“Dumber Than A Door Nail”, “Teenagers, Them’s The Worst Kind!”, and my ultimate favorite…“A Whistlin’ Girl And A Crowin’ Hen Always Come To Some Bad End“. I can still see him laughing as he said them.
My Grandma used to say…“Can’t Never Could” and “Face Your Fears And Get Them Out Of The Bushes.” That was her way of encouraging you to push through your fears and get on with your life. Her mother, my Great Grandmother, used to say…“Only The Vulgar New Rich Have Matching Furniture“- this may explain my appreciation for a “collected” home.
My Mom used to proclaim, “My Eyeballs Are Floating” when she felt it was time for a “pit stop” on long road trips. As a kid, I was gullible enough to believe her…so funny!
What about double negatives? Like…“Done-Done It” or “Aint Got No...” What do you do with those?? Or the mispronounced and misused words, like “Prostrate” for “Prostate” and “Seen” instead of “Saw.” I could go on and on…..but for now I will just “Sling” some “Slang” until its “Slung“!
I hope you have had a laugh or two, and perhaps my ramblings have brought some memories, sayings and slang to your mind too. If so, I would love for you to comment and share with me. We all need a good laugh, and to focus on sweet memories and humorous thoughts…especially in the midst of uncertain times.
Southerners are special people, near and dear…and I’m so honored to be one!
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things… Philippians 4:8