Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:
Here is a post I just now saw at the "DIXIE FRIED BRIDE" web site, "WHADDAYA MEAN, I TAWK FUNNY? A.K.A. LOST IN TRANSLATION", written by Dana Eskew.
THE SOUTH (the sau'th), noun:
The place where - - - ,
Tea is sweet and accents are sweeter.
Summer starts in April.
Macaroni and cheese is a vegetable.
Front porches are wide and words are long.
Y'all is the only proper noun.
Chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy.
Everything is darlin'.
Someone's heart is always being blessed.
Pecan pie is a staple.
When we first moved to Virginia, it was to an area that was previously a very rural farm town.
People had a definite accent, and my accent was nowhere near the local norm.
I started listening more carefully to the way things were pronounced, and began slowly softening up my New York accent to make it more palatable to the locals.
When in Rome, right?
What I wasn't taking into account is there's some things, no matter how well you pronounce them, that just aren't the same here as they were in New York - - - like, oh, say - - - tea.
If I order a tea up north, I'll get it hot, with a side of lemon or sugar and cream.
Order it here and I get sweet tea.
If I get barbecue anything up north, it's covered in thick barbecue sauce slathered ON the meat.
Barbecue is not so much a sauce, as a religion, and ordering barbecue more often means you'll get pulled pork that's been slowly smoked over wood chips, and then served up with a vinegar or mustard based sauce, depending on the region.
Sometimes, you even get a choice.
Order a "Cawfee" up north, I get a coffee.
Here, I get a coffee and a mighty strange look. (I've since learned how to pronounce the word, thanks.)
The phrase "Y'all" is used, along with "All y'all", and if you hear a woman say "Oh, Hell No!", you'd better look out because she is ticked off about something, and someone's gonna get a piece of her mind, bless their hearts - - - , in areas of New York where I've lived that would have qualified for an almost polite "no, thank you."
Then, I learned that there were completely new phrases and words for things that I had been completely ignorant of.
I won't lie, more than a few of these have made their way into my own everyday speech now, and I'm trying to teach my mother the value of just saying, "Bless your heart", for the annoying people in life.
But that's a blog post in and of itself, so back to the delightful Southern phrases I've been blessed to learn.
Speaking of blessed - - - ,
"Bless your heart/Bless his heart" - - - there's a dual meaning for this, I've discovered.
I've had people say it in a completely sympathetic manner, "Poor thing! Bless your heart.", and I've heard people say it in a more sarcastic, sometimes even catty manner, "Well, maybe she just isn't cut out to be a waitress, bless her heart."
Very often for a particularly annoying person, or as a response to said annoying person, they'll just say, "Bless."
"Cattywampus" meant crooked and was not a plant that grew down by the lake.
"Fixin'" didn't mean repairing, but to be on the verge of something, as in, "We were fixing to leave, but that truck here parked all cattywampus, and now, we're blocked in."
"Gimme some sugar" was not a request for sweetener of any kind.
"Hoecake" is not a pseudo-affectionate nickname for a woman with questionable morals, but rather a small cake made from cornmeal.
"Hoppin' John" is not a man, nor a dance, it's a traditional (delicious!) Southern dish most often served on New Year's.
"Hankering" has nothing to do with blowing your nose.
It's a strong or persistent desire, which would explain why, when someone commented, "I've got a hankering", and my reply was, "Oh, do I need a tissue?", they looked at me like I was crazy.
"I ain't one to talk", is almost always followed by "but" and that person is one to talk, and tell you everything you never wanted to know about people you probably don't know anyway.
"Like to" (in some instances) does not mean you actually would like to, but rather you almost did something, as in, "I like to die when that truck almost run us off the road."
"That dog won't hunt" doesn't refer to a dog or hunting, but an argument or line of thinking that won't work.
"The Civil War" - - - , don't say it.
Just - - - don't.
'Round here, it's the War Between the States, the War for Southern Independence, or the War of Yankee Aggression.
I have, happily, never made this snafu myself, thanks to my husband's very careful warning, but if you ever want to hear a room go so quiet you can hear a pin drop, go on ahead.
But, y'all will probably be labeled as, "Yankees", if you do!
Till next time - - -
Y'ALL COME BACK!
Ain't that plumb precious?
(Obviously, she's still learning - - - , the correct phrase is, "Y'all come back now, ya hear?")
Since I grew up in North Carolina, I reckon I could add a few things from my boyhood.
Our family's Summer vacations were always spent visiting Grammaw and Grampaw in Jasper, Alabama.
Grampaw took me fox hunting, and gave me my first drink of coffee.
He would give us kids rides on his mule.
I remember watching Tennessee Ernie Ford each afternoon on our black and white television, and he'd always end his show by saying, "Bless yo' pea pickin' little ol' hearts!"
Each Saturday night, we'd watch the Grand Ole Opry, and when I was a soldier on leave from Viet Nam, I actually went to the Grand Ole Opry when it was still performing in the old Ryman Auditorium, and of course, I also visited the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I'll never go to Opry Land.
It just ain't the same.
Not only that, but what folks call "Country Music" today is NOT Country Music!
In addition to pecan pie, another favorite Southern dessert is banana pudding.
Our house was next to the woods, where us kids would pick blackberries, which Mama would use to make blackberry cobbler pie!
And - - - ,
What is more deliciously Southern than good ol' WATERMELON?
I liked fried catfish, but Mama, who was born and raised in Alabama, told me only Yankees and Poor White Trash would eat catfish.
She loved fixing and eating okra and fried green tomatoes, but I never did like them.
In school, our teacher, who was the wife of a Baptist preacher, would frequently talk to us about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Bible, and nobody ever objected to it.
School days ALWAYS began with reciting the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
Back then, everything was racially segregated, and therefore, as I remember it, our communities and environment were much cleaner and safer.
In school, we idolized and revered our Confederate heroes, and every store sold Confederate flags.
Unfortunately, I'm probably the last person with a Confederate flag displayed on my pickup truck, and these days, you can't even find a store that sells Confederate flags - - - anywhere!
I'm proud of my biological (I was adopted) Confederate ancestor, Corporal Jonathan Trueblood, North Carolina Seventh Regiment, Confederate Senior Reserves (he was an old farmer, conscripted near the end, and was in the last major battle before surrender).
In the Summer, us kids always looked forward to attending Vacation Bible School at the Spring Lake Methodist Church, where we'd play games, sing songs, make things, and get Kool-Aid and cookies.
Here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, the dominant local culture is Creole and Cajun, and therefore, our mess hall here at the Armed Forces Retirement Home serves a LOT of rice and shrimp.
John Robert "SAIGON" Mallernee