by Ann Ipock
I recently read that with the huge influx of Northern folks moving South, our Southern dialect is predicted to die a slow death, first being diluted — then drowned — then done GONE. Hush your mouth! Say it isn’t so! Not that I have anything against “youse guys” for y’all or “Bois-tun” for Boston. OK, I lied — I do. But along with pearls, white gloves, parasols and gardenias, our language is as big a part of our Southern heritage as, say, our vittles: grits, collards and boiled peanuts. And I aim to preserve it.
Lest this horrible prediction come true, I hereby solemnly swear to do my part to keep Southern colloquialism alive and well. And since I haven’t written about my late, great Granny Pinky (Ida Henrietta Hurt Morris) in forever (it seems like) what could be more natural than to highlight her now?
She was the epitome of Southern charm and grace.
Though she didn’t speak in tongues, she often spoke tongue-in-cheek and had more clichés than Doans has pills. Granny’s brogue was a thick, eastern North Carolina one — sounding at times like the Harker’s Island “hoi toiders.”
I noticed she entertained certain phrases and ideologies that were unique to her — so much so, that I sometimes had to translate to my friends who sat there dumbstruck. For me, the language she spoke was easy to understan, as common as black flies on a split watermelon at a picnic. But when she said, “The good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” I’d tell my puzzled friend Jane DelRosso — who came from Pennsylvania — what she really meant; that being, “If everything goes all right.”
My sister Cathy and I devised our own Pinkyisms recently, things we remembered that Granny said. They’re original and spontaneous. And though I’m not asking you to “forward” this list via email — you can thank me later — I am asking you to make a concerted effort to use at least three of these phrases every single day for the rest of your life. This should ensure our Southern stability, which I’m calling PASS: Preserving America’s Southern Society, a school of sorts, if you will.
Here we go: The answers are at the end of the column. When you get through reading them, simply read them again and again, until they “stick.” We’ll start off with “expressions” and then move to “words.”
1. “Indeed, you are not” means: A) you’ll get a whooping if you do B) quit nagging because the answer is “no” C) an oxymoron
2. “No one will ever notice” means: A) everyone will be staring at you B) no one really cares C) an oxymoron
3. To “jerk a knot” means: A) to tie your john boat up to the dock B) a strategy to try to get your chil’ren to behave C) to tie on a fashionable scarf
4. “The devil is beating his wife” means A) it’s raining while the sun shines B) the Dirt Devil is being used to vacuum the hardwood deck outside the single-wide C) the wife is losing the race
5.“Putting up damatoes” — tomatoes — means A) placing tomatoes way up high on your refrigerator shelf B) canning tomatoes in jars C) putting up WITH tomatoes that are bruised or mealy
6. “Mommock up the furniture” means A) to rearrange a room B) to lay in a Pawleys Island hammock C) tear up the sofa, loveseat and milk-crate end table
7. The “glove compartment” means A) the tiny box inside the car for storage B) the place in the store that sells gloves C) another name for “pocket” of the car
8. “The boot” means A) the trunk of your car B) footwear for cowboys C) pushed aside
OK, now I’d like to test your knowledge of certain words.
1. How do you say “oil?” A) all B) oy-yul C) awel
2. How do you say “pen?” A) pin B) pee-yun C) pan
3. How do you say “roof?” A) rhymes with “aloof” B) rhymes with “hoof” C) top of the house
4. How do you say “insurance?” A) in-shonce B) in-shor-unz C) when is the hurricane going to hit?
5. How do you say “umbrella?” A) UM-brella B) um-BRELLA C) parasol
6. How do you say “declare?” as in, “I declare!” A) I de-kly-uh B) I de-clear C) Idee clare
7. How do you say “river?” A) ri-va B) riv-her C) ree-ver
8. How do you say “pencil?” A) pencil B) pun-sell C) pint-sul
Expressions: 1)A 2)B 3)B 4)A 5)B 6)C 7)A and C (fooled ya!) 8)A
Words: 1)B 2)B 3)A 4)B 5)C 6)A 7)A 8)C
If you scored a perfect 16, you could be an instructor at PASS! If you scored less than 10, you’ve got a lot of reciting to do. If you scored less than 5, it may be too late.
Just kiddin’ folks! We love you Down Here, no matter where you’re from! Y’all do come back, now, y’hear?
Leaving Plane Phobia Behind
Sushi in the South
Ann is a biweekly humor columnist with the Georgetown Times, South Carolina’s oldest newspaper.
Whether we are hearing about Ann’s unspeakable accident—the time she got the mayor’s mustache caught up in her dental hygiene polisher, her view on prissy Southern women who actually resort to toothpicks after meals—(those thick fake nails just can’t possibly remove spinach from one’s front teeth), or her frustration with sticking to a budget—the normally-$100 supper club night she hosted which turned into a $2400 remodeling job (blame it on the new carpet), we can only think of one thing to say, “Tell us more!”
Life Is Short, But It’s Wide (In the Southern State of Reality) is Ann’s second book of humor columns. Published by Carolina Avenue Press, the book was released in September, 2003. Her first book was entitled What Was It I Was Saying? She is a regular contributor to Sasee Magazine, and she also writes for Pee Dee Magazine, Strand, and Gateway Publications. She is active in community theatre, where her favorite role to date was that of Truvy Jones in Steel Magnolias. Her day job consists of being a home-based, self-employed medical transcriptionist for twelve years.
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