Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In S"Other"n Words

Let me start by saying one of my very best friends, C, is from New Jersey.  And yes, I am aware that makes her a "Yankee", but I love her anyway.  After all, no one's perfect, right?  One of our most entertaining, and long running, subjects of conversation is southern colloquial English. Ya'll know what I mean... that's when you comment on something entirely different from what you're talking about so you can say exactly what it is you mean.  For those of you who are fluent in southern colloquial English I'm sure that is "clear as a bell", and for those of you who aren't quite so fluent it might only be "clear as mud."

Now C lived in Arkansas years before so she was familiar with the language, but having spent the last 30 years in New Jersey, she had lost her ability to be fluent.  This meant we spent a lot of time laughing at one another, she at me because I spoke in these silly little phrases that made no sense to her and me at her because she didn't understand these silly little phrases that she should have taken to using like a duck took to water.  I should probably mention that neither of us tends to take ourselves very seriously and therefore laughing at each other was, and still is, perfectly acceptable.  After all, it's always done in good fun and there's no reason for us to get our tails in a twist, our panties in a knot, a bee in our bonnet, a thorn in our paw..... you get the point.

So over the years we have discussed, dissected, and defined phrases such as:
"drinks like a fish"
(Those fish that drink actually do drink constantly, I googled it!)
"brown as a biscuit"
(It's recommended you use the correct SPF or you'll find yourself "red as a lobster" instead.)
"rare as hen's teeth"
(I've never actually seen hen's teeth, so if you find some call me! I'd like to come and look at them.)
"cute as a bug's ear"
(I've never actually seen a bug's ear either, but I understand they can be quite attractive!)
"happy as a pig in slop"
(I have seen this, and I'm here to tell you that pigs are extremely happy in slop!)
"hoppin' mad"
I have also seen this! And for the record it was a woman from Pennsylvania, AKA: another "Yankee", and she actually hopped, from one foot to the other while shouting!  She was mad that someone had the audacity to hold a gun raffle, and planned to raffle off a real gun... in the south.  Really?!?! 
"dumb as dirt"
(I think we can all agree that dirt is pretty dumb.  I mean have you ever seen it do anything but just lay there and let people walk all over it?)
"she's anyone's dog that wants to hunt"
(For those of you who know what this means, enough said.  For those of you that don't, trust me when I say you don't want it applied to you!)
"sweet as pie'
(This one should be easy, but if you're having trouble, I recommend eating some pie while you think on it.)
"chap's my hide"
(Don't do this to me!  I don't like it and I tend to be very vocal about it.)
"running around like a chicken with its head chopped off"
(For a less graphic image, picture Kevin Bacon in "She's Having A Baby" when she starts having the baby)
"as much good as spit in a puddle"
(This is why we have review websites, to avoid this problem.)
"scat Tom, get cha' tail outta the gravy!"
(This was a favorite of my great grandmother's.  She used it when someone sneezed and a simple "God Bless You" wouldn't suffice.  For anyone who's wondering Tom isn't a person, he's a cat.)
"a month of Sunday's"
(It's going to be a while.)
"he's lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut"
(This is pretty low, and he might even be seen keeping company with the above mentioned "hunting dog".)
"couldn't say sense with a mouth full of pennies"
(Give it a minute, it'll come to you.)
"it'll take quick thunder to make it turn loose"
(This one was said to me by my grandfather one day when I was attempting to make a pet out of an undomesticated and somewhat unpredicatable animal (with teeth).  Don't Do That!!  I don't know how quick "quick thunder" is, but we had a drought this summer.  I wouldn't take the chance.)

These are just a few examples of what has been, and still remains to be, a great source of entertainment over the years. 

However, I should mention that southern colloquial English dialect differs from southern state to southern state as well.  A few years ago we had family drive up from Alabama for a funeral.  When they arrived we immediately rushed out and greeted them, hugged them, and began trying to feed them.  (It's the south, that's what you do when someone's tuckered out.)  My grandmother then said to my cousin H, "How did you leave everyone?" With a somewhat puzzled look on her face, H replied, "We just got in the van and drove away."

I couldn't help it.  (not that I tried very hard)  I laughed!!!  It was funny!!  My grandmother wanted to know if everyone that stayed at home was in good health.  I could tell by the look on H's face she wasn't sure what she had gotten herself into, as this woman was obviously crazy as a loon.  We also introduced them to "brown beans", otherwise known as "pintos" in their neck of the woods.

A few months later we drove down to Alabama for a family reunion where they returned the hospitality when they cranked the truck and carried us to town.  When it was time to leave we just got in the vehicle and drove away.


  1. What a great post! I love those sayings. They just make me fee right at home!

  2. LOVE!! :) Just got a chance to follow you & will definitely be keeping up!

  3. Thank you Jen!! Glad to have you along! ;-)