Part two in our series “Adjusting to Southern Life”
In the previous post in our series to help those moving south adjust to our ways, we discussed the considerable slowdown of lifestyle. This said slowdown isn’t just reserved for day to day activities. It also plays a role in other facets of life, such as speech. When it comes to speaking “southern”, molasses is the name of the game, as in “slow as….”
Words should be drawn out, often adding syllables, not denoted in Webster’s Dictionary. For example, the word, “mail” to a northerner is just one lonely syllable. A southerner does a fine job of turning the lonely syllable into two, pronounced, “ma-el”. Do you see the distinction?
Proper names receive the same attention. While in the north, the common trend is to shorten a name to one syllable when possible (i.e Robert to Bob, Suzanne to Sue, Michael to Mike). A southerner takes pride in the length of their name. “Bob” would likely be affectionately called, “Robert Lee”. “Sue” becomes Suzanne Clarabelle” and “Mike” would be “Michael Beauregard” . To further extend the name, it’s not uncommon for all three names, first, middle and last to be used.
In addition to the slowdown of speech, there are several terms and phrases it would be useful to know if you are moving south.
Y’all – can be used to refer to a group of people or even just one person
Bless Your Heart – This one is tricky. It could be a true sign of compassion or a blanket statement on the obvious downfall of another, such as, “why isn’t Suzanne Clarabelle joining us for lunch today?” “Oh, well, you know, she had a hair appointment with a new stylist yesterday, bless her heart.”
Might Could – a classic example of adding words when not needed – “Suzanne Clarabelle might could make an appointment with my stylist to fix the mess the other stylist made, bless her heart.” It should be noted that one could also use, “might should”
Comin’ up a cloud – looks like rain
You Know Not – You’re joking
Bar-B-Que – this is a noun, not a verb. In the north, it’s what we are doing on the grill, in the south it’s what we eat.
Pig Pickin’ – this is an event. Y’all will just love this. A pig-pickin’ is when a pig (just about all of it) is thrown on a large cooker. When it’s done cooking, folks pick right from the pig. What comes from the pig is known as “bar-b-que” (see above)
These should get you started. Being hospitable and all, we welcome your comments and observations on the southern vernacular. So leave a comment, ya’ hear?