Standing in the kitchen the TV suddenly gets unbearably loud. It’s a commercial. Either the station or the network designs it this way so that we can hear the commercial from anywhere in the house. I thank them for this, otherwise I’d be all confused when I go to buy something at the store.
The commercial was about a non-stop flight to Jamaica. But, that isn't how they said it. “Fly Blankety Blank Airways non-stop.” I wonder how you get to the place you want to be if they don’t stop?
We are supposed to say alleged before some criminal act if the criminal hasn't been convicted yet. However, in an AP story, a crime rampage allegedly included a shooting. I’m wondering did the rampage include the shooting or not?
We Southerners are famous for our lack of perfect use of the English language. So how do we communicate so well? It is perfectly plain when someone asks how my mother and family are doing.
“How's Mamaanthem?” That's the pronunciation, but how it is written is completely different. You would read it: How's Momma and them?” The term is used like this, “How’s your Momma and the folks?”
Unfortunately, Southerners are not well known for perfect grammar. Big surprise. Which is probably why we also have no problem understanding what “Yeetyet” means. It is proceeded by “Didja”.
Northerners usually don't understand this is a friendly invitation to lunch, or dinner, or breakfast… whichever part of the day it happens to be. We are not being nosy. Southerners will almost always have a repast available no matter the time of day. So when asked, “Didjayeetyet?” the polite response would be, “Whachagot?”
There are numerous dialects in the South, however. I haven’t mastered all of them, yet. One’s ear must be tuned to the dialect for a clear understanding of what is being said.
The Cajun accent is quite unique and the dialect is even more so. It is terribly difficult to write the way the words sound because it truly is a foreign language unless you've grown up around it. You can learn it, but the nuances are not as discernible if you haven't heard it for most of your life.
For the Cajun, plain English is not really plain to the average Southerner, say from Georgia. You've got the bleed over from Southern Texas and from Southern Mississippi which makes life's conversations so very interesting.
One Cajun plain English example are the terms “Making” groceries and then “Saving” groceries. That had me scratching my head when my friend used the terms twenty years ago. She had to explain that making groceries is when you buy them and saving them is when you put them away. She actually said, “Like saving your clothes.”
Tradition plays a huge part in our language it seems, because she had always said it that way.
“Please be patient, our operators are working as fast as humanly possible,” an announcer blasted at me. I wonder is that faster than Speedy Gonzales? How is it compared to baboonly possible, or is it compared to snail's pace? We are humans and I’ve seen some humans that snails would beat in any race, and a Speedy Gonzales or two. What is the point of that phrase—humanly possible? How about “before quick can get ready”? Or how about “like a duck on a June bug”? That makes a whole lot more sense, right?
My aunt from Oklahoma and I have a running joke. She, (and my mother, too) is from Oklahoma. They do not have eggs and legs in Oklahoma. They have “aigs” and “laigs” which rhymes with laid. She also says, “Rough” for “Roof”. I keep telling her it is a “U” sound. We don’t say “But” for boot.
I know I’m on the right track here because just this week I got my annual reminder in e-mail that our language is funny. It talks about “how the bandage is wound around the wound,” and “the insurance was invalid for the invalid.” Or, my particular favorite, “There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.” You would really have to work hard to work that into a real conversation.
Who talks that way, anyway?
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it like white on rice.