John Moore: Speaking Southern is more than just an accent, it's a language all its own

In Southern speak, a coke is a soda pop. If someone says they want a coke, you ask them what kind.

Southerners have our own language.

I'm not referring to our accent, although a Southern accent will get you free beer in a Yankee bar because they like hearing us talk.

No, I'm referring to how we describe things and get our points across.

Down South, we all get a Coke. But we don't all get the same brand. A Coke is what you call a soda pop. If someone says they want a Coke, you ask them what kind. They may want a Dr Pepper, but they'll say they want Coke first.

Directions in the South always include the word yonder. Over yonder is a distance outside your own property. You go over yonder to church or a friend's house. In yonder is inside your house, such as the living room. And out yonder is normally in the front or back yard.

‘Fixin to' is a modifier for when you are about to go over, in or out yonder.

We may save some of what we had at dinner to eat at supper. Southerners eat breakfast, dinner and supper; not breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are suspicious of anyone who says they participate in anything called brunch.

If someone is pitching a hissy fit in the South, stay away from them. If they're pitching a hissy fit with a tail on it, keep a little extra distance. For those who aren't familiar with a hissy fit, it is similar to being madder than a wet hen.

Y'all is singular, all y'all is plural, and all y'all's means everyone.

In the South, we piddle and reckon. Piddling isn't something that you need to go see a doctor for, it's how we kill time. When we reckon, we are letting you know that we have figured something out. "I reckon so," is interchangeable with "I imagine so."

If someone says that they are livin' high on the hog, or they're in high cotton, it means that they're doing well.

Speaking of wells, extreme cold in the South is compared to a well digger's posterior.

In the South, any bump on your head is a pump knot. Pump knots can be caused by a fly ball or because you forgot that you left the cabinet door open when you stood back up. Pump knots are graded by how long it takes someone to say "Big ‘ol" before they describe your pump knot. If they say, "That's a Big ‘oooolllll pump knot," then you know it is sizeable.

Southerners have nice ways of calling you stupid. "If that fella had an idea, it would die of loneliness," "He ain't got the sense that God gave a goose," and "His brain is like a BB in a boxcar," are all versions of the same theme.

Most Southern women just say, "Well, bless her heart," when they are talking about a woman who is perceived as short on sense.

A man who presents himself as being a cowboy, but is just a city slicker is described as "All hat and no cattle."

A child who is enjoying a meal is, "Smilin' bigger than a possum eatin' a sweet tater."

A man who doesn't move fast is, "Slower than molasses runnin' uphill in winter."

Someone who is happy and content is, "Fine as frog's hair," when they are asked how they are doing.

So, if you are planning on visiting the South, consider this a free primer for your visit. And all yall's are welcome.

For more of John's musings, visit johnmoore.net/blog

 
 

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