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By Nash Black
The other morning as I was paying for my breakfast, the clerk called me, “honey.” I had to stifle a laugh though I was a bit surprised it was a guy. He wasn’t being disrespectful, he was unconsciously using a term he’d heard all his life. The geographers put Kentucky in the Mid-West, but we know we’re southern. Our speech gives us away when we open our mouths.
The most famous , of course, is y’all. In the South, ‘y’all’ is singular, ‘all y’all’ is plural. Outsiders frequently mess it up with variations and television has added a northern expression of ‘y-guys’ to our vocabulary.
It shows up when we’re giving someone directions. We seldom mention miles for a distance but patiently explain how long it will take to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.’ Every once-in-a-while you see someone wave a finger in a general direction and say ‘yonder.’ Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between ‘right near’ and ‘a right fur piece.’ They also know that ‘just down the road’ can be 1 mile or 20.
Going to the grocery or the auto parts store? Southerners know exactly how long ‘directly’ is, as in: “Going to town. be back directly.” An old way to say it is ‘by and by’, for example, “I’ll be back ‘by and by.” You might remember it from the song, In The Sweet Bye and Bye.
Southerners know how many fish, or how much greens, peas, beans, etc., make a ‘mess.’ Then there is that breakfast favorite, they know ‘grits’ come from corn and how to eat them with cheese grits being supreme.
The different kinds of mad are expressed by the difference between a ‘hissie fit’ and a ‘conniption fit’. You don’t HAVE ‘em, you PITCH ‘em.
A friend called a bit ago and used the term ‘reckon’ for ‘know.’ Then we have the habit of dropping letters from words like the above ‘em. One of my favorites is the dropping of the ‘g’ at the end of a word. I once posted on Twitter that Southerners would have a hard time finding a ‘g’ in “gigging.”
Southern expressions take the cake. Meet someone on the street and the first thing out of their mouth is, “How’s your Momma?” or another member of your family. ‘Bless your heart’ is a tricky as it can mean both a blessing or a disparaging remark depending on tone of voice inflection, circumstances, relationships, etc. Now if it is said as, ‘Bless his heart. He can’t help it,’ then you know it’s questioning manners, heritage, schooling, or upbringing.
To all y’all who still have trouble remembering or understanding our native language I believe it is now a collage class like English. For the betterment of society, “Ya’ll come back, now!”