Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Southern Lexicon

The other day I commented on a blog post. This is not unusual for me. I comment on a bunch of blog posts. What was unusual was the words that I chose. I used the word "pocketbook" instead of wallet. I did this unconsciously and now it sort of freaks me out.

You see, "pocketbook" is a very Southern thing to say. It got me thinking about other words that have worked their way into my vocabulary that are Southernisims. Such as...

Buggy. I used this the other day at the grocery store. In the North you would call this a shopping cart or cart. A buggy to a Northerner is a small motorized vehicle that you ride around on the sand dunes. To a southerner it is a shopping cart.

Fixinto. Oh sure, spell check has a real problem with this word but it is used freely in the South. It means that you are planning to do something. The first time I used this was after I had lived in Bloomington, Indiana for awhile. The people in Bloomington consider themselves residents of Northern Kentucky not residents of Indiana.

Wouldya-could. This is said as all one word. This is actually two sentences in one. Basically, when you live in the South it is too hot to waste time with more than one sentence or walking fast. Slow is the word of the day, everyday. Wouldya-could is "would you do something and could you do it?" all in one. Southerners are nothing if not efficient. 

Bless your heart. While this seems to be a genuine statement of concern to a northerner but don't be deceived. This is not as it seems. If a southerner, especially a woman, says this to you what she means is "you are an idiot and I will pretend that you are saying something smart." 

Cattycorner.  This means sideways or askew. In the North this means the smae thing but it is pronounced a different way.

Shude’notta. You shouldn't have done something. In the North they would take the time to say "you shouldn't do that". See? Southerners are efficient.

Of course, everyone knows about y'all but it is important to know units of amount; piddlin’, fair-to-middlin’, and heaps plus the distances, right near, yonder and a far piece.

There are many other words and phrases that Sourtherners use that people in the North take at face value such as, "aren't you the sweetest thing" and "now, isn't that somethin"

It's like the people in the South speak a whole other language and the people in the North are left out. Funny...I don't seem to have much of a problem with it. My family and friends in the Pacific Northwest will just have to catch up or get over it.

I'm sure Jan, Gretchen and Becky could provide us with more Southernisms.

Do you know any Southernisms? Let us know in the comments. 



  1. All these years this Northerner has been using "Bless Your Heart" as a compliment. Hopefully I never said it to a Southerner - unless they deserved to be referred to as an idiot. ;)

    Here in Pennsylvania Dutch country there are some quirky words/phrases, too - like 'youins' and 'youse' - some people from here even spell it out in varying forms when they're writing. Even though I've lived her almost 14 years, I still haven't adopted the speech and/or mannerisms, so I still get the "Youins ain't from around here areya?" comments. ;)

  2. In the north you have an English that's tilted towards the Germanic in the south towards the Scot and Irish. And it's no real wonder you took to these isms since you were living with a home tutor from way before you arrived. It's like learning French from a French person and then moving to France.

  3. This is kind of like the pop, soda, and cola debate. I confuse a lot of people by calling the bubbly drink available at most fast food joints soda pop. I grew up in the rocky mountain west in a small town. We really don't have a lot of speech mannerisms that are that distinctive around here.

  4. Coke. Everything in the South is a Coke; if you order one in a restaurant, you'll be asked, "What kind? We have Sprite, Dr. Pepper, root beer and Pepsi." Note that there is no actual Coca Cola in the offerings.

    Y'all and all y'all. Y'all is for few people; all y'all is for large groups or crowds.

  5. My all time favorite - "well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!"

  6. Upon moving to Texas, friends would say "I'm fixin' to fix ..." all the time. Totally hilarious. And they would say see-ment for cement. I'm fixin' to fix the see-ment.

    The ex-h had a family saying too "Go do that rat now .. not mousey-rat .. rat now." Not sure if it is Southern, but won't ever forget it.

  7. Not sure where in USA this one comes from, but some of my American friends will start a question with the phrase "What-all ...." as one word.

    For example, "What-all do you think she means?" or "What-all are you going to wear?"

    (Here we'd just say What does she mean? or What will you wear?)