Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Southern English

This post is submitted for the 54th carnival of genealogy and the topic is:

The Family Language...Does your family use words and phrases that no one else knows or understands? Where did they come from? Did you ever try to explain your "family language" to outsiders? Tell a story about your family-coined words, phrases, or nicknames.

I'll be honest with you. My family's language is and was English (of a Southern variety). I think every other Southerner would understand if I "tote" something or "carry it" for a bit.

I do remember some of the adults using the expression "I'll swan" on occasion. (Sometimes it would be "I'll swannee".) As a child that never made sense to me because a swan was a beautiful bird. Of course, I made the mistake of asking them once what they meant, and I believe they kind of watched what they said around me after that. I did hear it a lot after I was a teen though.

If something wasn't liked, it would often be preceded by the expression "cotton pickin'" in the sentence.

My paternal grandmother knew exactly how everyone else was "kin to" someone else. I just wish that she'd written it down!

A good rain was called a "gully washer."

I'm afraid that my "Southern English" has been corrupted by living in too many places and by my education. I have more Midwestern idioms than Southern ones in my regular speech now.

Well, I'm "fixin' to" close this out, so "ya'll" have have a nice time and "come on back, ya hear?"

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3 Comments:

  • Are you a Lewis Grizzard fan? Remember the nuances of Southern English? Like his definitions of naked and nekkid. . . Naked means you don't have any clothes on. Nekkid means you don't have any clothes on and you're up to something.

    By Blogger Moultrie Creek, at 5:58 PM  

  • I used to read Grizzard. It's a shame he died so young!

    By Blogger Lori Thornton, at 6:17 PM  

  • My grandmother always said, "I'll swan." "High cotton" is another phrase she used for things going right. "We're in high cotton now."

    By Blogger Paula Goff Christy, at 7:19 PM  

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