“Song, song of the South; sweet potato pie and hush my mouth,” as performed by the country group, Alabama

“Southern Speak”

This is a type of soft speaking which was primarily developed in the South during the northern occupation of the beloved Southland by the hated Yankee invaders and conquerors. Many of the occupying soldiers were fresh from Yankee battlefields where they had lost a lot of comrades to Confederate shot and steel. They weren’t in much of a mood for any back talk from the uneducated, rebel people they had just conquered and were as apt to kill a Southerner for the slightest perceived insult.

The defeated South developed a style of double-speak known now as Southern speak so that they could hurl disguised epithets at the occupiers while smiling innocently and the ignorant Yankees would believe that they had been praised or applauded. Terms like “Bless your heart,” means just about anything the speaker intends from ‘you’re such a ninny’ to ‘you ain’t got the sense that God gave a goose’ but is seldom meant as a blessing.

“Now, ain’t you the one,” can mean ‘you’re an idiot,’ while ‘you just beat about everything’ means ‘how can someone as stupid as you actually exist?’ I think you get the gist. If you don’t, then you ought to be ‘real proud of yourself.’

bless your heart

“Genteel Southern speech”

The South has always been outnumbered, out-financed and out-gunned by the Yankee north. When Grant came east in 1864 he purposely built up his army into a behemoth in order to bludgeon the Southern army into submission. When Sherman marched through Georgia, his avowed purpose was to kill and burn everything in a sixty-mile swath from Atlanta to the sea in order to make war so hellish that the Southerners would submit.

As a result, Southerners have always had to speak nicely and say, “Good doggie,” until they could pick up a big rock. Genteel mothers taught their children this from birth. “Never say ’Shut up!’ like the northerners,” they would advise, “say shush or hush your mouth, instead.”

They clearly followed the advice so succinctly stated a hundred years later by the northern mobster, Al Capone when he said, “You can always get more money with a gun and a smile than you can with just a smile.” Bless his heart! At least he is one Yankee who knew how to do something right.

“Why ‘the War’ was actually fought”

confederate map

This simple ides has continued to evoke constant argument throughout the years. The point of view of the debater is usually discerned by the term used to name the conflict. ‘War of northern aggression’ is the preferred view of the majority of Southerners, while ‘war of Southern rebellion’ is used by most militarily-inclined Southerners and the ‘civil war’ is used by most from the aggressor nation, viz., the north.

Let me be precise, though. It was not a civil war. No war can, by definition, be civil. This war, though, was particularly uncivil. It was a duel to the death of two distinctive and competing cultures. Only one could win. While the South wanted to co-exist, the north demanded complete capitulation and barring that, finally, annihilation of its adversary.

It was a foregone conclusion that the north would win but Southern honor was at stake. When honor is at stake, all else is moot. If you understand that, then you are a Southerner. If you are not a Southerner, then you will never comprehend this idea. Bless your heart!

“Save your Confederate money”

confederate money

In order to finance ‘the Recent Unpleasantness’ Southerners sold, financed or pawned everything they owned or could steal of value. Alas, when the northerners invaded the defenseless South and waged a war of aggression against the people, the land, the animals and every green thing, the glorious South was finally beaten into submission and finally called a cessation to hostilities. Please note that various armies of the South surrendered to their northern counter-parts but the Confederate government never surrendered or capitulated to any central northern official.

When ‘the war’ ended, the Southern economy had ground to a halt and its printed money was worth zero. There were many then (and even a few still) who advocate that you hold onto your Southern money, for the South will truly rise again.

“Prepositions”

The South is perhaps the only place in the English-speaking world where a preposition is permitted to end a sentence with. It is required, actually. A little known and even less understood amendment to the constitution of the United States of the South was passed early on, requiring that all sentences should end-dangle prepositions. That law has never been stricken. A good illustration of its use: “where ‘bouts are you at?” followed by “what are you over there for?” Therefore, I implore you, to honor that noble nation by using prepositions to end all your sentences with.

8 thoughts on “Birth of Southern Speak by Gary Wright

  1. PorchScene Staff

    Bobby C left this great comment for Gary Wright – “I have known Gary for near 40 years and if you want wit mixed with downhome common sense he can prove it’s not an oxymoron. Read all he publishes and print some of it.” – will do Bobby – thanks for the input!

    1. Bobby C. you are too generous in your comments. Good to hear from you.

  2. Haha! Interesting to know why we southerners speak the way we do.

    1. It’s good to know your roots. Great to hear from you.

  3. Awesome-so true.

    1. Thank you, Cissie.

  4. Gary, if you ever make it over to Opelika drop by and we can share where we’re at.

    1. I will do that. Please e-mail me your telephone number and I’ll call and we can set up a time.

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