magnolia

“. . . tomorrow is another day,” by Scarlett O’Hara, a product of the mind of Margaret Mitchell.

Author’s disclaimer: Any resemblance to any real person, living or dead in this work is purely the fault of that person for resembling my fictional work.

Catawampus, as in “That thing is all catawampus,” means askew, awry, cater-cornered. In other words, all screwed up. Lexicographers don’t really know how it evolved, though. They speculate it’s a colloquial perversion of “cater-corner.” Variations include catawampous, cattywampus and catty wonkus. The South isn’t really big on details or explanations and most of us don’t really care whether or not you believe any of it.

Catty-corner, as in ‘It’s located catty-corner across the street,’ is a method of pointing out a location, meaning that the location is directly opposite one of four corners of an intersection. It comes from old English catre(quatre)-cornered, meaning four cornered. Alternately, it is stated caddy-cornered or kitty-cornered. All forms are acceptable in Southern speak, the more variation, the better for it keeps the Yankees confused.

south map

South versus north is a subject of endless debate and certainly not one for the faint of heart. Please notice that all self-respecting Southerners capitalize the word “South” and all of its derivatives, while the word “north” is generally uncapitalized. Please remember that that is not a purposeful disrespecting of the north. Well, actually, it is, but in a round-about, clever way. You see, north is simply looked upon as merely a direction, nothing more than a bearing on a compass. Whereas the South really exists; a mythical, mystical place where we live in peace and harmony. The land which was originally populated by Scarlett O’Hara and her people.

Cut on the electricity; cut off the electricity is a Southern saying which, at first glance doesn’t make much sense but after full explanation, it still doesn’t make sense. Everyone knows that you can cut off the flow of electricity by turning the switch to ’off’ or by simply pulling the plug. However, technically, you simply cannot ‘cut’ the electricity on. It’s impossible – you ’turn’ on the electricity; you do not ‘cut’ it on. But in the South, you can do pretty much everything your heart desires.

However, Southern-speak purists argue that, if you can ‘cut’ something off then you can ‘cut’ it back on. In this grammatical debate, the colorful has won out over the enlightened. That, after all, is the basis of Southern Speak. Now, if one of my dear readers uses these phrases, well, uh, ‘Bless your heart!’

Where, exactly, is the South?  It has proven very difficult to pinpoint exactly where the South is located at. A good indication of the South is when the writer ends a sentence with a preposition just like I did in the previous sentence. Instead of asking the question, “ Where are y’all?” the enlightened Southern-speaker will normally say, “Where are y’all at?” Again, it is almost obligatory to use a preposition thusly. If you want me to use another example, just ask me to.

Where is the north located, exactly?  It is perhaps, easier to specify where the north is, as opposed to where the South is located. Then, obviously, the South would be located wherever the north ain’t. This is a perfect example of Southern logic. The north is located on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line. The north is, simply put, everywhere that the South is not.

sweet tea

The sweet tea versus un-sweet tea dilemma.  The British brought tea to the colonies and it was promptly dumped into Boston Harbor. Originally, the British and the northern colonists only drank hot tea, which is understandable for ‘up north’ is usually quite frigid. As the tea bags slowly dissolved in the icy waters of Boson Bay that night, an enterprising Southerner, near drowning and in an Indian costume, sampled it and found it to be quite tasty.  He remembered how hot and humid it was ‘down South’ and how cooling it might taste.  Iced tea was born thusly. Nowadays, iced tea comes in two varieties: sweet and un-sweet. Many areas in the South are partial to one variety or the other.

When asked by your hostess if you want your tea “regular,” you are better off to simply say, “Yes Ma’am.” If you have to ask if “regular” tea is sweet or un-sweet, she is likely to point out the obvious (in a tactful, Southern manner,) “Y’all ain’t from around here, are you?”

The War– There have been many wars fought by the United States in which many, many boys and ladies of the South participated honorably and each of them has a specific name. However, when one refers to “The War,” one can only mean the “Great Unpleasantness” during which those yankees went and did something very ugly – they invaded our precious South. Also referred to as “the War of northern aggression,” and “the War of Southern Resistance,” it means a time when Southerners and northerners killed each other simply because of where they came from. Thank God and goodness that those days are gone forever and that we are, once again, truly one nation under God. I just wish the yankees would learn a few more manners and cut their visits a little bit shorter!

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One thought on “More Southern Speak by Gary Wright

  1. Great definitions of the southern language. Hard to beat the south with imagination.

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