Wednesday, February 15, 2012

English as a Second Language?

                I was reminded again just the other day how my family has a folksy vernacular; an odd combination of country, redneck and Southern that is peppered with words that I believe we may have invented.  I was sitting at the dining table talking to my friend Adam and The Dad was looking at my magazine.  It was the latest edition of Vanity Fair and it was, unfortunately, turned to the page which features photos of some of the contributors.  As a rule, writers are not an overly attractive subset of humanity.  There are exceptions, of course.  John Grisham and I are among those who are considered attractive.  Well, more attractive than, say, J.R.R. Tolkien (I imagine) or Truman Capote (I am certain).
                When he saw the photo of one particularly unfortunate-looking individual he said, “Woo, she’s so ugly, she’d make a haint take a thorn thicket!”  Now, I’m not sure if he has regressed since my Mother’s passing or if he always talked this way and I chose to ignore it.
                Adam, who is a graduate of Northwestern (in Chicago) seemed confused and very quietly asked if The Dad were having a stroke.  I laughed and explained the definitions of both haint (ghost) and thorn thicket (something akin to a flowerless rose garden, all thorns).  While I am not certain of the accuracy of his statement (why would it concern a ghost to run into the brambles seeing as how they really aren’t wearing sheets?) I found it interesting I knew exactly what he was talking about.
                Once The Dad retired to his room to sleep, Adam asked me why he used such odd phrases but I didn’t.  Well, I could fill up a book about the inherent differences between my father and me but I’ll leave this task to the actual book I’m hoping to create from these blogs.  Prepare your wallets people; I have expectations of support (buy my first book A Gone Pecan at or right now!) from my readers/friends/family/well-wishers/those easily manipulated by guilt, etc.  This question caused me to review words and phrases my family uses fairly regularly, some of which may be familiar.

                Jouvous – Nervous.
                Tooky – Persnickety.
                Rernt – Ruined.  Could be in reference to a person, place or thing.
                I swonny – An exclamation like “My goodness!” or "I swear!".
                Wompy-jawed – Askew.  See also catty-wampus.
                Chicken Doody – Any spot on your dress, car, shoe, sidewalk, etc.  Typically does not refer to actual poultry excrement.
                “Fine as frog hair” – Said in response to “How are you?”  The joke being frog hair is so fine you can’t even see it.  It’s not as funny as The Dad thinks it is.
                “Ain’t fit to shoot” – Not even good enough to bother with wasting good bullets.  See also triflin’, low-down, no-good. 
                “In a toot” – In a bad mood.
                “Going to town” – leaving your home, regardless of whether you reside within the city limits or not.  Stemming from a youth spent in the boonies.
                Boonies – Living so far outside of the city limits, even wild animals question your presence.
                Coke – any flavor of carbonated beverage.  Yankees refer to it as soda or pop.  We mock those Yankees, sometimes to their faces.
                Beautimous – Very attractive.  See also Linda Evangelista, Jaclyn Smith or my niece Payton.
                Hooty-tooty – Extra fancy.  See also hoity-toity or foo-foo.
                Uppity – Extra fancy but in a condescending manner.
                Nassy – Nasty.  This one seems to stem from sheer laziness.

                Feel free to use these words and phrases in casual conversation to confuse or intimidate frenemies, future in-laws or people eavesdropping at Starbucks.  I would caution against using in the workplace as you may demoted.  I’m not ashamed of my upbringing, but I know enough not to say “I reckon” beyond the comfort of a Tractor Supply store or a conversation with someone named Herschel or Oda Lee.  How else do you think I got to be so hooty-tooty?
As much as I put on, I am glad I grew up in the South and I am, in the deepest recesses of my heart, a good ol’ boy.  I just prefer to show my Southern pride through the wearing of seersucker. 
And that's all I'm saying for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment