Monday, March 17, 2008

Speak Easy

In my last post I used the phrase “more relatives than you can shake a stick at”. Swampy asked where that phrase came from, and I honestly don’t know. It’s one of those sayings I’ve heard all my life. There are a lot of those in my vocabulary. We say some crazy things in this part of the country, things I just can’t explain. I know what they mean. I just can’t tell you WHY they mean what they mean.

People in this neck of the woods have a unique way of mangling and manipulating the English language. Laced with a heavy southern twang, it’s a confusing mixture of dropped syllables, bad grammar and mispronunciations. If you’re not from these parts, you probably don’t know what we’re saying half the time. Plop us down in the middle of New York City or Boston, and you’d almost need an interpreter to understand us. Often when I’m traveling people hear me speak and start quizzing me about where I live. I hear them whisper behind my back about “how quaint” I sound or how “cute” my accent is. It doesn’t feel quaint. It just feels normal to me. I forget, especially when I’m blogging, that it’s different….very different to a large part of this country’s population, not to mention the rest of the world. Because I write the way I speak and most of you are not from my little corner of the U.S. of A., I feel obligated to warn you that some odd sayings are likely to pop up on these pages from time to time, like they did yesterday. I also feel obligated to interpret some of them for you. If you want to impress (or confuse) a few of your friends, tell them you’ve been studying a second language and throw these out at your next dinner party.

Flat as a flitter-I don’t know what a flitter is, but it’s really flat. We generally use this phrase when referring to road kill….three day old road kill…on a well traveled road.

Broad as the side of a barn-This phrase is used to describe a really large person…as in Joe is as broad as the side of a barn. It’s often used in conjunction with “as big as a house”.

Won’t hit a lick at a snake-Used to describe extreme laziness. Watch me combine two sayings…If Joe won’t hit a lick at a snake he’s as lazy as they come.

Higher than a kite-We generally use this when discussing someone who has had one too many pain killers. Not to be confused with….

Drunker than Cootie Brown-Not Cootie Smith, Cootie Jones or Cootie Miller. It’s always Cootie Brown. I don’t know who Cootie was, but apparently, he was REALLY intoxicated. If you are drunker than Cootie Brown, you need to call a cab.

Having a large time-This is how you become drunker than Cootie Brown.

Wild as a deer-This is how we describe you if you spend too much time being drunker than Cootie Brown or higher than a kite. It involves a lot of other bad behaviors too, including being…

As loose as a goose-This means what you think it means, although I don’t know any geese that are promiscuous. You can be loose as a goose and have a large time, but that’s likely to lead to a lot of other problems, especially if you are drunker than Cootie Brown or higher than a kite.

Doesn’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of-This means someone is really poor. I suspect this one hearkens back to the days of chamber pots before indoor plumbing. Believe it or not, this phrase is tossed around in everyday conversation as if it doesn’t involve the disposal of bodily fluids. My mother uses this one a lot.

Tight as a tick-Always used after overindulging at the dinner table. Ever see a blood engorged tick on a dog? Nuff said.

That’s enough for one lesson, but I have dozens more. If at any time I lapse into Kentucky speak, just let me know and I’ll try to interpret for you. Just don’t be surprised at anything that comes out of my mouth. I am a product of my upbringing. Hey, while we’re at it, can anyone explain why folks in the northern states call soda “pop”? I thought it was all supposed to be called “Coke” no matter what brand it is. As in, “Would you like a Coke? Yes? What kind, Coke, Pepsi or RC?”


janjanmom said...

"Doesn’t have a pot to PEE in or a window to throw it out of."

I do believe you cleaned that one word up a bit or your folks was just livin' a little bit higher up on the hog than we was.

Won't hit a lick-shortened means your car won't start. (or mower if you are drunker than Cootie Brown)

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Folks in the North and Midwest call the fizzy stuff "pop" as a shortened version of soda pop. Folks on the Coasts call is "soda" as a shortened version of the same.

I think it's only parts of Appalachia and the deep south that call is Coke. But I might be wrong about that. It's just want my experience has shown.

Mama Mia said...

Well cut my legs off and call me shorty...hula you got more quaint sayin's than Carters got oats, or little liver pills.

oreneta said...

For geographic range...I'm from Toronto...shake a stick at I know and use, along with broad as a barn and high as a kite; loose as a goose interestingly, for me, means a case of a runs rather than promescuity...the pee in a pot, I've heard, but not for a long time and I have probably never used...tight as a tick...though that means drunker than cootie brown, which I have never heard.

In Toronto, pop is ANY fizzy drink be it coke pepsi some orange job or whatever...I too assume that it is short for soda pop. We never call that fizzy stuff soda, though I know the name...probably from movies...

This is so fascinating!

Amy said...

Like Loretta Lynn, when your kids are in trouble do you yell,
"If you kids don't settle down I'm gonna have ta whup the tar out of every one of ya"?:)

hulagirlatheart said...

Actually, my mom always says "jerk a knot in your tail".

Mama Mia said...

your'e as independant as a hog on ice....oh this is fun! I really need to get a life

Sandra - Amy's Mom said...

Girl, I LOVE your southern expressions! I always say I'm "fixing" to do something and get made fun of or I refer to the oil lamp as the "coal oil lamp." People in W. Tennessee call a sack a sack but in E. Tennessee, it's a "poke." And a soft drink is a coke, even if it's not a coke, it can be any flavor! That was fun!
Sandra - Amy's Mom :)

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