No loss for words

When a Southerner goes home, she's sure to hear at least half of these words in the first five minutes. Image found on 90daysofart.

When a Southerner goes home, she’s sure to hear at least half of these words in the first five minutes.
Image found on 90daysofart.

Living in the South, we’re blessed with a diversity of language, some of it actually permissible in mixed company. For those who don’t understand, well, bless their cotton-pickin’ hearts.

My grandpa used to call food “groceries” whether it was store-bought or from the garden. He’d come in the house when we’d visit (which was a lot; Nanny and Grandpa were only about a mile away) and say, “Are you eatin’ my groceries?” I sometimes find myself doing the same … but Luke doesn’t giggle like my brothers and I did. I’m sure if cats could roll their eyes, he would.

That's quite enough of that. Show yourself out.

In my mind, my eyes are rolling, lady.

Eyes rolling or not, favorite words and phrases are still rolling in.

Sarah Ricard, a native Texan (but we’ll forgive her for that) and fellow blogger I mentioned last week, had a few more favorites, including bamboozle, and her son’s favorite, plumbum (the Latin word for lead).

After posting my blog entry to her Facebook page, she received two more suggestions: scofflaw and schlep. “I say schlep all the time. I think I got it from watching The Nanny back in the day; it’s not part of a Texan’s usual vocabulary,” she told me.

And now Fran Drescher’s cackle is in my head.

Sarah also offered other words and phrases that are quintessentially Southern, and ones I have the tendency to use quite a bit. “My dad says, ‘I’m plum tuckered out’ and ‘gullywasher’ (heavy rain). My grandmother used to say ‘cattywampus,’ and I’ve been known to let out an occasional ‘shucky darn and slop the hogs.’

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Keep it down. I’m tuckered out!

OK, so I don’t say “shucky darn,” but I’m plum tuckered out a lot these days.

Dick Price, who cracks me up on a regular basis in comments on the blog, offered two unique entries: “Bunggorn—to be inoperative, broken; ‘The tee-vee is bunggorn, it’s gone all squiggly.’”

But Sayruh, don't be usin' it like that Sherlock fella ... Image found on The Daily Mail.

But Sayruh, don’t be usin’ it like that there Sherlock fella …
Image found on The Daily Mail.

The other word: “Nackyum—usually white cloth or paper square useful for mopping up sticky sorghum or polishing skeeters off eyeglasses after motorcycle excursion; a napkin; ‘Sayruh Lynn, you might use yore nackyum lest folks thank yore a savage.’”

Yes, it’s wildly grammatically incorrect, but it’s also pretty darned funny.

From Sharon Williams came a couple of sayings that were very evocative: “One came from a Yankee living in Little Rock: ‘I am as busy as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!’ I still can’t stop laughing at that one … I suppose because it is so visual.”

I heard that guy won! Image found on The Universes of Jason Andrew.

I heard that guy won!
Image found on The Universes of Jason Andrew.

I’m right there with you, Sharon.

“The other comes from Long Island, Bahamas, where we visit often and have many friends. It is way down south …  🙂 When you are visiting with someone, they will say: ‘I gotta go so I can come.’ After several years of this, we realized what they meant was that they had to go so that they could return again in the near future. Funny! They have teased me about my use of the word tump, so I suppose we are even!”

Lynda Kerr commented on the interactive map from Slate I talked about last week, saying, “I am quite amused by Virginia’s word: ‘might could.’ I am a native Arkie, but was working on a software project in Virginia a few years ago. The customer asked for a solution for a particularly persnickety problem, and I answered, ‘Wellllllllll (drawing it out in true Southern fashion), I might could …’ That was as far as I got. They died laughing. When I asked what they found so funny, it was ‘might could,’ which they (both natives of Virginia) had never heard!” 665503adca961cb40917cbf474972f97

Speaking of, if anyone from Rhode Island is reading, please explain how a milkshake became a cabinet.

Andi Ellington reminisced about family: “My granny, who spent her most of her life in little towns that are now under Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo, then in Crane, outside Springfield, used to say she got ‘a good do’ on her pies, or cakes, etc. I find myself using it now and then when I am particularly proud of some dish I made! One of my uncles, also a Missourian, would say ‘h’it don’t make no nevermind!’ if one of us kids fell down or got in trouble, or really for almost anything … and it would always bring a smile and make the hurt hurt a little less!”

Sorry, kohlrabi, I don't eat anything with a cartoon face. Image found on SimplyRecipes.

Sorry, kohlrabi, I don’t eat anything with a cartoon face.
Image found on SimplyRecipes.

In another email, Andi wrote: “During my last visit with my mom, brother and sister, my-sister-the-vegan-in-the-family made kohlrabi with dinner. That reminded my mom that, back in the day, when someone was ill, people would often they had the “cold robbies”—figure that one out! Our nearest guess what they had seen kohlrabi written in a book but, like many words they read back then, it was that they had never heard spoken, so figured it must be some sort of illness, like ague.”

A mystery email contributor (if only I knew your name) commented on “a good scald,” mentioned in last week’s column: “I think you will find that the expression ‘good scald’ was used when a pig (or hog) had been dipped in hot water and then, while being scraped, the hair would come out by the roots. Makes better ‘cracklings’ or pork rinds: no hair follicles in the mouth. My father, who was born in 1901, used to dip his finger in the water three times without burning himself and he knew then that the temperature was just right. Also, an expression he brought with him when he moved from Tennessee in 1928 to Arkansas, and which emphasizes stinginess, was that a person would ‘skin a gnat for its tallow.’”

I’ve got some gnats hovering around my bananas if anyone wants to skin ’em.

Dear gnats. See these pretty bananas? They're mine. Get your own. Image found on FoodMatters.

Dear gnats,
See these pretty bananas?
They’re mine. Get your own.
Image found on FoodMatters.

A couple more contributions that came in are distinctly non-Southern … unless it’s Southern Great Britain. Perspective editor Karen Martin offered a favorite from the English version of House of Cards, “uttered often by Francis Urquhart, prime minister of Great Britain … whenever a pesky member of the press asks him one of those ‘Isn’t it true that …’ questions: ‘You might very well think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.’”

Can you imagine an American politician saying that? The proper grammar alone might horrify most of them.

Finally, Peggy Whitt last year took a trip with one of her daughters that I would love to take, what she called their version of a Jane Austen pilgrimage through the U.K.

What would Jane say? Image found on Losing My {Reli}ginity.

What would Jane say?
Image found on losing my {reli}ginity.

In that spirit, she channeled a very Austen-esque critique of the GOP presidential field: “I’m unequivocally vexed with the supercilious discourse and lack of propriety demonstrated by the Republican presidential prospects—I find no genius or wit among them at all!”

I think that’s pretty much true of politicians in general. Aaaand now I’m depressed again.

This has nothing to do with words, but it does have to do with politicians. Then again, maybe it is, since the meanings of words seem to be ignored or changed completely.

Those who know me know I’m not a fan of Kim Davis and the trumped-up religious-freedom fight in Kentucky, or the claims of persecution that make a mockery of people who are being tortured or killed for their beliefs. Tuesday, I saw a meme that pretty much summed up my feelings on the subject.

If Freddie could do it, Kim should be able to as well!

If Freddie could do it, Kim should be able to as well!

She could just do the job she was elected to do, for which she receives far more than the average person in Rowan County earns. Or she could resign, as other clerks, including one here in Arkansas, did.

Oh, but then that would take away from her fledgling martyrdom … never mind. What was I thinking?


10 thoughts on “No loss for words

  1. I was pleasantly surprised to be quoted in your column again. I got stopped at church today by someone who usually only talks to me when the Texas Longhorns lose, so I steeled myself for some ribbing. Instead of the “So how did the Horns do yesterday?” I got, “Saw your name in the paper.” I didn’t know what to think. No Texas jokes?

    As usual, your memes and additional commentary add an element of humor that people miss when they don’t read your blog.

    Your bonus section for us blog readers is spot on. Kim Davis is getting accommodations, but nothing will make her happy until the Supreme Court overturns its own ruling. I’m also tired of the commentary along the lines of “the Supreme Court is not supposed to make the laws.”

    p.s. I’d better post something in my blog soon since you’ve mentioned twice now that I’m a blogger. Yikes!! No pressure!! School is tough this semester though. I’m taking three classes, working two part-time GA jobs to pay for tuition, and worried about my mom in Texas (who is supposed to be the healthy parent) and some heart problems that have recently surfaced.


    • See, this is what happens when you come up with good stuff for me to use. 😉

      Hopefully Kimmy will be heading back to jail since she’s apparently been altering the marriage license applications to take off her name and the county. At some point, though, surely these people supporting her so rabidly will see the light. Yeah, I know, not gonna happen. And yep, that “not supposed to make laws” is especially annoying from people who thought Citizens United was a good decision. Judicial review should only be used in their favor, of course.

      I’ll keep positive thoughts for your mom and for you!


      • Thanks! Turns out my dad has an echocardiogram today and pulmonary function tests tomorrow. Yikes!!

        Kim Davis needs to be back in jail, but then that just adds more fuel to her quest to be a martyr. Between her and the 2016 presidential race, I should buy stock in whatever company owns Tums.

        Have a great week!!


      • Fingers crossed on those tests!

        I’m hoping Li’l Kim’s martyrhood will be very shortlived … I so have the urge to send a lot of these “persecuted” Christians somewhere that Christians are actually being persecuted. But then they’d probably say they were being persecuted because of it … crap …

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So far so good. My mom’s tests showed normal heart function and no plaque. My dad had his pulmonary function test today and an echocardiogram yesterday, and he sees the doctor Thursday. I’m worried about him.

    My Sunday School teacher mentioned that Christians in the United States don’t know what true persecution is because we aren’t getting beheaded like some in the Middle East. I wanted to add, “So that means there’s no ‘War on Christmas,’ right?” but I didn’t want to cause a ruckus. (By the way, ruckus is another good word.)


    • Ruckus is an EXcellent word, and fun to cause. 😉

      Yea for your mom, and fingers crossed for your dad. I’m keeping positive thoughts!

      I think I’d like your Sunday School teacher. It’s good to have perspective. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you’d like my Sunday School teacher too. She doesn’t walk on eggshells. My husband and I go to separate classes, and I love the ladies’ class. I’m one of the youngest at almost 50, and these ladies are feisty. Most are widowed, some are single, and others are divorced. Some, like me, prefer this class over the couples classes.

        I like to cause some ruckus too. My sister and I used to cause some ruckus back in the day. We used to write notes that said “E.T. phone home” in the school library drop box. We were such delinquents.

        p.s. My mom says “Thanks.” She’s glad Luke is doing better.


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