Monday, May 31, 2004

Useful words

How did I ever survive without southern dialect? There are some ideas my native Ohioan was simply not meant to express. For example:

Y'all and All y'all
There is no second-person plural in formal modern English. In Ohio it would informally be expressed as "you guys," which sounds horrible when you say it to a group of women. In Pittsburgh it would be "yinz" (a contraction of "you 'uns"), which is nice meaning-wise but sounds horrible and nasal-y. Southerners had the sense to say "y'all." And when people started saying "y'all" to just one person (perhaps to address someone more formally, like using vous instead of tu?), they added "all y'all" to the lexicon for good measure, to make sure they'd have a plural when they needed it. I love that.

Might could
"Might be able to" is correct, of course, but it's a lot more work. "Might could" is elegant and there's no doubt about what it means.

Going around your ass to get to your elbow
There is no better or funnier expression in the entire world for "doing something in the most backward and inconvenient manner possible." It brings a smile to my face every time.

Adam's house cat
When northerners want to say they can't vouch for someone or they have never seen a person before, they'll say "I wouldn't know him from Adam." (Amusing thought: Is this some kind of linguistic counterpoint to "I wouldn't go out with that guy if he were the last man on earth"?) Southerners are more emphatic: "I wouldn't know him from Adam's house cat."

And my personal favorite, Fixin' to
As in, "I'm fixin' to go to the store. Do you need anything?" It means "about to," more or less, but it also has a connotation of "I'm getting ready to." As in, I'm looking for my keys, I'm grabbing the grocery list off the fridge, I'm picking up my purse...