Saturday, July 26, 2008

Regional Language

My DEAR friend, Cindy, is from Missouri. Now I truly have nothing against Missouri (or Missoura as my father-in-law, who is from Kansas, would say). But she has issues with my language from time to time, that is, the colloquialisms that I will use.

I can't fault her for it. I don't know of too many places where, "I tell you what" is a complete sentence and a paragraph in itself. It's hard to believe, though, that my "accent" actually bleeds over into my writing. Shame on me!

Even though I grew up in Dallas, believe it or not, I didn't have an accent until I went to college. I went to a school in East Texas, in a small country town about 60 miles east of Big D. I had a great education there. I learned that it is perfectly acceptable to look at someone that is walking past you, even in the eye, and smile and nod. I learned that waving at total strangers on the street as I drive by is neighborly. And I learned that if you yell "Baaaaaaa" at a group of goats 90% of them will raise their heads and look around.

I seriously can't fault my college education for ALL of my language quirks. Case in point is the word "what". Now the way I sometimes say it, it is more like "whut." But that was a purposeful change. Why, you ask? I was in a musical many years ago with my senior minister. I played a hick waitress and I sort of patterned her speech after the waitress named "Flo" on an old TV show called, "Alice." Now I never said, "Kiss my grits!" but I did say, "you know whut?" My senior minister really threw me the day - during performance - when he answered, "whut?" and made the whole audience split a gut. With all that practicing, that "whut" will still come out from time to time.

Another thing I can't blame on East Texas is my use of "terribly." I've never really noticed it, but my DEAR friend, Cindy, shared with me that she has noticed it a lot in my writing. That one I have to blame on another dear friend, Paula Kaye, who passed away a couple of years ago. Paula and her hubby were from England and often I would put on my best British to greet her, "Oh Paula and how ahe you, deah?" And she would answer back, "terribly well," or "frightfully well". Then she would explain again for the 10th time how "strange it is that we'll say terribly or frightfully when we're talking about something good. Isn't that silly?" I honestly didn't try to use it or even think about it, but I do say "terribly" quite a lot nowadays.

But one other item that Cindy LOVES to point out IS INDEED from my college career. That is the use of "big ole hairy". To me, this just means morosely large, but when I use it, especially for some type of food, it paints all sorts of ugly pictures in my friend's head. Aren't you glad I don't use THAT one in my writing.

Oh and by the way if something happens "like a big dog," that mean it happens in a grand manner.

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