Article Date: 1/1/2007

lessons learned
Y'all Going to SECO?

If you answered yes, you'll want to learn how to speak Southern.

JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

"How do you get to Chattanooga?" asked the Yankee tourist lost in Tennessee. "Well, mostly my son-in-law carries me," the old man replied.

Born and raised in Aurora, Ill., I was also a Yankee before moving to Rome, Ga. Thus, this use of the word "carry" to indicate driving or taking someone somewhere, rather than physically carrying him, was difficult to get used to.

Although I have come to thoroughly enjoy the colorful, melodic and friendly Southern accent and idiom, in addition to "carry," many other Southern terms were perplexing to me at first.

What they mean

The SECO meeting in Atlanta is coming up next month. If you are from a different area of the country, or the world, perhaps my experience in learning this new language can help you. Following are some of the lessons that I learned. First, words that need translation:

Summers — "I know that boy is around here summers."

Hep — "Can I hep you carry that?"

Tarred — "Ah'm too tarred to go out tonight."

Bidness — "It's none of your

bidness."

Ratcheer — "I left my car keys ratcheer on the table, and now they're gone."

Idinit — "Mighty hot today, idinit?"

Axed — "I axed him a question."

Widja didja — "You didn't bring your idiot cousin along widja, didja?"

Sound the same?

Different words being unintentionally pronounced the same also threw me for a while. On a candid camera show I saw, the announcer asked a gentleman from South Carolina, "How do you pronounce the word 'f-a-r'?"

"Fahr," he replied.

"How do you pronounce the word 'f-i-r-e?" he then asked.

"Fahr," was again the response.

"Then those two words are pronounced just the same?" asked the announcer.

"No, no!!!" the gentleman responded fervently. '"F-a-r' is pronounced 'fahr,' and 'f-i-r-e' is pronounced 'fahr!'"

Another illustration of this is the story of the two Yankee women driving south who stopped for gas atop a mountain in Tennessee on a clear crisp day. "Just smell that air," one of them said, as she took a deep breath.

"That 'ere what?" asked the elderly gas station attendant.

Labor saving

An advantage of "talkin' Southern" is that it often reduces the number of syllables in a word:

Cain't — can not

Jev-ver — did you ever

Nome — No ma'am

Zackly — exactly

Prolly — probably

The two prize-winners are one syllable words that replace four

syllables:

Spear — superior

Nairn — nary a one.

Perplexing

One thing still baffles me. When Southerners efficiently reduce the number of syllables in so many words, why do some instead add syllables?

Day-um — "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a day-um."

Fay-an — "It was so hot, I had to turn on the electric fay-an."

Gri-yuts — "I have gri-yuts for breakfast every morning."

It's difficult to communicate when you don't understand the language. I hope this dissertation "heps" you when in the South.

JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET



Optometric Management, Issue: January 2007