Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Southern Speak: A field guide

I reside in the South, not the DEEP south, but certainly deep enough.I have for the majority of my 33 years however I have lived above the Mason Dixon line a time or two (literally two) and as such my accent tends to lean more toward whoever I'm speaking with at the time. Predominately though my accent is slightly southern. Probably more southern than I care to admit. I use "y'all" on a regular basis and I even use some of the phrases that I will outline for you in this guide...however, usually in jest.

Here in the south, things are done at their own pace and in their own way. It's hard to understand for someone who doesn't live here. Hell, it's hard for me to understand sometimes. What got me thinking about this topic is my friend Ashley who lives in Alaska, she has lived in the south herself, so she generally gets it, but she randomly asked on Twitter "I don't understand the south. Why do you need a homemade wreath for every month??" I responded to her the best way I knew: "Oh bless your heart...because that's just how it's done Sugar. We don't question these things." Then I had the idea to create a guide for my Yankee friends who aren't as familiar with Southern Speak so they would know the appropriate usage of some phrases familiar to those of us below the Mason Dixon as they may come in handy. Let's get started.

"Mih-Cud-Do" - pronounced exactly like it's spelled, a lazy conjunction (like most southern words) of Might Could Do. You see, in the south, when we want to tell someone how to do something, we aren't always very direct. So, we tell them, what they Might Could Do, if they were so inclined. Example: "What you Mih-Cud-Do is cook that bacon in lard, ya reckon?"

"Ya Reckon?" - a question, meaning: do you concur? Example: See above

"God Willing and The Creek Don't Rise." - One of my favorites, even as a non-God fearing person. This is a phrase that is meant to imply hope that a certain outcome will end in a positive result through God's will and good fortune in a difficult situation. Example: "God willing and the creek don't rise that woman admitting she wasn't God fearing won't get her stoned to death."

"Since God Was a Boy" - This one, I use frequently. It's used to explain a large passing of time. Example: "I haven't seen a Drag Show since God was a boy!" Sidenote: I got this one from Steel Magnolias, which is my favorite movie of all time.

"Over Yonder" - This one I grew up with a lot in the mountains of NC. It was tough for me as I am terribly challenged directionally. It's a direction in which you must travel or where something is located, it's a direction much like "over there" but in the country that could be 15 miles away. Example: "I know I left my sunglasses over yonder but I can't find 'em nowhere."

"Bless Your/Her/His Heart" - I saved this one for last, it's probably the most commonly used Southern Speak and the most widely known. The beautiful thing about it, is how versatile it is. It can be used to imply sympathy, gratefulness or a kind form of disapproval and even exasperation. It's genius. As such, I have multiple examples for it's usage:

"Bless his pea pickin' little heart, he never saw that coming. The bull threw him in no time."

"Bless her heart, she dresses like such a tramp though I know her Mama raised her better. It's no wonder she got pregnant."

"Bless your heart, you read this whole blog post. Thank you."

Any other southerners out there have any tried and true Southern Speaks they use on the regular? What about you Yankees? I'm friends with a few Bostonians that have more than a few.


  1. Ones I had never heard until I moved here:

    "Let me CARRY you home." Well, it is mighty nice of you, but I can just sit in your car and you drive, okay.

    "Where do you STAY?" Well, I stay where I am sitting right now, I have stayed at several hotels at different locations..... oh, WAIT, you mean, where do I LIVE?" Now it makes sense.

    1. Oh, Good Ones!! "Fixing to..." is another one..."It's Fixing To rain"

  2. I possess zero Southern flair. I'm from that nearby area on your picture-map marked with a "C". So basically, I just lost cool points.

    1. I lived in Philadelphia (the C on the map) from 1996-1998. Loved it so much I'm still an Eagles fan, unfortunately.

      You did not lose cool points with me, not possible. However, I think you should try on "Bless your heart" for size...I think it would fit ya.