Monday, September 17, 2012

Why I love Tennessee Part II - Southern Speak

In the last post I finished with our first trip to the zoo where we experienced our 1st torrential downpour and lightning storm and we were the only crazy people wandering around checking out elephants. 

At that time Ryan was still off work. In the 3rd week living here, he started his new position. Lucky for him, he actually was going to work with some of the same people he worked with in Canada. I however still didn't know a soul. I love my husband dearly, but I needed a girl friend now!

The excitement of the big move kinda started to wear off and I was stuck by myself trying to figure out how to pass the time with my 14 month old. We were bored out of our minds. We took road trips every day.  Sometimes we'd shake things up and go to Wal-Mart, then Target, then Wal-Mart again. Then Target. On Sunday's we went to church and that's when we began to meet some people. There was a slight problem though, I could hardly understand anybody. I could tell people were super friendly from their wide smiles and warm hand shakes, but I couldn't understand them! I always reciprocated the greeting and nodded when they talked to me, but then I'd turn to my husband and ask him to translate. Fortunately my husband had been in contact with his fellow southern coworkers long before we actually moved to Tennessee, so he understood people much better than I.
 At the end of each service, someone would finish with a prayer. I couldn't help but say a prayer myself, "Dear God, I hope you know what he just said because I sure don't. Amen."

One time our family went for dinner at a burger joint in Kentucky. We were happily eating our burgers when this lady came in the front door and announced, "I'm Sally Dickens!!!" Well, that just cracked me up and I giggled into Ryan's ear, "Heh heh heh!!!!! That is SUCH a southern name!!!  Ryan looked at me very confused then realized my mistake and said, "That's not Sally Dickens. She's selling tickets."
I felt a little bit embarrassed. I may have turned a little red.

 If you think that is funny, here's a challenge: If you are a Canadian and you happen to be here in the south at the Sonic Drive-in, please order a lemon slush and see what happens :)

Well,I was getting desperate for a friend so I joined a stay at home mom's group. Don't ask me how many times I tried to work up the nerve to ask random moms at the park if they would be my friend. I was much too shy, plus I didn't want them to think I'm crazy and desperate. If I was in a group though, hopefully there are crazy desperate people like me! Thank the Lord, I found plenty of crazy desperate ladies just like me! One in particular has become one of my bestest friends :-D

It had been several weeks since I joined the mom's group and I really enjoyed making new friends. But I still felt lonely. I was driving home from somewhere feeling sorry for myself so I prayed, "Dear God, I need someone to go to the mall with."  I got home an noticed a missed message on my phone. It was from a gal named Cindy and she wanted to know if I wanted to go to the mall with her. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry from happiness and an answer to prayer! I kicked myself for missing the call but called her back anyways. Turns out she never made it to the mall that day so we scheduled our first hang out with our two little girls Selina and Claire...which more appropriately should be Selina-Claire, all one name.

And we became friends.

Funny thing though, Miss Cindy is from the DEEP SOUTH and her accent is fantastic. She calls it hick, I call it awesome. I've learned all sorts of southern speak from her. My favorite is none other than "Y'all". I realize Y'all is not a new thing, I just really like it. I've tried really hard not to say 'Y'all' just because I want to hold onto my "Eh's" but I can't hold it in any longer! Y'all just flows. It kinda makes sense. I had to laugh when I saw this post on pinterest that helped clear up how to use y'all:

Alrighty then!

Here are a few other fave Southern Speaks:

"Bless her heart..."  This can go 2 ways: 1) Bless her/his heart= she's/he's as dumb as a pile of bricks. Sorry it's true!  2) Bless her heart = that poor thing :(

"Ma'am" I personally love being called Ma'am. It sounds nice and respectful, unless you're in trouble. I catch myself saying to my kids all the time, "NO MA'AM!!!!!"

"Fixin'"  -"It's fixin' to rain." "I'll bring the fixin's for the chili"

"Mess" - "My kid is such a mess"  (not actually a mess as in dirty, but a mess as in silly, uncontrollable, giggly, or goofy). I was really confused for the longest time when people said their kids are a mess. I thought if those kids are a mess, then mine are beyond gross. Especially Keira. Love my Keira.

"Wreck" - "There's a wreck on I-65" - Nope, not a nervous wreck of a person. Wreck = car accident.

"Coke" - nothing here all that significant, but just so you know coke = Dr. Pepper, Root beer, Sprite, and any other form of soda  (quick note, you say soda here, not "pop". People look at you like you're crazy if you say pop. And, they look at you crazy if you say washroom. It's either bathroom or restroom, but not washroom.)

"Ain't" - "are not" and "am not"  ex: "You ain't from around here." (see below)   "I ain't fixin' to get yer coke (mountain dew), becuz my that there car is in a wreck. Some woman, a mess I tell ya, on the innerstate (bless her heart) wuzzunt payin' attention to where she was going. DADGUM!"

I've lived here for over 4 years now. For the first 3 years, all I heard were southern accents and nothing unusual about my own accent. Even though I can't hear my own accent, I was called out on it over and over and over by tons of people I didn't know (cashiers, bankers, guy taking groceries to my car). They all said, "You ain't from around here are you."
"No, eh!" I said back.
Then recently I was watching an episode of House Hunters International and it had a Canadian couple on it and they were looking for a place somewhere tropical. That's when I first heard it . . . the Canadian accent. I sat up real tall on my couch and listened in to their conversation. I looked at Ryan and said, "OH. MY. GOODNESS. Is that how we sound?"
Ryan who's been very conscious of how we sound for quite some time very nonchalantly said, "Yep."

"Well, I'm shocked!" And I thought to myself, "We really do sound like Bob and Doug McKenzie! Ahhhhhhh!"

Take off, eh.

Nowadays, I don't get asked where I'm from. Nobody comments on my accent. I know I don't sound exactly like a Southerner, or even close to that. But apparently I don't sound much like a Northerner either. I'm somewhere in the middle.
This morning my mom picked up on words that I didn't even know I was saying in a southerly way.
My husband once had a boss who was from England that lived in Canada for many years. He always joked that nobody understood him because he merged the accents from both countries.

Well y'all, same here eh. Same here.

By the way, not every body down here talks like that. Just about everybody I know is not from Tennessee. We're all a bunch of transplants moving around for work and whatnot. Which was good because there were a few people I could actually understand - very helpful indeed when you ain't from around here. Now I can understand everybody!  I feel beyond blessed to be a part of Southern Living. Love the food, love the accent, love the sales at Target, love the people, love the weather. It's all good. Except for the cicadas. Those are not good.

Take care, eh.


Laura said...

Yes! As a Yankee myself, from Illinois, your list cracks me up because it is so true. I would also add "buggy", as in a grocery cart. I had never heard it called that and shortly after we were here, a cashier at Kroger asked if I was finished with my buggy. I had to ask her 3 times what she was talking about. Also, at school, they have their "pitchers made", i.e. have their pictures taken. That one drives me a little crazy. Great post!

Kristin said...

Yes! Buggy, and also at the grocery store they say "sack" instead of bag. Confusing!!!! LOL at the "pitchers"!