Friday, January 28, 2005


I used to think that I lived in podunk ville, especially when I was in Wilmer. And I guess I actually did live more in podunk there than the other places because I found out today that podunk comes from an Indian word meaning "cornfield". I am investigating this matter. I always thought that podunk just meant in the country but apparently it means in the cornfield.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hooten nanny (Updated)

When I was young, my dad bought me my first hooten nanny. It was a little bug thing with wheels that you could push around.

I found out later that a hooten nanny is basically a mechanical gadget of sorts. It could be a motorcycle or a car. It could be a motorized machine. The way I understand it a hooten nanny is any device that has mechanical moving parts, sometimes used for mobility.

Who knows? Have you ever heard of a hooten nanny or something similar?

Call Me Scarlett said...
Where I'm from, a Hooten Nanny is a thing, a dance, an occasion, etc. A rowdy affair. Definately not a device.I looked it up on the internet and several references were made to "there will be a hooten-nanny party." Guess it has different meaning in different parts?

Thanks to Ms. Scarlett for this correction. I vaguely remember this being the case. I would add that this type of hooten nanny may also be called a shananigen or a shin dig (but my sources may be using the word wrongly). I am little under the gun at this moment, with my thesis. When I get that done, I'll find some time to do a little research on this to back up what Ms. Scarlett said.

Come to find out we are both right:

1 entry found for hootenanny.

n. pl. hoot·en·an·nies
  1. An informal performance by folk singers, typically with participation by the audience.
  2. Informal. An unidentified or unidentifiable gadget.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Youre doing a great job

Yesterday, I heard this one from a good friend.

He's shooting in the whole where the rabbit is.- He's doing a great job!!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Huntin' Dogs

There are so many different kinds of ole huntin' dogs that I can't remember 'em all. The rule growing up was that the dogs were hunting dogs not pets.

Walker Dog- white with black and brown spots
Blue Tick- blue with dark blue spots everywhere
Red Tick- red with red spots everywhere
Red Bone- all red
Mountain Cur- usually tan with bobbed tail
Black and Tan- solid black with tan spots

You really need pictures here, but I don't have any.

Huntin' Terms

I had a good conversation with my dad last night and gleaned some great southernisms on huntin'. You see, if you're from the South and you ain't got an ole dog layin' 'round somewhere, and a couple of guns, I wonder if you are truly Southern. Now, I don't have an ole dog around here. But we've named our fish "dawg". So I ain't being hipocritical or nonthin'.

As an amateur linguist I am amazed about how much of my Southern is subconcious. One of the purposes of this blog is to help me bring to the surface my inbedded Southernisms, which according to my linguistics classes was set at age 6. When I hear people from the South talk, there is little effort in understanding them. And I enjoy trying to figure out where all these sayings originated. It fascinates me. And I hope you are enjoying it also!!

any count- adj: useless. Is that ole dog any count? or That dog ain't no count.

right smart
- adj: a lot. Well, there's a right smart of food fer 'em to eat up thar.

fed up
- v: to feed an animal, usually a dog or pet and in conjunction with other "night work". He put the dogs in a pen and fed 'em up for the night. Every evening (eden) my dad does his "night work" which includes washing the poop out of the concrete pens, feeding the dogs, and cats, and any other little projects he may need to do with his fishing boats or truck.

runnin'the dogs
- v: to go hunting. When the dogs are runnin' they may bark while chasing the wildlife. Example: We ran them ole dogs last night= We went hunting. In my dad's case, he hunts coons, rabbits, squirrels, and foxes/coyotes. He is NOT a deer hunter. But many Southern hunters are. They may even display their trophies in the living room.

turn loose
- v: letting the dogs out of the "dog box" to start the hunt. We turned 'em out over Bull man's place (people in the South may have strange names). A "dog box" is a metal or wooden box usually home made for the purpose of transporting the dogs to the hunting area.

strike (struck)
- v: 1.when the dogs find their target and begin the pursuit 2.the action of the hunting dog when in pursuit of game. Ranger (the name of a dog) was struck over in yonder. They struck right in thar.

- v: to overtake the game on the ground. Usually, rabbits, deer, and foxes/coyotes are caught. This is not necessarily the intent of a hunt. As in the case of rabbit and deer hunting, one uses the dogs to bring the game within shooting distance of the hunter.

- v: the act of an animal who finds "refuge" in a tree. This is usually the final result of the hunt with tree climbing game like coons, possums, and squirrels et al. When a dog is treed, he is barking in a frenzied manner and usually has his front feet on the tree that the animal is in. When the dogs are treed, the hunters move in to shoot the game. Since coon hunting is done at night, a strong light is used to spot the coon's eyes. If he can't be found, the hunter may use a coon sqawler which makes a sound of wounded coon. This make the animal move around. Oddly, this noise can make a coon climb all the way down the tree. However, this is not a prefered use of the sqawler. It's main purpose is to locate the victim.

to go out of hearing
- v: when the dogs are running, they may go so far that you can't hear them anymore. This may be the time you get in your truck and drive around in order to hear them again.

- n: young female dog.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sawyer from LOST

I knew it. You can spot Southern boys a mile away. R and I had said that Sawyer, Josh Holloway, from the TV series LOST, must be from the South. And sure enough he is. Even though he was born in California he actually grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. He went to the univeristy of Georgia for a year before starting his modeling career. How 'bout dat? A hometown boy making it in the big time!

The Face of a Southerner.

Monday, January 17, 2005

MLK and Southernisms

Our little friend Martin King Jr. was a preacher before he became a civil rights leader, so he has a way with words. If you get a chance it would be worth the reading to get a holt of his speech. There aren't any striking "Southernisms" in that particular speech, but I bet you could find some from him in other places. He's as Southern as they come. Anyway what caught my attention was something of a style.

He said, "from every hill to every molehill in Mississippi." Now I've
heard, and you have too, making a mountain outa molehill, but I ain't never
heard this one. It fits the speech but it's an odd expression. Is he making it up? If so he's true Southern.

He also said, "prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire". I can't imagine that being a word he used in every day conversation. But the funny thing is that it fits rythmically with the speech.

One thing I can identify with is the allusion to the "sweltering heat of Mississippi". You got dat right.

And what about the governor of that great state of Alabamer (known as the Beautiful) who had "words of interposition and nullification." BTW do you know who the governer is that he's refern' to?

Halloween Tom Cat

We've been talkin' 'bout one of the thangs you got to be able to do when talking Southern is make up your own sayings. Miss Scarlett has got some good 'uns. Go see her. I made one up the other night without even thanking 'bout it. It wouldn't any good so I won't share it. But my good ole friend Eric from a little town on the Missipp and Alabamer line gave this one to me 'bout a yer ago. I guess it sort of describes my life at the moment.

I am bowed up like a Halloween Tom Cat.

Translation: I am under a lot of stress. I got a lot of things going on.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Gotch'a gun and dogs. Let's go coonhuntin'

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Southern Cuisine

This category like the neologist could have it own section. Maybe I'll try to figure out how to Archive these sayings by category.

It is hard to decribe Southern Cuisine. But I think you need a lot of frying grease and a homemade garden. I can't tell you how many people (almost everybody) who has a little garden. The top most planted items are tomatoes (commonly referred to as t'maters) followed by figs. I know not everyone's experience is like mine especially on the fig part, but my parents have a fig tree (did have two when I was younger), my grandparents had fig trees, and many other grow figs. I can remember as a kid being cautious around the fig tree because of snakes and bees. If your yard is big enough, you may a combination of any of blueberries, apples, grapes, scuppernongs, muscadines (Oh the delight of wild muscadines), plums, pears, pecans, squash, or okra. I got married to my wife because of advice from an okra patch conversation. If you own a lot of land you may also have a corn field and maybe a pea patch. Picking peas in a pea patch can kill your back, and shucking and silking corn can be quite the workout. But nothing compares to picking pecans on halves. Usually the owner of the pecan field lets you to pick up his pecans and at the end of the day you get half of the amount picked.

But Southern Cuisine is also about cooking. Many people in the South still go to church on Sunday and often the church will have potluck dinners....

By way of explanation, dinner time is the noon meal, while supper is the evening meal. Somewhere down the line, dinner came to mean the evening meal and lunch became the noon meal. Who ever heard of such!
...where people bring their favorite dishes. You'll find fried chicken, chicken 'n dumplins, pineapple casserole, yeast bread or a pone of cornbread, pimmento sandwhiches, banana pudding, watergate salad, and a host of other delicacies. So the next time you are at church in the South at some small little Baptist church (they're the most famous for this activity) in the Wildwood, look in the bulletin for a dinner on the grounds. You'll be glad you did. Years ago the dinner on the grounds used to be outside. You'd find a roofed area just beside the church building with concrete tables under the roof. The sides were usually open, so if it rained, you probably were going to get wet (Man, I wish I had a picture of this, for y'all who don't have a clue). Nowadays, dinner on the grounds is in the "fellowhip hall" of the church. (A fellowhip hall was usually the old church building beside the newer bigger one, or a building attached to the main sanctuary for the purpose of eating and of course "fellowshiping".)

Thanks to Rachel and Rachel for the cookin' ideas.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

If your going to speak Southern... must be a neologist. That simply means you make up your own expressions. My dad is great at this. However, most of what he has said I've heard for many years, but what makes him a neologist is that I have not heard too many others (in fact none) use some these expressions that you'll find here. Here's a couple for you. I'll post more later on. Tell me if you've heard them and from what part of the South. I would be very interested in knowing the source.
BEWARE, my dad is not always proper in his words.

He sounds like a calf dying in a hail storm.=

He has a bad cough and is very sick and makes a lot of noises during the ordeal.

The snow was knee high to a tall Indian.=

Not intended to be racist, but I think you get the picture.

That sounds like a mule farting in a jug.=

A male who can't sing, but especially a male who can't sing low base notes but tries.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Going back a bit

The other day we talked about "hollering".

Some of y'all may be tempted to think it is somethin' you do when you git in an argument with ch'a wife or girlfriend. And I guess you could use it that way. Like "there was a lot of hoopin' and hollerin' going on with them last night." But I was thanking of a little somethin' else.

Holler- v: To talk to someone usually followed by at ch'a later. So when two people close a conversation (either on the phone or in person), they will say I'll holler at ch'a later. It just means they are saying good bye and see you later ( in the standard vernacular)

Holler-n: A place in between a hill. Like in Mississippi, there are a lot of hills and hollers.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Twenty Special Southernisms

You may have actually received this exact email. My question is, can you help me find where these saying originated? That would be interesting to me. We've actually talked about number 18.


1. Only a true Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a
conniption and that you don't "HAVE" them, -- you "PITCH" them.

2. Only a true Southerner knows how much any fish, collard greens, turnipgreens,
peas, beans, etc. make up "a mess" (as in "a mess" of greens).

3. Only a true Southerner can show or point out to you the general
direction of "yonder."

4. Only a true Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is - as in:
"Going to town, be back directly. (generally pronounced dreckly)

5. All true Southerners, even babies, know that "Gimme some sugar" is not
a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty
little bowl on the middle of the table.

6. All true Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not
use the term, but they know the concept well.

7. Only a true Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace
for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl
of cold potato salad. (If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know
to add a large banana puddin')

8. Only true Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near"
and "a right far (pronounced "fur")piece." They also know that "just down
the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

9. Only a true Southerner both knows and understands the difference
between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

10. No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing
turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

11. A true Southerner knows that "fixin'" can be used as a noun, a verb, or
an adverb. (As in, I was fixin to go over to BettyLou's. Or, we had a huge
Christmas dinner with all the fixins. Or Are you fixin my car next?)

12. Only a true Southerner knows that the term "booger" can be a resident of
the nose, a descriptive, as in "that ol' booger," a first name, or something
that jumps out at you in the dark and scares you senseless.

13. Only true Southerners make friends while standing in lines. We don't do
"queues", we do "lines," and when we're IN, not ON, line we talk to everybody!

14. Put 100 true Southerners in a room and half of them will discover
they're related, even if only by marriage.

15. True Southerners never refer to only one person as "y'all"... more than
three is way more than one, it's "all y'all".

16. True Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

17. Every true Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee
are perfectly wonderful; that redeye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that
fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food We recognize milk gravy
when we see it, know what to do with it and wonder what the heck you other
people eat on your biscuits.

18. When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know
you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

19. Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea
indicates it contains sugar and lots of it - we do not like our tea
unsweetened . "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

20. And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies
who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart" and go your
own way.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

PBS Do you speak American?

Great show aired on PBS last night about English "dialects" of America. (Check it out) I personally thought they did not spend a lot of time on the South especially the Black Southern English. They did talk about Texas Black English, which sounded very similar to Black Southern English.

Guess I'll hollar at ch'uns later.

OOPS. I have not talked about that verb yet. Git it later. Check out my new favorite Southern link here. I will actually put a permanent link off to the side a little later on when I get some time.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The reflexive pronoun

I've noticed something that I do and others do. It is to use an objective pronoun redundantly and often with the verb to "get".

I'm going to get me a piece a' pie. She got herself a fine hairdo.

Is this a reflexive or reciprocal ? It is for sure redundant.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Jeet yet?

I sure have.


Today I had Memphis Style Bar P Q at Red Hot and Blue. Yesterday, I was suppose to chow down on some hog jawl and black eyed peas. Still plan to , but I'll hav' to wait till t'mar.

(I am going to have to get out Mark Twain to find out how to write Southern, any suggestions? Maybe I could use IPA? Yeah right.)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

What Is This?

I am starting a blog about particular phrases and words that I have heard most of my life. So many of my sources come from my own family. I have spent all but the last fours years of my life in the rural South. I am a Southerner. I am married to a Southerner. And most of my family is Southern. But this is not just my site. I would love to have anyone comment and send in original material. If you know the source or the history of the saying add that.