Southern expressions don’t always express meaning

Published 4:58 pm Friday, April 3, 2020


Community columnist

I have always been someone who has found human behavior interesting. I remember a time, that seems so long ago, when we were still allowed to go out in public. I enjoyed going to some sort of public place and sitting on a bench and watching people walk by and I would be fascinated with all the different hairdos and the shapes and sizes and wondered what type of stories these people could tell. 

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There is no more interesting place to people watch than at a county fair. I will say that I am fascinated with the vast diversity of people. I never realized there were so many different types of NASCAR and Professional Wrestling shirts in the world until I people watched at the fair.   

However, I believe that the differences between people is something that should be celebrated. 

One of the things that differentiates us is language. It seems that every region of the country, and sometimes areas within the same state, has words or phrases that are indigenous to the local area. Living in this part of the country, I always find these words interesting and anyone who lives outside the area would likely require a translation book to communicate to figure out exactly what we are talking about. 

For example, a Southern mother will tell her child to, “Quit being ugly,” when the child is acting inappropriately. People from other parts of the country would likely think this was some sort of verbal abuse making fun of the child’s appearance instead of a plea to behave. 

I have always wondered how to quit being ugly but haven’t figured it out just yet. 

When a Southern woman says to her child, “I’m gonna jerk a knot in your tail,” the kid should know that they have pushed it as far as they’re going too and what comes next will not be pretty.  

Of course, when a Southern woman says a name and follows it up with, “Bless their heart,” you know a bit of trash talking is coming next. 

It seems that many times Southern women have a language all their own and even their husbands many times don’t understand what is actually being said. When a man does or says something stupid and the Southern woman insists that everything is fine, don’t fall for it. What she is actually saying is, “I’m tired of talking about it and you need to go away.”  

If a husband says he is going to spend all their savings on a new bass boat and the wife says, “Yea go ahead,” it does not mean he has permission to buy the boat. What she is saying is, “You go ahead and see what happens.” Then when he tells her he already bought it and she says, “That’s OK,” it means she is currently meditating on how to murder him in his dsleep. 

When a husband tells his wife some wild story about what he and his friends did last night when they were drunk and she replies, “Wow,” despite what he may think, she is not impressed with how cool he is. She is actually saying that she cannot believe how stupid one person can be and she is married to it. 

Finally, when a Southern woman says, “Oh hell no,” don’t bother to run because it’s already too late to stop what’s coming. Language is important to help us understand each other and in these situations, it just may save your life.