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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-02-2006, 09:03 PM   #21
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Re: Southernisms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
So do you southerners have strong accents? Less so than your parents or about the same?

Do southerners really often call each other by the first and middle name? Like Sue Ellen, or Billy Bob. Are there rules for this depending on what your middle name is?
I do like the southern example of kids referring to adults as Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Now that's polite.
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 01:45 AM   #22
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Re: Southernisms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
I have heard the differences when we visit southern areas, and also hear a number of people that have no perceptible accent.

In my state, there is a strong urban-rural difference in speaking. Urban speakers sound more standard midwest, rural speakers have the accent. I can swing both ways.

Similar in the south?
In Texas it is.

JG
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 08:24 AM   #23
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Re: Southernisms

It always amuses me when someone here in Texas asks me where I am from. The response, New Orleans usually brings something like, I could tell by your accent. I've only been gone from NOLa since 1960. And the Nawlins accents do sound like Brooklyn, at least a little.

As to the southernisms, I remember pi$$ing off a smart gal from Michigan by saying: "I'm fixin to" do something. Must have grated on her. Good. She was proud of how many books she had read. Well, I've read a few myownself. And, I'm fixin to read another one today, ya hear.
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 08:42 AM   #24
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Re: Southernisms

Fid'na...

Slight variation on "fixin' to"...
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 10:11 AM   #25
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Re: Southernisms

"Say WHUUuuuut?!?" - spoken by my Georgia uncles when told something particularly astounding - and just about anything anyone else does is considered astounding.

"Miss Audrey" - how I'm addressed in Middle Georgia. - well actually I should add a few more syllables to my name for it to really "sound" right. "Well, HAaaY Miss Audrey!" would be a typical greeting.

HUGE difference between a deep south accent (GA, AL, eastern LA) and a Texas accent. Texas accent seems to be less "drawl" and more "twang". But we still use the same terminology (ya'll, I reckon, fixin', etc.)

Audrey

P.S. I have also heard Brits use "reckon" as a verb.
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 11:21 AM   #26
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Re: Southernisms

So small there was not enough room to swing a cat

That lasted about as long as a fart in a whirlwind

On a road trip to kayak on the Rio Grande in Texas, we saw a ranch gate with Jim Bob Smith on it. For the rest of the trip, everyone had double names of which the second one was Bob, even Bob Bob, and the women.
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 11:59 AM   #27
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Re: Southernisms

I don't know where this one originally came from but a girlfriend in my youth used jump up and say "I haven't had this much fun since granny got her t boob caught in the wringer."
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 04:16 PM   #28
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Re: Southernisms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
So do you southerners have strong accents? Less so than your parents or about the same?
That depends on a lot of things. I find my manner of speech and accent tends to change depending on the audience and the forum. Speaking before a group or on TV or radio I adopt not quite an accent-less speech, but as close as I can get. If I'm around nothing but Southerners I don't care about the accent because I know that I'll be understood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Do southerners really often call each other by the first and middle name? Like Sue Ellen, or Billy Bob. Are there rules for this depending on what your middle name is?
I'm not sure I have the definitive answer as to how all of that came about, but I have what I think is a reasonable explanation. Southerners have long had a strong sense of place and heritage, so we often name our children after family members or famous people who we respect and admire (had an uncle named after John Calhoun and a grand niece named Meg Ryan). Often we will use the first names of two different family members to come up with a first and last name. This may be a Scots-Irish thing, because I look at the names of my Dutch and German ancestors and don't see anywhere near as many repeating names as I do on the Scots-Irish side.

Anyway, we wind up with people whose names are similar to other family members, and to differentiate between Aunt Martha and our cousin named after her, we will often refer to the cousin as Martha Anne. I can't say how we wound up with so many people with the middle name of Robert. I wonder if it started as an homage to Robert E. Lee? You always know when your parents are serious because they use both of your names (James Robert Smith, you better get in this house right now and eat Supper).

I have also noted that when we are feeling particularly close to someone and we want to convey a compliment or a piece of well intended advice, we will use both names (William Lee, I 'm not sure why that girl loves you, but if you don't marry her you are a complete fool). That may be reminiscent from how our parents would use both of our names in such situations.

As to how we came up with the idea of using double dimunitives (James Robert becoming Jim Bob) I don't have a clue.

Double named girls can have an added twist to honor a beloved male relative: Donna Jo (for Joe), Mary Jean (for Gene), Ruth Earline (for Earl), etc and so on.

We also tend to use derivatives (nicknames) as dimunitives and/or to differentiate one James from another. So we wind up with Uncle James, Little James, Jimmy, etc. Then there nicknames that are earned from physical characteristics - Bear or Moose (for a huge guy) Red, Slim, Curly, Shorty, Tiny, etc. And we also have a slew of nicknames that come about because a younger family member cannot pronounce someone's proper name. Brother becomes Bubba, Grandma becomes MawMaw, or MeeMaw, or Big Momma and we have just as many PawPaws and Big Daddy's to match them.

And finally, we just like nicknaming people. Over the years I have met plenty of folks named Scooter, Junior, Corky, Rabbit, Mack, Mo, Buck, etc.

Strangely enough, nicknames can be used in very formal and respectful tones. My girlfriend in High School lived in the city during the week with her mom (a teacher) and on weekends they went to the country where her dad's family had owned a nursery farm for ages. Her grandfather was nicknamed by his family, but all the local workers knew him as "Mr. Buddy". Her dad, Mr. Buddy's son, was nicknamed "Little Buddy", and that was how he was known by both family and employees. But after he grew up and came home to work the farm, the employees called him "Mr. Little Buddy". I remember going into the nearby small town one day to pick up something and overhearing someone ask the storekeeper "who is that boy?" The reply was, "That's Cordelia's young man. He's visiting out at Mr. Little Buddy and Miss Jean's place."

I guess there are no formal rules. If you're from the South it's something you learned at the same time as walking and talking. If you're from someplace else and visiting, then rule number one is "be respectful." You have to know that while you may see a funny nickname and hear an accent you associate with poor education and culture, I can take you today to see a world renowned trauma surgeon who goes by the nickname "Red" and says things like: "We're fixin' to operate on some old fella down in the O.R., you'all want to watch a pancreaticoduodenectomy?" http://utsurg.uth.tmc.edu/trauma/biographies/duke.html

If someone prefers their nickname you will probably know right away (Just come by and ask to see Tiny back in the shop and I'll get you all fixed up), and if not, then don't try and make one up for them. If you see the man's name on his workshirt is written James Robert, he is most definitely not Jim Bob, or even Jimmy, and probably not even Jim. Calling him outside of his preferred name will get you a dirty look, and doing it in a Yankee accent may earn you some nap time on the concrete. When in doubt, call a male "sir" and a woman "ma'am" - it will earn you points for being polite and they'll usually say "just call me Junior" or "Sweetie, everyone calls me Aunt Pitty Pat".

Some other time we'll talk about when it's polite and acceptable to refer to a complete stranger as Sugar, Sweetie, Darling or Baby.
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 05:13 PM   #29
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Re: Southernisms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonidas
Some other time we'll talk about when it's polite and acceptable to refer to a complete stranger as Sugar, Sweetie, Darling or Baby.
That one took me by surprise, but not in an offensive way. In fact I kinda like it. Now I'm obviously one of the older gents where I work, but the first week I was there, the woman at the cafeteria checkout looked at me, slight smile, and said something like, "That's $3, baby." She was way my junior but the way it was said was pure kindness and affection in a way. No offense meant or taken. Now, I call her honey or baby once in a while (we've kinda gotten to be workplace buddies - I've seen pictures of her grandkids, etc.).

So educate me: when is it OK and when not?
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 05:45 PM   #30
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Re: Southernisms

They call me Miz Astro at the hospital. I like it.

=Astro Jo <yup, Jo's my real life middle name..after my granmaw, Astro Josephine)
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-03-2006, 06:50 PM   #31
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Re: Southernisms

Hmmm

Mr Captain Mick was about as far as I got promoted in Lake Catherine - apparently owning a boat or commercial fishing license is not required - not being a sweat, too young or white trash helps.

Google The Gumbo Pages where Chuck Taggert has a New Orleans dictionary.

Memory says my 74-76 days in Huntsville,AL - I got pretty good a picking out the Tenn commuters from the AL born and raised.

I was only so so - picking various New Orleans. Coming from Denver - I thought I landed in Brooklynn.

heh heh heh heh
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-04-2006, 11:10 AM   #32
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Re: Southernisms

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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
That one took me by surprise, but not in an offensive way. In fact I kinda like it. Now I'm obviously one of the older gents where I work, but the first week I was there, the woman at the cafeteria checkout looked at me, slight smile, and said something like, "That's $3, baby." She was way my junior but the way it was said was pure kindness and affection in a way. No offense meant or taken. Now, I call her honey or baby once in a while (we've kinda gotten to be workplace buddies - I've seen pictures of her grandkids, etc.).

So educate me: when is it OK and when not?
I was speaking tongue in cheek because the nuances of this are many and sometimes complex. Imagine suddenly moving to an Inuit village and trying to understand when to call snow pirta and when it should be called cellallir (blizzard vs. severe snowstorm). As you’ve found with your cashier friend, if you’re “not from around here” it takes some getting used to. I’ll give it my best shot – although some other Southerners may want to chime in and correct me where I miss the mark.

For the most part such terms are usually used when at least one party in the conversation is female. Although in some places, like New Orleans, it is not uncommon for men to use the term ‘baby’ with other men. What’s up baby, how you doin’?

It can be familial in a caretaking sense, like calling your great aunt “dear” or your young niece “sweetie”, but you can do it to complete strangers – especially when you’re being helpful and looking out for someone as you would for a family member. Let me help you with that package dear. Careful sweetie, that stove is hot. Or a waitress giving good advice, “the tuna salad is not that good today honey, but the chicken salad is fabulous.”

Most waiters and waitresses use terms of endearment to be friendly, a little flirtatious and to boost their tips. If my wife and I go to dinner she doesn’t think anything of me calling a waitress “sweetie” anymore than I would be bothered if a waiter called her the same. But that doesn’t mean that our “relationship” is one that allows anybody to take advantages that were never implied.

It can be used in a semi-flirtatious manner. Southern women of business can turn on the charm and throw a “sugar” or “darling” into a conversation as part of a sales pitch. People like to be liked, to be flattered, etc., and after a couple of well placed terms of endearment you will likely find yourself walking away with a new purchase that later will have you scratching your head as you wonder “why the hell did I buy this stupid thing?"

Your cashier friend is not really flirting with you in such situation. If she were making some moves on you, I'd bet she would call you "Richard"- never sweetie, honey, babe. Those terms are for people she likes well enough, but half the time can't remember their name or never learned it in the first place. If you ever earn the spot of "friend", you'll become Dr. Tampa, Dr. Richard, or maybe even Richard or Rich - with the occasional "baby" thrown in as aural punctuation.

It is considered basic politeness in many places because of our concept of family that is extended to include friends and neighbors. Most of the South was settled by descendants of the clans that came from the Scottish Borders via the Ulster Plantation. It’s based on collateral rather than lineal descent, and kinship became conceptual as well as ancestral. We “collect” people and bring them into our fold because we prefer to make allies, friends and kinsmen rather than enemies. Making you feel included by using endearing terms, even if it’s a little superficial, is just one way we try to win you over to our side.

Women can get away with using it on just about anybody in practically any situation or setting. As a man I feel that we have to be a little more careful. Between good friends a cheerful “Hey sweetheart, give me a hug” is quite acceptable and means you are a dear friend to me. But, when dealing with strangers I am less likely to use the endearing terms when I am close enough in age, social standing, background, comparable physical attractiveness, etc. to be a potential paramour. So, while I would almost never call a woman I just met at a cocktail party “baby”, I would think nothing of asking the older woman working for the caterer “excuse me dear, does that dip have shellfish in it?”

How you say it and what your intentions are also make a difference. If I accidentally jostle a lady in a nightclub it would be good manners to say “excuse me darlin’, I’m sorry for being clumsy.” But if I gave that same woman an appraising glance and a “hello baby, you sure are cute”, then I’m flirting. I need to be prepared to go dance with her, or go “dancing” with her boyfriend in the parking lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemick2
I was only so so - picking various New Orleans. Coming from Denver - I thought I landed in Brooklynn.
My NOLA friends insist that their is no such thing as a New Orleans accent. Rather, there is a Garden District accent, a 9th Ward accent, an Irish Channel accent, etc. Me, I hear some people speaking Southern American English, some speak nearly accent-less, and the one you're referring to - the Irish Channel folks. One friend says that the reason in similarities between Irish Channel and Brooklyn is that both places had nearly identical migration patterns in the 1800's (Italian, German, and somebody else who I forget)
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-04-2006, 11:30 AM   #33
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Re: Southernisms

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...I can take you today to see a world renowned trauma surgeon who goes by the nickname "Red" ...
I 'member ol' Red. One of the world's great characters.

The very last time he was seen on TV, he was being followed by a camera into the operating room--where The Preacher of Health (homilies delivered from horseback from some knoll in the Hill Country) was observed on camera to put Red Man tobacco in his cheek. Yer down the road, Red.
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-04-2006, 12:03 PM   #34
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Re: Southernisms

Thank you Leonidas, that was very interesting and helpful.

I come from a culture that is much more distant and less "warm." But the older I get, the more inclined am I to use terms such as "dear", "hon" and "sweetie."
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Re: Southernisms
Old 11-04-2006, 12:21 PM   #35
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Re: Southernisms

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Originally Posted by Leonidas
Your cashier friend is not really flirting with you in such situation.
Damn .

That was a fascinating reply - thanks. I have heard that the Tidewater/NC "accent" is actually closer to the accent of the British (Scottish?) settlers at the time then is contemporary English English (though I cannot imagine how someone researched that). It's a very charming bit of Americana and, like Martha, I like it and hope it persists.
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