Redneck Girl?


colloquialismAuthor Elizabeth Aston (or anyway, her Polish character in Writing Jane Austen) says the word doggone is only used in old films. I suppose that means I’m a classic film star. That, or I’m just a whole lot more backwoods than haute culture.

Ever since A History of Western Music in college, I’ve adored opera. With the exception of Wagner, that is. But it used to make me roll my eyes, how dramatic people were, even in comic opera. How do you sigh in music? If it’s in German, you sigh with a tremulous “Ach!”

I remember very clearly thinking, Nobody in the history of the world ever said “ach!” when they meant to sigh.

The next day, a pile of papers fell on the floor, and I said, “Awk!”

And I realized a whole lot of people in the history of the world have said–and continue to say–“Ach!”

It took me into my thirties to realize that my vocabulary includes a whole host of colloquialisms, many of which I don’t vocalize regularly, if at all, but which are deep in my internal narrative anyway.ย Coming from a rural Missouri German community filled with names that begin in Sch and end in haus, my background contains quite a few colloquialisms that I never recognized as such:

Aw, foot!

…from the git-go (We say it just like that, git-go, even though it’s probably “get go,” and either way it makes no sense. It means “from the beginning.”)

Crime-a-nit-ley! (No idea how to spell that.)

There are also things we call by nonstandard names. Most people are familiar with the dinner vs. supper thing, for instance. In my world, “dinner” was when you had a big meal at noon. “Supper” was what you had every night. This is no longer how I refer to things, but that’s how I grew up.

I called upon my sisters to help me brainstorm more of them, they came up with these:

Sweeper instead of vacuum–one that has driven my husband mad since the day I met him. I have largely replaced it, but it still slips out once in a while.

Turner vs. spatula. I have to wrap the term “scraper” into it as well. To this day I’m not sure which name to use for whatever utensil I’m talking about. My poor children, like their mother before them, are completely lost.

What regional or ethnic oddities of speech do you use or encounter? Do tell! And tell us the region and/or ethnic component too!

6 thoughts on “Redneck Girl?

  1. Stephanie Butz

    Ok, southwestern Pennsylvania is famous for these things: pop instead of soda, nylons instead of panty hose, soap powder instead of laundry detergent, also sweeper instead of vacuum, buggy instead of shopping cart, Haw ya doin?( how are you). Goin dawn tawn (going down town). Yins (means all of you) also pronounced yoons by some. Warsh (wash). Warshington (Washington). Sewerage (sewage). Picksburgh (Pittsburgh). The days of the week are Sundee, Mundee, Tuesdee, etc. Its mum or mummy, not mom or mommy. Iggle instead of eagle. We have so many in this area and I don’t know how it started or where it came from. This area is made up of so many ethnicities but started with a lot of German and Polish immigrants. It’s very interesting.

  2. What a question to ax a N’awlins goil. We have neutral grounds, not medians in our roads. We drink coke–and ask you what kind you prefer (sprite, root beer coke, etc). Lagniappe is a little something extra. Grocery shopping is “making groceries” though I hear that a lot more in ads or in things about New Orleans than I do in conversation. We “make” Mass. Like you, people buy soap powder and use buggies. Your female parent is yo’ mamma. My husband washes dishes in the zinc. African Americans refer to their aunts as their an-tees. Godparents are often called Nanan and Parran.

    My Dad spoke German at home as a kid. I don’t know if these are made-up words or bastardized German or what, but he used to call us kids “hoon-yaaks” and “shy-zers” (phoenetic)

    Who dat is kind of like hello, kind of like who is there and definitely a cheer for our beloved Saints.

  3. dottie

    My parents were both born in little German towns in Mo. St. Elizabeth and Mary’s Home. My mother must have said “Ach!” 10 times a day. The heat register was “the heat hole” which we liked to stand on to warm up until a sibling made us move. My parents were born in 1902 and 1906. Maybe age had something to do with “heat hole.” I was born in St. Louis and we always put an “r” in the word, wash, as in Warse and “fourty” was “forty.” It’s taken me awhile to get out of that habit!

  4. Sharon Twenter

    When we lived in Cincinnati people would tell us they going to go have their picture made, where as we would have our picture taken. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Emily

    Grandpa Gene always says, “Ach himmel!” when he’s losing at cards or exasperated about something. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just Googled it and found out that it means, “Oh, heavens!” It always makes me giggle!

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