Author 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. 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:
…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!