Friday, January 20, 2012

Southern Nuances

Living in the South now for the last 9 years, I have begun to appreciate the nuances of English as spoken in the South. Words and phrases are just used differently here, than in the Midwest where I grew up. Though in Kansas, one sort of grows up hearing Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern English. Still it takes time to get used to the changes, and for some of them to become part of my normal speech patterns.

Fixin' to: If you are Fixin To..., it means you are getting ready to do something.
Y'all or Y'alls (possessive form of Y'all): This one is fairly obvious, "You All".
Tank: farm pond.
Bar Ditch: The ditch beside the road.
Hissy Fit: a temper tantrum.

There are more of course, but perhaps the new favorite, is one with a dual meaning. I'm referring to the classic Southern phrase, "Why Bless Your Heart!" On the one hand it means just what it says--and connotes a feeling of sympathy and perhaps sorrow for the recipient, and a subtle request for the Lord to bless the heart of said recipient.

Now, as a cyclist, (you knew I'd work the biking thing in somehow!) one generally encounters polite to indifferent drivers. So long as they don't endanger me, I don't mind their indifference. However driver inattention is a serious issue. Cellphones and GPS's are a major culprit in this problem, but at least they are not activly seeking to cause harm. This brings me to the last category of driver--there are many names for them, none suited for polite company. These folks are the ones who deliberately crowd cyclists instead of passing safely to their left, the ones who yell incoherent rude-sounding slurs at cyclists, and some even throw things at cyclists.

Which brings me to last night's ride, and the alternate meaning behind Bless Your Heart....I was on a residential side street (I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say I was following the traffic laws), when at a stop sign, a truck decided it was funny to throw a cup of ice at me. Now it didn't harm me, as I was stopped for the sign, but it did startle me, which had I been rolling, could have caused an accident. Immediately, I wanted to curse the truck, but instead, remembered the Bless Your Heart phrase, and it's other see, here in Texas, and in the South, Bless Your Heart is something polite you can say, when you really want to call someone a scrofulous toad-sucking moron with delusions of grandeur! So instead of shouting rude names at the truck, and showing them the #1 salute, I merely shouted, Why Bless Your Heart! and waved wildly at them.

I felt better anyway...and remember, there will be a test later on this!

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