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Showing posts with label East Texas idioms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label East Texas idioms. Show all posts

Friday, October 4, 2013

How Did You Say That?


I grew up in East Texas with one sister, and Mother and Daddy owned a cafe, but it wasn't named after us. When I saw this,  I couldn't resist thinking about the way we talked, so here's to " putting a little south in your mouth"

In 1960,  I was traveling by train from Texas to California in order to work for several months for the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It was the first time I remember being noticed for the way I spoke.  I asked a conductor a simple question - "Can you please tell me the way to the dining car?" And he laughingly replied, adding "...and what part of Texas are you from, little lady?"  I was shocked because I didn't think I sounded different!  Yes, growing up in East Texas gave me a drawl that has only diminished a little in all the years of living away from there. But many East Texas influences on my language have stayed with me.  Whether you define unusual regional words and phrases as idioms, colloquialisms, vernacular, or just plain peculiar, sometimes they require explaining to someone "not from there."

There are a lot of words and phrases used differently from dictionary definitions that are common in East Texas.  I mean a whole bunch of them!  Just a few examples are:

Sorry - a particularly important Texas adjective meaning worthless, no-count, useless, bad. Enhanced inflection makes it more emphatic.

Place - an individual's farm or ranch.

 Swan – as in “I swan” - used instead of "I swear."

All worked up - in a state of aggravation, arousal of some type, in a state of deeply offended pride, offended sensibilities, 

Frog strangler, Gully washer as in “It came a frog strangler and a gully washer.”
This refers to a very heavy rain. 

Come hell or high water - shows determination to proceed, regardless of the problems or obstacles.

You done stopped preachin' and gone to meddlin'. - You're sticking your nose into my business. -

And other words that may not be in the dictionary at all:

Larrapin - a few fingers tastier than finger-lickin' good.

Over Yonder - a directional phrase meaning "over there."

Hissy fit, also called conniption fit - state of extreme agitation and not a pretty thing to see.

Downright  - very, very

Plum good -  delicious!

the cat that ate the canary -  a guilty countenance

I grew up with these admonitions:

Beauty is skin deep.
Pretty is as pretty does.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Save a penny, save a pound.
Waste not, want not

You needn't get on your high horse! - Don't take offense.
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  - be sweet, not sour!
A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down - almost like saying the donkey needs a carrot!
He is walking in tall cotton.  - This can refer to someone who has "made it" -  and is "living high"
Use it up, wear it out.  Make it do, or do without.  This is kin to "waste not, want not."
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.  You get the message!



There are many more I could work on remembering. I think about what makes these rise to the surface of my mind so quickly. It is not the words or how crazy they sound or how they are put together.  It is the context in which I heard them, and the people who spoke them.  Today I smile, and am glad to add this to memories of those years.  Try a little south in your mouth!.