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Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communication. 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!.  

Friday, June 29, 2012


When was the last time you got a letter? To be honest, I can't remember - and that makes me sad.  I sort the mailbox harvest, in order of preference:  hand addressed envelopes, bills and other items with first class postage, then the junk mail which goes promptly into the recycle container in my kitchen.  I love getting holiday cards, announcements and invitations, and thoughtfully penned notes saying thank you or be well.  But it has been a very long time since a long newsy letter arrived except those of annual Christmas Letter variety.  I miss getting letters. I miss writing them.

I exchange email correspondence and Facebook messages.  I always have my cell phone with me.  I stay connected with my family in those ways although I have stopped short of texting and tweeting.  I savor engagement in these ways but I can't help but remember the difference in sitting down to write a letter and getting to settled to enjoy reading one.  Our electronic communications are immediate, instant gratification but briefer, to the point, with less feeling apparent.  Somehow posting a smiley face says so much less than a few sentences about feeling happy.

I have used the same expression most do in referring to mailbox content as "snail mail" - of course it is slower!  Just like many others, I now do my banking and much of my shopping online.  I love the internet tools available for researching, writing, and communication.  I am not suggesting we go back, only that we consider what may be lost in the progress and that we become more intentional in retrieving engagement and intimacy in our communications.  Maybe that is one of the reasons I choose to post weekly on my three blogs.

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.   ~ Phyllis Theroux

P. S.  The photograph above is a letter I wrote to my parents in 1963 while I was planning my wedding (December 28, 1963).  I found it recently when I was going through one of the many boxes belonging to her I have sorted and filed since her death in 2006.  I wonder if there will be any letters for my granddaughters to read in 50 years.  Somehow, printed emails don't seem to be keepers. Who knows?  They may keep digital scrapbooks which have a file for their children's letters.  I just hope the messages of the heart will be in them.