It’s our Dixie duty to pass on ‘Southern Speak’


Have you noticed that people from outside the south talk funny?  They also look at you funny when you open your mouth to speak.

I dare say, more people in America today can speak Spanish, than our beloved “Southern Speak,” aka “Hillbillibonics.”  Personally I prefer “Y’awlbonics.”

The truth is, if you like sweet tea, fried chicken, Elvis and NASCAR, you’d best go ahead and learn to speak southern. Therefore, I’ve made it my life’s goal to keep the melodic music of Southern Speak flowing freely.


Several weeks ago I ranted about the disappearing phrases of our grandparents, and received many wonderful additions to my informal compilation from readers who have better memories than I.  The best and most extensive was from Gerald Richardson of Starkville. It dawned on me that many of his favorite cliches and adages were born in the south.

Well, I swaney, Gerald, you sent in some I’ve never even heard.  There was a time when people used to “swaney” all over the place. The best I can determine, folks used it when they really wanted to swear, but were too polite or in mixed company.  Now days, no one even bothers to veil the swear words. They just dangle them right in your face.

Instead of insulting someone with degrading four letter terms, why not accuse him of having “grassy cotton.”

“During the days when cotton was king, this was the worst thing you could say about a man,” declared Richardson.  “It meant he was lazy and shiftless.”  (I don’t have grassy cotton, but I certainly have grassy daisies in my garden.  Know why?  Because I’ve been “lolly gagging around” too much.) But what a genteel way to cast aspersions on someone’s character.

Here are a few more that will go in my book if only because they baffle our Northern brethren:

*Osh Taters:  Mama will you ball me some Osh potaters for supper?

*Fahn:  “That sure is a fahn-lookin’ woman.”

*Bud:  Small feathered crature that flies. “A robin sure is a pretty bud.”

*Braht:  Dazzling. “Venus is a braht planet.”

*Dollin:  A term of endearment. (also pronounced dawlin’) “Dollin, will you marry me?”

mdd's In the south, we also believe in economy of words and combine as many as possible. “Yontny more cornbread?”  You could also say “Jewant more?” (Pray tell, how did we evah learn to spell?)

But, alas. People don’t stay where they’re born anymore.  That, complicated by 24-hour television, may very well produce the demise of the Southern drawl.  That would be a crying shame.  Once a verbal badge of honor (pronounced honah), Southern Speak may be relegated to the dinner table at Christmas time so long as our children don’t marry Yankees.

Before you know what’s happening we’ll be walkin’ too fast, talkin’ to fast and our mamas will give us only one first name.


Post script: I apologize for the confusion surrounding my Southern recipe for Caramel Cobbler last week. For the record you must use self-rising flour and 1-1/2 cups brown sugar – neither were clear in the recipe.  And don’t be confused when the mixture appears runny after the 35 minutes of baking specified. It will “set up” as it cools.

4 thoughts on “It’s our Dixie duty to pass on ‘Southern Speak’

  1. Thanks for the clarification. I used regular flour and cooked it longer than 35 minutes since it was still so runny. I realized later that cobblers are supposed to be “juicy”. Just to be sure, please clarify if recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar in the batter and then 1/1/2 cups of brown sugar as topping? Do you think it would work with Splenda in place of the granulated sugar?

  2. Yes Suzanne, white sugar goes in the batter and brown sugar on top with pecans. The hot water will blend it somewhat. I have no idea about splenda – do they make a brown sugar variety? – it would be easy to test it with a fraction of the ingredients and baking it in a ramekin – may try it, will let you know.

  3. Yes, Splenda does make a brown sugar. Try it with Splenda, Suzanne, and let us know!

  4. Thanks for the clarification. Even though I used plain flour, it was still very good, so I can’t wait to try it again with self-rising flour.

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