Southernismsby Ella Sheridan
Thanks so much for hosting me, Aidee! I’m happy to be here sharing with y’all. Yes, y’all. I grew up in the South, and I incorporated some of the feelings and experiences I had growing up in a small, everybody-knows-everybody backwater town into my heroine in my new release, Dirty Little Secret. Cailin has moved to the “big city” of Atlanta, but you know what they say: you can take the girl out of the small town, but you can’t take the small-town out of the girl…or something like that.
Throughout my teen years, my family lived on a small farm out in the middle of nowhere. The closest neighbors were a mile down the dirt road. The nearest blink-and-miss-it town was fifteen minutes away by car, and Walmart and the grocery store were double that. My relatives closely resembled Jed Clampett and Granny, and yes, they “hear telled” all the local gossip and had “hankerings” for RC Cola and moon pies and were certain, when it came to anything a city slicker said, that “that dog won’t hunt.”
My generation wasn’t quite so colloquial, though I still occasionally spout Southernisms my Yankee husband (and yes, they are Yankees still, not Northerners) scratches his head over. We won’t even get into all the ways Yankees mispronounce words. I still cringe whenever The Hubs says “pu-JAM-uz.” No. There is no jam in our bed; jam is something you can over the summer to spread on toast the rest of the year. But I digress…
So, we aren’t quite as colloquial as prior generations, but some things remain, and I thought I’d share some of the Southernisms I sometimes use with you. This list could go on forever, of course, so I’ll limit myself to certain favorites. Recognize any of these? If so, you too may be infected with Southernisms…
Fixin’ to—the all-time most common phrase we “misuse”; means going somewhere, doing something, and, on very rare occasions and without the accompanying “to,” repairing something. “I’m fixin’ to go to the store.”
Y’all—the all-time most common contraction besides “ain’t”; because “all of you” or even “you all” just isn’t the same.
Ain’t—not the one that comes with Uncle Bob for Thanksgiving dinner; the contraction of “am not.” Can you picture thousands of Southerners stomping their feet and declaring like a two-year-old, “I am not!”? I can.
Cattywampus—cock-eyed. I’m not sure if wampuses are catty or not; I’ve never met one.
Bow up—like a cat, but figuratively. Mostly. “Don’t you bow up at me! You— That’s it. Boy, I’m gettin’ a switch!”
Hunky-dory—fine/great. I’ve never seen a hunky Dory; have you?
Coke—not “soda,” not “cola” or “pop.” All soft drinks are Coke (unless, of course, it’s Sprite).
Tump—to dump or push over. “No tumping that bucket of mud on your brother’s head, Sally Mae!” (which often leads to…)
Whoop—to spank or beat up; not an interjection, except when you have someone over your knee. “I”—whap—“told”—whap—“you”—whap—“not to do that”—whap whap whap whap!
Piddlin’—the bane of every child’s existence. “Stop piddlin’ around!” Used often during the growing-up years alongside “You’re slow as smoke off horse d**d**!”
Lord willin’ and the creek (pronounced “crick”) don’t rise—maybe. Really, that’s what it means. This wasn’t used as much when I grew up, but it did appear occasionally and usually in relation to…
Holler—to yell (verb) or, more often, the area at the base of a hill where you built your house and hoped the creek don’t rise.
Colder than a well digger’s butt—which is how cold? Colder than a witch’s teet, let me tell ya.
Gimme sugar—“Gimme a kiss.” Oh the grannies and the great-aunts and old church ladies who squeezed your cheeks and leaned in, their wrinkled, lipstick-caked lips approaching slowly but surely, demanding that you “gimme sugar.” *shudder*
Like a chicken with its head cut off—running around all crazy like. The phrase means a whole lot more when you’ve actually seen a chicken with its head cut off.
Nekked as a jaybird—really nekked. Which makes no sense whatsoever since birds have feathers, but still...
Hissy fit—tantrum; works only if it’s “pitched.”
Flat as a flitter—and yes, flitters are flatter than pancakes. They are.
Used to could—used to be able to. “I used to could get Jethro to work, but now he’s a good fer nothin’ no ’count.”
P**p or get off the pot—get on with it. Kinda like “fish or cut bait,” but while we do fish a lot in the South, we rarely cut the bait. Chamber pots are a much more common occurrence.
Bless their little heart!—most misunderstood phrase in the Southern language. Occasionally works as an actual blessing (when the person being blessed is sweet and kind), but more often a polite Southernism for “what an idiot!” Often accompanied by an eye roll.
So there you have it, some popular Southernisms to brighten your day. Whether or not any of these make an appearance in Dirty Little Secret, I won’t tell. You’ll have to read it to find out!
About Ella Sheridan
Ella Sheridan grew up in the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as the Deep South. Books provided her with adventures, friends, and her first forays into romance. To this day she explores the world through the words of her favorite authors, whether that’s the worlds across space and time or the worlds of love and passion. When she’s not writing or working or reading, she is corralling her two active teenagers, snuggling on the couch with her husband, working out her stress in a martial arts class, or sleeping. But no matter what she’s doing, the voices in her head just won’t let her go. Website: http://www.ellasheridan.wordpress.com
Dirty Little SecretAuthor: Ella Sheridan
Cover Artist: Dar Albert
Blurb: Cailin Gray transferred to the new Atlanta branch of her company to work for the senior vice president, Alex Brannigan. But before her job begins, she allows the anonymity of the big city to lure her into a night of dancing—and the arms of a mystery lover hotter than anything this country girl could imagine. When she wakes alone, his absence hurts more than she thought it would, but not nearly as much as walking into the office Monday morning and discovering her lover is her new, married boss.
Alex has one goal: help his best friend, Sara Beth, keep her inheritance. Their plan included a marriage of convenience—check—taking over the vice president’s position—check—and keeping the platonic state of their relationship secret until their position of power is solidified. That last takes time, but the resulting solitude weighs heavily. Until Cailin. He told himself a single night would have to be enough, but fate had other plans. Now he must choose between keeping his dirty little secret and fulfilling his promise to Sara Beth, or finding the strength to free them all from the secrets that bind them.
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