Help! I need a translator


Facebook is full of Do You Remember pictures.  A lot of them start off with “Do you remember this in your grandmother’s kitchen”.  My response frequently is well duh, and right now it is in my kitchen.  In fact, it was a wedding present.  Ouch.  Another reminder that I am not a spring chick anymore.  Which by the way, what in the world is a spring chick?  Don’t chickens have little chickens all year round?  And what makes a spring chick special.  Do you ever wonder about sayings?  It’s funny, now that I am of that certain age, I catch myself using more and more of the old terms.  I say it is because I can’t bear the thought of the dialect of my youth dying out, but mostly, it’s because they fit the situation best.

I am a Hillbilly Girl.  I used to think that I was a Southern Girl and held on to that elusive description because of the beauty and romance associated with that name.  Once I met and married Nort, I found out that different parts of Arkansas have different terms and sayings, but I still thought of myself as southern.  Then, we moved to Mississippi.  Pretty hard to get much more southern than that.  Here I found out that I’m not really southern.  I didn’t understand half of what people said and I seemed to confuse people as much as they confused me.  I found out that while I speak Arkansawyer and can converse well in Oklahoman and some Texan, I didn’t speak Mississippian.

Of course I knew that different parts of the country had different ways of saying things, I mean, I have known people from other states.  Once we got Dee in the family, we learned that the people in Utah have strange ways of speaking.  I think she nearly killed us all talking about the “dungarees on the davenport.”  Kind of rolls off the tongue don’t you think?  In that case, it was just her sounding different in my home place.  And by now, she sounds just like one of us, well, most of the time anyway.

Now I am the one having trouble understanding the natives.  For instance:  I went to a fast food eatery and placed my order.  “Thabyal” the counter person asked.  Huh?  What?  I stared blankly at her.  “Thabyal” she says again just a little louder.  Again I stared.   What is she trying to say I think.  “T..H..A..B..Y..A..L.”  I had to say to her, “I don’t understand.”  By then she was really frustrated with this idiot customer.  “I sayed, Will. That. Be. All.”  Ah, I see, and at that stage of the game, oh yes, that was all.

And then there are “Nabs”.  I first heard this from a co-worker who said he was going to get some “nabs” and wanted to know if I wanted any.  Since I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about, of course my answer was no thank you.  Didn’t think anything more about it until a few days later Nort comes home from work and enlightens me.  He also had wondered what in the world “nabs” meant but didn’t want to ask and look even dumber that he already seemed.  A person had come in his store to pay for gas and had put a package of cheese crackers on the counter saying, “Might as well get some nabs for later.”  A light came on, “nabs” meant cheese crackers.  This worked for a while until someone bought a candy bar saying they needed a “nab.”  Back to square one.  We have finally learned that a “nab” is a snack food of just about any sort.  And no, WE don’t call them nabs, we are just not that Mississippian.

I do love how they use the honorific of Ms. (always pronounced Miz) and Mr. here.  I grew up using the Mr. or Mrs. to an older person until given permission to use their first name.  And there were/are people I would never call by their first name, but always Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So.  I do find the Ms. (never Mrs.)  disconcerting some times though.  It just feels weird to have an age related or older than me person call me Ms. Linda.  People I’ve worked with for a year or more now, call me Ms. Linda.  Nort’s clerks call him Mr. Norton, but most of them are younger than him.  He does have two that call him Norton, but they are his age and older.  And it’s funny, there are some people I call just by their given name and some get the Ms. or Mr.   Some people do use my given name solo sometimes and sometimes I get the Ms. from them.  I think that unless you are a native, you will not be given the secret code to the usage of Ms. or Mr.

Which brings to mind, do you remember when we first began the usage of the term Ms.?  Back then, we called women we were not on a first name basis with either Mrs. Smith or Miss Doe.  Then, horror of horrors, Women’s Lib came along and introduced us to Ms.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Society was going to fall and there would be panic in the streets!  I can remember my grandfather just having fits.  I also remember older women being offended by the Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss.  Didn’t I know that they were/were not married?  How long had I known them?  It was MRS. SMITH or MISS DOE, thank you very much.  Flash forward to the present day.  When was the last time you called someone Mrs. Smith?

Have you ever tried to explain to your south-west Arkansas born and raised husband just what it means when you say that someone is “funny turned”?  It means that someone is funny turned, what else describes that condition?  I spent thirty minutes trying and finally gave up.  You either know what that means or you don’t.  Same way with the time I had the flu (the real, horrible, stay in bed for a week flu) and I told him I felt like I was “nigh on to dyin”.  He kept asking if that meant I felt better.  Now if you felt like you were near death (which is what it means) would that mean you felt better?  I don’t think I was very gracious when he asked again even if he meant it well.

I must say he is getting better about not understanding me sometimes, or he covers his amusement better.  After all, he has his own weird way of putting things.  I never know what he means when he tells me it is “Fifteen of one” when I ask what time it is.  I just nod and say thanks.  Then I go look at a clock, much easier than trying to figure him out.

Some day, just for fun, drag out all the old things you heard your grandparents and parents say (though you worked so hard to learn how to get the point across properly) and use them.  Go to the store and ask for “warshing powders” and once you have purchased your laundry detergent tell them “oh honey, you don’t need to put that in no poke.”  Such fun!

Wait, where was I, oh yeah, all the cool stuff I have in my kitchen……..


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