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Ever Heard of a "Southernism"? What's Your Country's "South"?


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The concept of a Southernism is, according to Merriam Webster, "an attitude or trait characteristic of the South or Southerners especially in the United States."

Though highly polarized accents and dialects slowly fading in the U.S., you'll still often hear regional differences in the pronunciation and idioms used. Some of the words and phrases that come out of the South can even give native Americans pause. (Especially when animal similes start appearing lol) A few of them are just plain kooky, but most just have a fun "down-home" spirit if you ask me. Here are some of my favorites:

"Crooked as a dog's hind legs"

"Fixin' to go" (G's are often missing at the end of words in Southern accents)

"Slow as molasses on a winter day"

"Full as a tick"

"Y'all come back, ya hear" (It's like "Come back soon," not a command, but an invitation for a later date)

"Come sit a spell"

Those are some of the ones that my family personally uses, but here's a pinboard that I found with several more http://www.pinterest.com/rondamorhaime/southernism-s/

You'll often come across them in humorous Country songs to.

What are some regions in other parts of the world that are considered peculiar (in a good natured way) by the rest of their country? And why? Funny accents, odd ways, or something else?

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I am from the South, so I know a few. Here is one I have heard since I was little.

"Drunker than Cooter Brown."

I always wondered who this Cooter Brown was. He must have had a heck of a time, for this saying to get passed around! I can not wait to see what else gets shared! I have always had an interest in funny sayings.

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My parents are from the Southern part of the United States. They really didn't use many Southern colloquialisms. I do have a few friends from the South with lots of very colorful phrases. I can't list most of them here though :amazed:

"Thank you" which can be used as a general cuss word.

"That dog don't hunt." I'm not really sure what this means.

"Pay me now, pay me later."

"If you can't say amen, say ouch." This one is my favorite and I use it whenever I can.

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Yea, I was thinking a lot of the quotes I know are not suitable to post on here. The South seems to be full of funny and colorful people. I really am not sure if there are any other people out there like us!

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What are some regions in other parts of the world that are considered peculiar (in a good natured way) by the rest of their country? And why? Funny accents, odd ways, or something else?

We kind of have that too, although not just in the South - the Portuguese North is a bit more chastised. In general, we find Northerns have a ruder approach to language (they swear a lot!), and they also switch "v" with "b" (which is an influence from Galicia), but are very pro-active and friendly. In the South, especially the region of Alentejo, their speech pattern is slower than the rest, and you get the feeling that even time moves slowly in those parts. They are also generally a more brooding type of people, but also extremely creative. 

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  • 5 months later...

We have a lot of those sayings here on the island too. I guess every region has their own. Most would be in our native language so one close to English would be to say someone is thief like Miss Mary's pus, meaning that the person is a professional thief.

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I don't think there is a strict definition of the "south" in the United States, but it could be explained this way:

During the American Civil War (1861-65), the "southern" states were in favor of slavery; the "northern" states were against it. If you look at a map of the USA, the states of Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and all the states south of them, were "the south." (This included North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.)

Another way to define the "south" is what's called the Mason-Dixon Line. This is a little farther north and includes West Virginia and Maryland in "the south." It is still thought of as indicating the cultural boundary between the north and south.

Usually the expression "the south" is used when speaking about states that are in the southern part of the US and east of the Mississippi River.

Whatever the definition, "the south" in the United States certainly has its own culture, including accent, idioms & expressions, food, and many other things.

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I'm also from the American South, so I hear these fairly frequently. Not so much in my family, but around. Although the South doesn't fit the stereotype so often attributed to it, there are indeed a lot of hicks. And I like it because they are interesting, colorful, and fun to listen to and talk to.

My favorite one is my favorite because it is unique: outside a certain area, you will never hear it.

¨The devil is beating his wife.¨

This is a very unique colloquialism for saying that it is raining. And I always hear it only from older people.

I don't use many of the Southernisms, although I do say ¨ya'll¨ while at home. I travel, so I've learned to sound more neutral. I drop the ya'll when I'm traveling of course. 

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We have some strange lingo here in South Africa but slang words are all I can think of. Lekker means good and I cant seem to think of any others off hand but I will get back to you on this as I have friends that have no idea what I mean sometimes because of our "Dialect"

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I'm from a more metropolitan area of the south in America. However, I think I might know a few of the Southern sayings that people use further away from the beaches or near New Orleans.

"Who Dat?" - I'm putting this here because only the South where I live are New Orleans Saints fans. Basically, you'd only here this as an idiom around the South of North America.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket"- This refers to not putting all your hopes into one belief or thing.

"In a coon's age"- It means that it's been a long while since something has happened, like you seeing someone or an event that happened years ago.

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My parents are from the Southern part of the United States. They really didn't use many Southern colloquialisms. I do have a few friends from the South with lots of very colorful phrases. I can't list most of them here though :amazed:

"Thank you" which can be used as a general cuss word.

"That dog don't hunt." I'm not really sure what this means.

"Pay me now, pay me later."

"If you can't say amen, say ouch." This one is my favorite and I use it whenever I can.

That dog won´t hunt .. I think you mean ´that dog ain´t going to hunt´.. or something similar to that.  It just means something is  unacceptable... usually in the context of someone behaving badly.

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In hungary the people from southern regions talk like different, in other dialect. It's really funny and we keep joking with my grandma, that whenever she visits her hometown and even just passes the county border she starts to talk different. How did they called this on How I Met Your Mother?

revertigo I think

 

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People from my country the Philippines also have this southernism what not. People from the South tend to talk slow and sweet even if they mean to hurt you funny is it not. Although not all of them do I am just referring to a few regions in the South. 

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I'm in the United States.  We have Southernisms, but we also have other places where people are teased because of accents and phrases.  Boston, for example.  If you have ever seen The Simpsons, they have a character called Mayor Quimby.  His accent is an example of an exaggerated Bostonian accent.  Also, in California, there are Valley Girls.  The 1995 movie Clueless is full of them. 

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In Poland there are also several dialects (one of them is even supposed to be a separate language!), and also some bigger cities have their own "words" that are particular to that city/region.

The concept of "Southernism" really interests me. I love country songs and those seem to originate exclusively in the Southern part of the US. Some of the words and expressions you hear leave me puzzled. Internet is my best friend when it comes to explaining those. Otherwise, I'd never ever understand what "Dixie" means :)

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On ‎10‎/‎30‎/‎2015‎ ‎5‎:‎56‎:‎28‎, anna3101 said:

In Poland there are also several dialects (one of them is even supposed to be a separate language!), and also some bigger cities have their own "words" that are particular to that city/region.

The concept of "Southernism" really interests me. I love country songs and those seem to originate exclusively in the Southern part of the US. Some of the words and expressions you hear leave me puzzled. Internet is my best friend when it comes to explaining those. Otherwise, I'd never ever understand what "Dixie" means :)

That's because the South has had a separate culture since the Civil War.  Everyone talks about slavery as being the reason for the war, but that's only part of it.  It was the main catalyst, but around that time period, the South was already starting to form a different culture than the rest of the US at the time.

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Different areas of the US similar to many countries incorporate different words into their speaking as well have different accents.  I know a common word for people living in the northeast is "wicked" meaning "very or extremely."   I never heard of this until a few years ago and I had to ask someone what it meant.

I haven't traveled much in the South (unfortunately) so I am not familiar with many of their phrases or words.  

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On 06 December 2015, czarina84 said:

That's because the South has had a separate culture since the Civil War.  Everyone talks about slavery as being the reason for the war, but that's only part of it.  It was the main catalyst, but around that time period, the South was already starting to form a different culture than the rest of the US at the time.

Actually, what I've heard about it is that slavery was not the main reason at all. That's what we were taught in school and that's what is shown in all the films but the real reason, as always, was money - the North was industrialized and the South was rural, and the taxes that the North imposed on imported goods were the actual bone of contention between the two parts of the U.S. I was actually quite surprised when I found out about it because for my whole life I naively thought they were fighting for ideals...

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2 hours ago, anna3101 said:

Actually, what I've heard about it is that slavery was not the main reason at all. That's what we were taught in school and that's what is shown in all the films but the real reason, as always, was money - the North was industrialized and the South was rural, and the taxes that the North imposed on imported goods were the actual bone of contention between the two parts of the U.S. I was actually quite surprised when I found out about it because for my whole life I naively thought they were fighting for ideals...

They were and they weren't.  That's the problem with the Civil War.  It was a messy, bloody, complicated war.  I don't know why so many Americans are so obsessed with it.  Personally, I hate it.  What you grew up learning was true.  It was about money.  It was also about slavery.  It was about autonomy.  It was about so many things.  The catalyst, though was "don't take away our free labor".   

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  • 5 months later...

In Texas you get a lot of southernisms!

Bless his or her heart- a nice way to bless someone after you have been talking about their problems (gossiping about them)

It would be a cold day in hell before I- I will never do that

I ain't cha mama or daddy- don't expect me to coddle you

If it ain't broke don't fix it- if everything is going okay don't try something new as it could cause problems

If there is a train wreck everywhere you go, it ain't the train it's you- if you have problems everywhere you go, you need to check yourself

Check yourself before you wreck yourself- you need to change before you end up in trouble 

These are some of the southernisms my family uses that I didn't see on here, hope y'all enjoy!

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For what is worth, in some European countries the north - south divide is pretty stark, not only in terms of accents, but in culture and even going as far as the way people actually look, I can think of Italy as an example of this, there is a really palpable animosity between people from the North of Italy and people from the South, so much so that you can usually tell them apart, people from the north then to look more Germanic while people from the South are more mediterranean with all the bad (and mostly false) stereotypes associated to this look.

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We also have a sort of South and North here in my country. We have a lot of different dialects here but we all mostly speak Filipino, which is our National Language. People from the southern provinces have a different kind of accent though compared to the people living in the northern provinces. There are also some words which have the same sound and spelling but have different meanings when used in the south.

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I know this is a simple one, but "ya'll" for "you all" is a common one in Texas. 

"Bless your heart" is one I saw mentioned in a previous post, but I have always heard it used as a polite way to basically seem to be empathizing with a person you find has been acting foolishly. 

Single word differences like "coke" to encompass all available sodas versus "pop" from parts of the north I have been to are always interesting as well. 

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