Southern Sayings

I thought I would explain, and possibly de-mystify, some misconceptions about Southern sayings.

Yes, I say y’all, and I say it often. In the South, y’all can be singular or referring to a small group of people. All y’all is plural and typically refers to a group larger than five. I also say

I reckon, as in: I reckon so, and fixin: I’m fixin’ to start a pot of coffee. And, I will start that pot of coffee drectly, meaning I will get to it directly, as soon as I get back from seeing Mommanem: Mama and them.

I don’t go to juke joints, which are rural bars, often owned by wonderfully vibrant characters who always have a story to make you chuckle. The reason I avoid the juke joints: because my husband would pitch a hissy-fit, or have a conniption, prompting him to say: “Eh! you’d be three sheets to the wind,” or better yet: “Act like you got some raising!” Of course, that would lead to a falling out, or a disagreement, and I would go off half-cocked and say, “Ya don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground,” which is simply a way of saying: “You don’t know what you are talking about.”

I do piddle, but not often. I simply don’t have time to waste messin’ around, doing nothing – but I embrace the idea. I truly want to piddle more: maybe even get punished and sent to my room – but my husband and children won’t let me go to my room. Probably because there is always something tore slap up! Things are never broken in the south, just tore slap up. And Mama’s got to fix ’em.

Piddling makes me think of words like sorry, bad, and trifling. In the south, these words are very closely related, but there is a difference. Sorry is just plain lazy and worthless. Bad is the additional adjective you add to something that is already no good. Trifling, well that is just plain useless. If I were to say: “You’re a trifling, sorry, bad-ugly cuss!” – yeah, it’s not a compliment. Trust me! This is coming from a woman who can start an argument in an empty house!

I am not Cajun or Creole but know where the bayou’s yat, I eat King cake, I appreciate langiappe, and I love the Big Easy, a.k.a. N’awlins. I do live in da Parish, I collect Doubloons, hurricanes make me think of Pat O’Brians instead of stocking up on batteries and water, and I know how to laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll), when I pass a good time with my friends. I don’t own a pirogue and no, I don’t have alligators in my backyard. However, when asked, I have been known to spin a wild and colorful tale about my pet gators.

And finally, bless your heart! I am always tickled reading the online explanations for this southern phrase. For decades, southern women have said, “Bless your heart!” It is truly used to express concern, to show sorrow at hearing troubling news, or to console someone who has given their best effort only to be disappointed with the result. Contrary to the web searches you might find, it never implies insult or malice to the person it is directed to, even if that person isn’t present in the conversation. For instance:

“He worked so hard to get that little girl’s attention, and she treated him like a rotten sack of potatoes!”

“Oh, bless his heart!”

I find it amusing when the phrase is explained as an insult, such as, “screw you” or “you’re stupid” because if you know southerners, particularly southern women, we don’t mince words. If we want to express love and concern for your situation, we say, “bless your heart!”. If we want to express our regret with your lack of intelligence, we say, “Oh, darlin’, you’re just a dumbass!”

I have only touched the tip of the iceberg; there are dozens of these southern colloquialisms that are humorous, sometimes sad, but always entertaining. Don’t think for a moment that southerners who use these expressions are inferior or uneducated. It is simply a language of a colorful and unique heritage that is as intriguing as its people. From my neck of the woods, to yours! I wish you joie de vivre, the joy of living, and merci beaucoup!

  1. Thank you for taking time to visit my site and leave a comment. I’m overdue writing part 2 of this blog but I will get to it eventually. I hope you enjoy the other content here as well.

    Your kind thoughts are most appreciated! Cheers!

  2. Thank you for visiting!

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