Country Grammar

So, in addition to having family from South America, I have family from North Carolina. All over North Carolina. Fayetteville. Red Springs. Shelby. Raleigh. All over the place. Now, for those of you who may not be aware, the name North Carolina is a bit misleading in that it is in no way (ok, one way) northerly. It’s north of South Carolina, but that is about it.

Us folk in the south do things a little differently than folk in the rest of the country. We move slower. We eat collared greens. We like NASCAR. We sit on front porches on Sunday afternoons. We like sugar in our tea. And we like that tea to be ice cold. If you are going to survive in the south, you need to learn most of these things. Not all of them, just most of  them. But there is one thing that is absolutely essential to survival in south. If you don’t get this you will find it virtually impossible to carry on conversation with a large segment of the population here.

Yes, it’s true. We in the south have our own version of the English language. Well, it’s not really a version of the language as much as it is an addition of certain words to the language that, while not actually English, are used more often than proper English.

So without further adieu, here is a short list of these words that I feel are essential “southern-speak”. It is by no means an exhaustive list. (Such a list could very well be impossible to exhaust) If you think of anything that I have forgotten, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

SMART – to hurt – “It sho’ do smart where that dog bit me.”

HESHUP – to become quiet – “Would you tell that baby to heshup!!?!?!”

APIZEN – poison – “You betta stay away! That snakes apizen!!”

CRICK – this one has two meanings: 1) a small stream – “They’ze aplayin’ in the crick” 2) a stiffness – “Jimmy slept wrong and got a crick in his neck.”

AIRISH – breezy or drafty – “boy shut that winder. It’s a might airish.”

AIM – to intend to or plan to – “I don’t aim to eat them collards. We ain’t got no vinegar.”

PARTS – an area or neighborhood – “What’s he doin’ in these parts?”

FUR PIECE – (contrary to what it sounds like…….) – a great distance – “He lives a fur piece from his kin folks.”

A-FIXEN – getting ready to – “We’ze a-fixen to kill that cow.”

PEAKED – pale or sickly looking – “Hmmmmm….he’s looking mighty peaked today.”

POKE – a paper bag – “He put the chicken sandwich in a poke.”

SHED OF – to get ride of – “Boy you gotsta get yo’self shed of that mule.”

and my personal favorite……

ASKEERED OF – to be frightened or scared of – “Jimmy sho’ is askeeredof that snake.”


7 thoughts on “Country Grammar

  1. I have lived in NC for 12 years, in Raleigh for 10. I must say that even I have learned from this list. Amazing. Airish? are you kidding me?!?!

  2. It’s also note-worthy to mention how as southerners, we tend to change people’s names. One syllable names become 2, 2 syllable names become 1, nicknames are added frequently: Ryan = “Rine”, John = John boy, Tim = Tee-um, etc…

    I have been called “Dana Michelle” (by my great grand parents), “Dana Roo” by my father-in-law, “Daner May” by a college friend, anything to change my 2 syllable name into more than what was given to me at birth.

  3. Crank – to start something motorized – “Go out thar and crank the car.” Until I was in college, I thought it was completely normal to “crank the car,” but I was informed by friends, undoubtedly descended from the North, that we haven’t cranked cars since the 1920s.

  4. Yeah, airish was new for me too. And how about this?

    furah kin (accent on the “ah”) – so that I might be able to – “I’m fixin to ride to town furah kin get me some new tars (tires).”

  5. How about
    Ireckon – though “reckon” is an english word no one says it outside the south. Definition: I guess or I think

    Over-yauder – for instance: “where’s your car?”, “Over-yauder” would also come with a gesture that looks like a backward wave and a far away look….lol I love this one!

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