In writing I’ve come to learn that there are certain words that just don’t translate. My very first editor was a New Yorker and oh boy was that a learning experience. Sometimes it was like we spoke two different languages. She just did not get my Texisms. I’d like to share a two of my favorite Texisms’s with you.
The first one is “aaaaant”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, It’s a safe bet that you aren’t southern. ”aaaant” is a sound we southerners make at kids, dogs, spouses–well anyone really–when we want them to cease what they are doing, or about to do, immediately. For example: My dog Odin and I are out in the front yard. Odin starts for the street. I yell, “aaaaant!” And he stops dead in his tracks. It works like that every time and in nearly every occasion. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t at lease pause when they hear “aaaant”.
The next one and probably the one I use the most is Ya’ll. It is short for You all. I’ve seen it spelled Y’all and Ya’ll. I’ve used both. Which is correct? I’m not sure. I’ve seen arguments for both. Some say Y’all is correct because it’s a contraction and the ‘ replaces the ou in you. If that is the case what’s up with won’t? Unless, I’m mistaken won’t stands for will not. Sure the ‘ replaces the o in not, but wo? Where did the wo come from? I find it humorous that this is a debate at all because it’s not proper English. Personally, I think it’s about sound. And most people say it with a ya at the beginning. But it really doesn’t matter to me. Ya’ll or y’all it’s the same word and it’s a cool word. So much easier than saying you all. I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t come out of my mouth, I trip over it every time and it still comes out ya’ll rather than you all.
And last but not least…Yonder. I had no clue that yonder was a southernism until a fellow Texan moved to New York and came back to visit. She apparently tried to give directions to someone and they looked at her like she’d sprouted another head and asked her is yonder was a street. Yonder for those that don’t know is over there aways. yonder is usually accompanied with a head tilt, or a motion of the hand or even a pointed finger. It’s over yonder.
What other southern words can you think of?