A Southern Dialect Primer

I know, based on the mapthingy widget, that there are lots of people who read this blog who are not from the Deep South. Because of this, I am going to teach y’all a few basic essentials of understanding Suthun.

Y’all. People who don’t speak Suthun but think they do will use this as a singular. “Hey Sue-Ellen, y’all want to come over for a Coke?” This is incorrect. Suthuners know it is only plural, “Hey y’all, wanna come over for some Cokes?” Then there is “all y’all” which encompasses the entire population of the area- the church fellowship hall, for example. “Are all y’all here for the hymn sing?

Us’ns. It’s similar to y’all, only plural for us. “Us’ns are going to Mamernems, y’all coming too?”

Ahmoan. This is a contraction for “I am going to”. “Ahmoan go t’ th’ store for a Coke. Y’all wuntsum?”

Wuntsum. “Do you want some?” and it’s relation “Gitsum” which means “get some.” “Ahmoan go t’ th’ store for a Coke.” “Gitsum peanuts while yer there, ok?”

Mamernem “Hey y’all, we’re gonna go see Mamernem, y’all wanna go?” It’s a contraction for “Mama and them” meaning your mother’s house and any other residents of the house, maybe your father, cousins, uncles, brothers, anyone else unmarried and smart enough to know Mama’s cooking is better than anything they’d get elsewhere.

Borry “Hey Junior- can I borry yer truck, mine’s stuck in a bar ditch.” It mean “borrow”

Now, when someone says “Wanna Coke?” this does not necessarily mean a Co-Cola (Coca Cola). You can answer with “Yeah”, which will get you a Co-Cola, and if they say “what kind” you can correctly answer with “I wanna Orange (or Grape or Dr Pepper or whatever).” Coke means carbonated beverage in a can or bottle.

Southerners tend to talk kind of slow, and add extra syllables to words. This can frustrate non southerners and make them consider us to be dull witted, when the reality is that we are considering all our options and trying to come up with the kindest possible way to express our opinion.

Bless Your (her, his, their)Heart is the iconic Southern Lady’s Phrase. This is a catch-all phrase that can be used to express sympathy, contempt, or amusement (or all 3 at the same time).
“You’re pregnant with triplets? BLESS your HEART!!” (sympathy and amusement and relief that it’s not you)
“Bless her heart, she still thinks she can get into those size 6 jeans after having triplets.” Mild contempt and amusement.
“All 3 of your triplets are sick with the chicken pox? Bless your heart! I’m going to bring you a casserole!” (sympathy)

Any questions? I will explain what I can if you want me to.

*edited to add
It occurred to me I didn’t include pronunciations. So here they are.

Y’all- yall
Us’ns- USS-nnz
Ahmoan- AHH-mone
Wuntsum- WUNT-sum- however, the WUNT is not pronounced with the t- the t is silent but the n is hard, like a grunt
Gitsum- GITsum, you can pronounce the t a little bit, but not hard and crisp. It’s a soft t, if you can imagine such a thing.
Mamernem- MA-mer-nem- mush it all together.
Borry- Boer-REE.
Co-Cola- KOE-Koe-la
Bless your heart- the inflection depends on the purpose. If you’re expressing sympathy, the emphasis is on the BLESS and the HEART. The more sympathy, the more inflection, unless someone has died, then it’s said softly all the way through, with an Oh Honey at the beginning. “Your daddy passed? Oh honey, bless your heart, how can I help?” (“Passed” is the Southern way of saying “died”)
If you’re telling someone thank you for the casserole, it’s Bless Your Heart (occasionally add a honey to the end of it.). If it’s deep appreciation, like the person not only brought you a casserole, but also cleaned your bathroom and pruned your Dr. Van Fleet rose, then it’s “Well! Bless Your Heart, honey, you are the sweetest thing!” This is gender neutral as well, and said to men, women and children.
however, generally it is a phrase said by women. The male equivalent of Bless Your Heart is “Damn, son.” and said only by men, to men.
It is pronounced “DAY-um, sun” and can be augmented with “you’re in a bit of a pickle then, wanna borrow my truck?”


About rootietoot

I do what I can.
This entry was posted in In The Southland, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Southern Dialect Primer

  1. jerseechik says:

    My poor Freshmen have to read The Yearling next month. It was either that, or Kidnapped, and I wanted something that wouldn’t conflict with Foreign Language class.

    Southern, when we nonSoutherners slow down to think about it, is a very comforting thing, IMO.

  2. Bella Rum says:

    I had no idea that Coke could be any carbonated drink. We call them soft drinks. My Yankee relatives call them sodas.

    Very informative post. You should write a book for out-of-town guests.

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