Wednesday, May 2, 2012

the things we say

I love words. It fascinates me to hear unfamiliar expressions ... then I begin to wonder how they came to be. I learned a new one just today and it's an oldie.

Jenny posted a hilarious "I'm a stinker" photo of Ashlyn on Instagram. Jenny's caption: "This girl is full of p & v today." Never having heard this, I asked my wise husband, Bill. "Oh, that's piss and vinegar!" Apparently this was a common expression among grandmas of long ago. Pretty funny!

"I need to rid up this house." I first heard this from Bill. It means to straighten up the house but I think it makes no sense at all.

"Leave the dog out." OK, this is a grammar peeve of mine. I remember as a kid in school, my English teacher warned against mixing up "leave" and "let." I wondered who would confuse them, until I met my husband's family. They do it all the time. The only way to LEAVE the dog out is if she is ALREADY out. Right?

He calls a vacuum cleaner a "sweeper" and he sweeps the floor with it. I use a broom to sweep and vacuum with a vacuum.

Bill's a midwesterner and I have solid southern roots and it shows in our expressions. He'd never heard the expression I grew up hearing as my mother put dinner on the table: "I'm taking it up!" Bill thought maybe we were eating upstairs. It means serving up the food.

"I'll just be in the road." I first heard this from Bill's mom, now 95. It has nothing to do with the road. It means being in the way. If there are too many people in your kitchen, then someone's in the road!

"Yes ma'am, no ma'am. Yes sir, no sir." This is pure southern courtesy. Growing up, I knew these expressions were the expected way to answer anyone older or in authority. Teachers, store clerks, neighbors, grandparents and certainly parents. I could expect a stern look and a "yes, WHAT?" if ever I forgot the "ma'am" or "sir" in answering a question. Even as a young adult, I continued to answer my father this way.

"Bless your heart." Maybe it's not so regional, but I don't hear it as often in the north. My grandmother said it often. And how I miss hearing it from her.

What expressions catch your ear?

6 comments:

Dan said...

LAY down...
;)

LPool said...

My husband grew up saying, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper. Dinner being the meal at noon. I grew up with Breakfast, Lunch and the evening meal being Dinner or Supper. So when we were dating and I'd ask him to come over for dinner he'd ask me if I had time to do dinner because to him it was the midday meal. It was very confusing for a long time. He's always say, "What do you serve midday on Sunday?" and I'd say "I serve lunch". He'd laugh and say, "No, it's Sunday Dinner." For some reason that stuck with me and before I ask him what he wants for Dinner....uh Supper, I think Sunday Dinner and remember to call it Supper. Also not having grown up in the South but now having spent much of my life here I've never gotten use to the term "Soda Water". That refers to any carbonated soft drink. Growing up we called it what it was...Coke, Pepsi, Root Beer whatever. But here in Texas and I'm sure other places as well they call it soda water and then they ask for something specific. I think it halarious cause they are asking for something twice instead of just being specific in the beginning.

Karen Dawkins said...

I love having "yes, sir" "yes, ma'am" kids!!!

-d said...

Fun blog.

In studying and teaching linguistics, we learned that The Old National Rd (US Rt 40), which runs through many states and through Central Ohio, has long been considered the true dividing line (instead of the political Mason-Dixon Line) between the North and the South.

Each side of that highway has been divided culturally since the Civil war. (Some Northerners were known to be Confederate sympathizers.)

It divides language dialects and colloquialisms, food, religion, architecture, and music.

Diana said...

I never left my grandmothers home without a "care package"......whether it was a jar of her homemade jelly ot jars of foods she had canned. Invariably she would say..."here, let met get you a poke for that".....her word for a bag

Diana said...

I never left my grandmothers home without a "care package"......whether it was a jar of her homemade jelly ot jars of foods she had canned. Invariably she would say..."here, let met get you a poke for that".....her word for a bag