Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Northernism ... is not a word

Crawfish's last post has finally prompted me to get my ass in gear and contribute to this blog. Since moving below the Mason-Dixon Line in 2005, I've had to get used to many things. Sweltering humidity in the summer, finding a balance between eating all the delicious food without completely choking my heart to death, and even the atrophy my arm muscles suffer from lack of snow shoveling have been a lot to get used to. Communication with the natives has been one of the hardest.

Quick Google Check: "Southernisms" brings up 21,000 search results. "Northernisms" brings up 10,000.  Why the big difference? Northernisms don't exist, they're just what things are called. Moving down south has required me to decipherer another language entirely

Shopping Cart vs. Buggy - If I say "shopping cart", everyone knows what I'm talking about. Before I met my wife, the term "buggy" brought up a ton of images in my head. Let's see ... aristocrats draw by horse through the courtyards of Versailles, a runaway baby carriage, or even Neil Armstrong kickin' up dust on the moon. A shopping cart never entered the equation. Shopping Carts don't even bounce!

Soda vs. Coke - OK, before I get going on this one, as a northerner, I do reject the common northern term, "Pop". In Wisconsin, we say "Soda" and have no clue why all our surrounding states say "Pop". Pop just sounds like a ridiculously outdated term from the '50s, and saying it further emphasizes the dreaded Fargo accent. That said Soda, Pop, and Soft Drink are all vastly superior than Coke. It seems like southerners picked the most generic term, and used it for everything it remotely resembles. If I ask for a Coke, I don't want the waitress to ask me "what kind of coke do you want?". Do I really have to say "Regular" or "Coke Coke"?

All said, the language of the South is just something I've had to learn. I work with clients that continually correct me when I say "You Guys". Sometimes I even catch myself throwing out the occasional "Ya'll". Still, if there ever comes a day when "Fixin' to", "All Ya'll", or "What in tarnation" become a regular part of my vocab, I'm catching the first Greyhound up I-55 north.

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