I have lived in the south for more than 20 years, yet I still consider myself a 'northerner'. There are tons of 'transplants' from the north down here in the south. Let's face it, the cost of living is a lot cheaper, your kids can have a backyard to play in, home ownership is a much more likely reality, and wide open spaces are plentiful. My family moved from New Jersey to North Carolina when I was ten years old, my sister was seven. To say we experienced a bit of a culture shock is an understatement.
There were a lot of things for us to get used to. My sister and I were used to being in a cultural melting pot, and were plucked from that environment and thrown into a community where everyone was basically the same i.e.: WASPs. We struggled with being labeled as 'different,' pretty much immediately. I had run-ins with my teachers, because I seemed to already know what they were teaching in class, and couldn't get over poor grammar and lack of patience from the educators (this was specific to the school I was in at the time. I am in no way implying that all teachers down here are like this. I had some pretty fabulous teachers, whom I just loved, and learned so much from!). I was called out and made an example of by teachers, in front of my classmates, because I pronounced certain words differently- something that was difficult to understand and live through at the time, but also something that reminded me where I came from, and prompted me to embrace that.
I basically had to learn a new language, and was introduced to new words and phrases (some of which I find myself using even now). Not everyone in the south uses these words or phrases, but some do.
'Put that up.' Translation- Put that away.
*I made the mistake of raising my pencil case in the air at school, because I totally misunderstood what my teacher meant by 'put that up.'
'Quit it.' Translation- Stop it.
'Right yet.' Translation- Right now.
'Cut it off.' Translation- Turn it off.
'Youngin'.' Translation- Young person or child.
'Wheel.' Translation- 'Will.'
*I was confused for a long time over the fact that someone would name their child 'Wheel.'
'Libary.' Translation- Library.
'Fixin' to...' Translation- Getting ready to...
'Ain't.' Translation- Isn't. I know this is used all over the place and is an actual slang word in the dictionary, but I will never understand or condone its usage.
'Down yonder.'- Translation- Down the road from here.
'I stay at...' Translation- I live at...
'It got gone.' Translation- It disappeared, or I lost it.
'Y'all.' Translation- You all.
'Get a whoopin'. Translation- Be disciplined.
'Doin' like...' Translation- Acting/behaving like...
'Might could.' Translation- Might be able to.
'Git.' Translation- Get a move on.
'Bless your heart.' Translation- I feel sorry for you, You poor thing... this is both an expression of sincerity, and a judgemental dig, rolled into one phrase.
'Tea.' Translation- Sweet tea- tea so sweet it'll rot your teeth out, and nothing else will do.
'Fixin's.' Translation- Side dishes.
'BBQ.' Translation- Pulled pork slathered in BBQ Sauce. In the north, a BBQ is a 'cookout' where you grill hamburgers and hot dogs.
'Carolina style.' Translation- In regards to a hamburger or hot dog, Carolina style means adding chili, coleslaw, onion, and mustard (sometimes also ketchup).
'Beach.' Translation- Down the shore, as we say up north.
'Buggy.' Translation- Shopping cart.
'Damn Yankee.' Translation- Yankees who have migrated to the south. Ahem, yours truly and family.
'Playin' ball. Translation- Baseball.
'Tennis shoes.' Translation- Sneakers.
'Toboggin.' Translation- Ski hat or stocking cap.
'Soda' Translation- Soda pop.
*In the south, we love and embrace Cheerwine & Sun Drop. If you've never experienced these soft drinks, you're missing out!
There are several others that just aren't coming to mind right now. Some of these phrases I have used, but most of these, I steer clear of, because my family just doesn't speak this way. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, and hearing these words and phrases now sometimes make me smile. We moved to the south, because the opportunities for our family where better here- it was a tough decision for my parents to make, as they were leaving their family behind, but they had myself and my sister in their hearts.
All of these years later, there are more things that I like about the south than the things I dislike about it. I actually really enjoy living down here- there's such a spirit of southern hospitality- you can wave to a stranger, and chances are, they'll wave back or smile. I am thankful that my son has a backyard to play in, something we didn't have, growing up in NJ. I love BBQ, Carolina style burgers, love the beach, and there's a little part of me who embraces the idea that wearing sandals or Rainbow Flip-flops year round is completely acceptable, and expected. I love gardening, neighborhood picnics, front porches, and rocking chairs. I will never get used to treating March Madness and the Final Four like its own religion, and I will never be a Braves fan. I'm looking forward to a trip up north to visit my family in August. I miss real bagels, real pizza, and the cultural mish-mosh, but when I'm in another state, Carolina is certainly on my mind, and I can't wait to get home.
What are some of the 'isms' in your neck of the woods? Would love for you to share them in the comments section.