Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Say What? - Jargon, Slang, and Regionalism, Oh My! Barbara White Daille

Barbara White Daille
Hello, Seekers, and thanks very much for inviting me back for a book birthday bash!  I love celebrating this special day with you because I know we’ll have a fun and informative day.

We’re going to be talking about techniques we can use to create complex characters.  In this case, we’ll be discussing the character’s voice.

This post isn’t about droppin’ letters from words, peppering your manuscripts with akshual phonetic spelling, or tossing in a few foreign phrases to flavor your book—though all those techniques, used sparingly, do work.  Of course, my cowboys use ma’am all the time and often drop their g’s.  Probably due to their influence, even I have been known to throw out a “y’all” or two.   

But we’re digging deeper than those surface dialogue quirks to see how to make our characters’ voices unique…by delving into the characters themselves, using their own backgrounds to help make them come alive for the reader.  This is partly accomplished through their dialogue, but also through introspection and a deep point-of-view narration.

There are many techniques to accomplish this, and here are just three: jargon, slang, and regionalism.  The definitions below are from www.dictionary.com:

Jargon

- the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group.
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- language that is characterized by uncommon or pretentious vocabulary and convoluted syntax and is often vague in meaning.
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If you have ever felt lost in an appointment with a medical specialist or at sea after talking to the salesman in the computer department of your local office supply store, you’ve probably encountered someone using vocabulary specific to his profession.

At parties with my husband and his co-workers, who are all technicians trained to work on specialized equipment, I have sometimes felt I’ve entered a restaurant and gone through a portal to another planet.  The jargon they use is completely comprehensible , but to me it’s an alien language.

In The Texan’s Little Secret, my heroine is a barrel racer.  At one point in a scene, she thinks about the thrill of commanding her mount, honing her skill, adding rate.”  The last phrase is a bit of jargon that means “increasing her speed.”

In a book that will be out next year, The Cowboy’s Little Surprise, one of the characters says, “You could have knocked me over with a sheet of parchment paper…”  This rounds out her character in two ways.  First, she’s a baker, which means she is using jargon specific to her profession.  Second, she is deliberately using a bit of comedic irony, as she’s a very sturdy woman who routinely hauls 50-pound bags of flour through the bakery’s kitchen.

Slang
- very informal usage in vocabulary and idiom that is characteristically more metaphorical, playful, elliptical, vivid, and ephemeral than ordinary language, as Hit the road.

The American Heritage Cultural Dictionary: defines slang as:  Expressions that do not belong to standard written English. For example, “flipping out” is slang for“losing one's temper.” Slang expressions are usually inappropriate in formal speech or writing.
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As we probably all know, certain slang can be tied very strongly to specific age groups.  The definitions can change rapidly and repeatedly—and sometimes even have contradictory meanings.

Idioms are a form of slang.  In any language, they can be especially colorful, which is something to
Barbara at the RWA Literacy Signing in San Antonio, TX
be aware of when we’re completing questionnaires or filling out art sheets for potential overseas markets.  Just think about someone trying to translate “it was raining cats and dogs” or “he was barking up the wrong tree.”  Or worse, not knowing it’s an idiom and translating it literally!

Regionalism

- a speech form, expression, custom, or other feature peculiar to or characteristic of a particular area.

- Literature. the theory or practice of emphasizing the regional characteristics of locale or setting, as by stressing local speech.
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I’m sure we all know some of our own regionalisms—although the funny thing is, if everyone around us uses them, we might not be aware they’re local to our area!

These can be as simple as word choices for everyday objects:  “bag” vs. “sack;” “iced tea” vs. “sweet tea;” the “’L’ train” vs. “the subway.”

In some cases, it’s a matter of variation of one word in a phrase:  “all of a sudden” compared to “all of the sudden.”  (I have to confess, where I’m from, we use the first version, and the second sounds “incorrect” to me.)

Finally, there are well-used expressions that can be linked to certain areas, such as:  “bless his heart,” “frustrating as all get-out,” and—my personal favorite—“hit a lick at a snake.”

I hope this has added a few tools to your writer’s toolbox, and I would love to hear your feedback.  I’m sure we all also would love to hear some of your favorite phrases and expressions!
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Giveaways (two ways to win):

1. Leave a comment here at the blog to be entered to win an autographed copy of The Texan’s Little Secret.

2. Sign up for my newsletter (at my website) and send an e-mail through the Contact form at my website to be entered to win an autographed copy of Rancher at Risk.

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For both drawings:  U.S. and Canada addresses only, please; deadline midnight this Friday.
Thanks!

Barbara White Daille

Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.  Barbara writes romances—usually with cowboys, kids, and a touch of humor.  Her previous title is Rancher at Risk, and she’s excited to share that her current title, The Texan’s Little Secret, has just been released. 

She would love to have you drop by her website:  www.barbarawhitedaille.com


The Texan’s Little Secret can be found at: 
Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Books-a-Million     Harlequin     

 

  

110 comments:

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back, Barbara.

What fun this is, but first...your covers are absolutely amazing wonderful.

Kudos to the cover peeps.

I've lived in quite a few places and some of my favorite from those places are:


Tulsa: Shut the light. Come with.

Germany: Mas nix.

Buffalo, NY: Sneakers, and pop.

Fun, fun, fun.

Marianne Barkman said...

I think you have to be from 'out' to catch those unique voices, because most are so used to their own lingo they don't notice it . Thanks, Barbara!

Mary Curry said...

Hi Barbara,

One that always confuses me is the expression "out of pocket". I grew up knowing that to refer to paying for something yourself or out of our own money. It completely threw me to hear a friend fromTexas use the same phrase to mean she is unavailable. Ex. "I'll be out of pocket for the weekend."

Cindy W. said...

I'm a native Californian, who grew up in Japan, returned to California and was transplanted to Indiana fourteen years ago. California was a melting pot of many cultures and so there was always something said that seemed a little different at times. But since coming to Indiana I've noticed several things stated differently. For one, they use the term "carry-in" for "potluck". For, 'you're kidding' they use, 'shut the front door'.

Have a blessed day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Jackie said...

Hi Barbara,

Welcome to Seekerville today. I'm not published yet, but so far I've set my stories in either KY or NC. Both areas I'm familiar with.

I've lived in KY most of my life, but there's a girl at work that comes up with the funniest phrases. I always write them down and slip them in my pocket.

'Flatter than a flitter' is one of my favorites.

Thanks so much for sharing.

kaybee said...

Hi Barbara,
A fun post. I'm from New England and we wear sneakers and drink soda.
My in-laws are from Maine. Here's a good one from them: "Slower than cold molasses in January."
I'm doing a WIP with an Irish female protagonist, and I'm trying to get beyond all the "Faith and" and "Sure and" in her inner voice. Outer too, I guess.
Kathy Bailey

Mary Curry said...

Jackie, I love that - flatter than a flitter - but what in the world is a flitter?

Mary Hicks said...

Barbara, I agree with Tina, your covers are amazing! And this is a fun post.

I like to collect funny sayings from different parts of the country.

My brother refers to an odd person as being 'crazier than a run-over snake'. If you've never run over a snake on a country road, you won't know what he's talking about. ;-)

kaybee said...

More on my Irishwoman. She's been steeped in the ancient myths and legends (which has to be knocked out of her when she finally surrenders to Christ), and I use that as a metaphor in her internal dialogue. It is working so far.
KB

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Barbara,

Interesting post! Being from just north of the border, there are a few things we say differently than you guys.

The word 'pop' (good to know more northern USers use this term too instead of soda), tea to us is hot tea, sneakers are running shoes and trash is garbage. Just a couple of things I've noticed.

The first time we took our kids to Disney in Florida and we asked what kind of pop they had, we received a blank stare. We had no idea someone wouldn't know what pop was! Funny!

Have a good one!

Sue

Mindy Obenhaus said...

I love this post, Barbara. Thanks for the reminder. Since I write stories set in Colorado and I live in Texas, I have to be careful of those things.

As you were talking about the jargon, all I could think about was when my daughter, who was once in the Navy, would call and start rattling off a bunch of acronyms. I was like a deer in the headlights. I'd always say, "Wrong parent. Hold on." Then pass the phone to my husband who's a retired Navy officer. At least he understood every word. :D

Clari Dees said...

Great post and a lot of fun examples.

My mom was an Arkansas farm girl who got a lot of looks when she moved to Missouri and used phrases like...
"She jumped on him like a chicken on a June bug." or "She's madder than a wet hen."

Susan I grew up in south central Missouri and we used the term Pop for soda, too. Don't know if it was the influence of my Arkansas/Oklahoma-raised parents or not. But since moving to northern Missouri, everybody says Soda or Coke. Then again, Missouri's always been a divided state. Half southern, half northern. :-)

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Barbara! Fun to think about the regional differences in speech.

I'm in Indiana and say pop and tennis shoes. When I heard my mother-in-law say she was going to ret up the table, I was confused. I think some terms were commonly used by those raised on the farm. My inlaws also said they saw a bill in the paper. That meant someone was getting a divorce.

Love your book covers hunky guys!

Janet

DebH said...

this is great. i grew up in Colorado and encountered the "pop" and "soda" terminology mix-up in college (Tulsa). I remember someone saying "Soda is a drink, POP is my dad."

Lingo? Oh boy, do I know lingo. My husband is a retired Boatswain's Mate and a scuba diver, so nautical lingo is a constant. He's got some gems, like:
"going to the rain-locker" - taking a shower
"don't make me drop anchors on you" - asserting his authority
"boom down, Shipmate" - calm down
"too much bottom time on mixed gas" - crazy or not right in the head

there's more i really need to write down to remember. the look my little four year old gives his daddy sometimes when hubby drops a phrase is priceless. even funnier when the little guy repeats it later and it's actually in context.

oh, please put my name in the draw. I love the cover of the book and the blurb's got me hooked.

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, BARBARA!!

And I agree with Tina -- fun, Fun, FUN topic because dialogue is SO crucial to a book in so many ways.

I had a lot of fun with my San Francisco historical series where I had a Texas heiress who not only had a bit of an accent, but utilized a ton of Texas idioms that I had SO much fun making up.

Currently I am writing a contemporary that is much harder due to the fact that I am not up on the current slang of young people today, so I have to check a lot of things with my 26-year-old daughter. :)

And like Tina, I also LOVE your covers -- makes me want to dive right in. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Debby Giusti said...

Barbara,
Great info. Thanks!

The South is always fun: I'm fixin' to go to the store. I'm carrying Mama to the doctor. Hi Precious!

Love your cover! Hunky cowboy, for sure!

Mary Connealy said...

I have to use so much slang in my cowboy books AND I have to be so careful to not let anachronistic language creep in.

Modern language is so easy to use in sarcastic asides. Saying things like 'whatever' and 'no way'. There are so many that are just subtle. I was revising a dialogue scene and the 19th century cowboy said something like, "That's not gonna happen."

Well, that's just WRONG and yet as a collection of works there's nothing really MODERN, it's not like the cowboys were sitting around a campfire eating microwave popcorn, you know.

Still, "That's not gonna happen.....' is wrong.

Great blog post.

Mary Connealy said...

I remember a lady at the local bank one time saying some woman who'd done something just so dumb and the bank lady ... who's a really nice lady, shakes her head and says, "Bless her heart, she doesn't have a brain in her head."

And we started laughing and talking about how you could just say the most horrible things about someone and if you said, "Bless her heart..." first it wasn't suppose to be cruel.

"Bless her heart, she looks like she's been sleeping on her face for forty years."

"Bless her heart, that dress looks like she's wearing a pup tent with a hole cut in the roof for her head."

Mary Connealy said...

Tina, I so agree on the covers. The one with the cowboy and the little girl!!!!!!

I want that book so badly just because of the cover!

The other one is great, too!

Mary Connealy said...

Jackie, I love Flatter than a flitter.
I've never heard that before.

It's so tricky identifying local lingo because we're so USED to it. Coming in from the outside has to help, has to bring fresh ears to the language.

Mary Connealy said...

I know in Nebraska we pronounce creek as crick.

Aunt rhymes with ant.

I pronounce probably pry...not even probly or prolly. It's pry.

gonna, dunnoh,
a bit north of us it's youbetcha, in Nebraska it's 'you bet' instead of you're welcome in response to thank you.
Thanks a lot
Oh, you bet

It's pop instead of soda.

Kav said...

This is so much fun. And of the best parts of reading is getting to 'hear' all those regional or historical sayings. Reading the ones in the responses are fun too.

Let's see, I'm originally from Ireland so some of their words sound the same but mean something totally different. For instance a jumper is actually a pullover sweater. An apple tart is actually a whole pie. Sweet buns are cupcakes. Biscuits are cookies. And my favourite exclamation is: "Don't get your knickers in a twist."

Mary Connealy said...

My mother in law used to always say when she agreed to do something:

Good Lord willin' and the crick don't rise.

Mary Connealy said...

And Marybelle would also say: I can make a meal for ten people in thirty minutes....or is it thirty people in ten minutes?

Chill N said...

Barbara, you wrote a super post and what will stick in my mind? This from your bio: "lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom." I so identify!

Because of where I live, and our strong regional speech, I don't write about other places. I tried putting someone from my state in another state once but a friend who lived there told me I either needed to re-write all the other characters' dialogue or put the story back in my state. Hmm. Wonder what I ever did with that story ...

I like that book cover!

Nancy C

Barbara White Daille said...

Hello, Seekers! I'm so happy to be back to visit!

Thanks for the warm welcome. I think we've got a fun topic on tap, and I'm looking forward to everyone's input.

As I'd mentioned, today we're celebrating a Book Birthday (yay!!!). Also, I'm on deadline for another book that's due...as we type. LOL

I'll be responding to all comments here, naturally, so keep 'em coming! And please bear with me, as I'll be popping in and out between writing sessions to comment in batches.

Here we go!

Myra Johnson said...

Fun post, Barbara! Thanks for joining us today! The challenge in using appropriate career jargon in our books is making sure the meaning is made clear to the reader--and in a natural way that doesn't come across as author intrusion.

And isn't it amazing how the lingo can be so different from region to region? MARY CURRY, I've heard the phrase "out of pocket" for years in reference to being unavailable!

TINA, I never have understood the whole "Come with" thing. I mean, "with" is a preposition that requires an object!

Barbara White Daille said...

Oh, and the first comment I have to make is a big THANK YOU to Mary for coordinating this post.

Also, another thanks to her for the lovely surprise of the photo from the RWA Literacy Signing. It was a great evening.

Mary, it was so nice to see you again!

Barbara White Daille said...

Tina - those are good ones! My husband sometimes says "shut the light" and it used to drive me crazy...until I discovered myself saying it, too. LOL

Thanks for the cover love - yes, the Art team is fantastic, and I've been so very, very lucky.

It was great to finally meet you face-to-face at RWA!

Lyndee H said...

Enjoyed your post, Barbara! Right away all the weird phrases used in my childhood Appalachia-area home came flooding back. It especially reminded me of my Grandmothers,each who had a bucket of sayings and interesting pronunciations to go with those sayings. I'd share here, but frankly, we'd be all day - me writing them and you reading them! I'll just leave you with 'yuns.'

Chill N said...

Just read the comments and am loving all these regionalisms.

The other day I heard an ad for a speech therapy company that helps people lose their accents. I understand the need in certain professions, but how sad that they feel they have to shed part of their identity.

One of my favorite sayings that I grew up with: "Was that smart, or did it hurt?"

And everybody knows it's either Coke or a soft drink. Sheesh.

Nancy

Barbara White Daille said...

Marianne - you're welcome.

And that's very true - since we've grown up hearing so many of these sayings, we may have no idea they're unique to our area.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Barbara. What a fun post!

We've moved around the country a lot, and it's always fun to see what the new regional phrases are going to be.

When we lived in Kansas City, I worked with a guy from Arkansas. His favorite phrase was, "That dog won't hunt."

When we lived in Kentucky, we got used to people adding extra syllables to every word. My husband's name, Floyd, was pronounced "Fa-loy-weed." And at night you went to "bay-yed."

In western South Dakota, where we live now, there's a lot of Norwegian influence. Everyone knows what "Uff da" means. And a garage sale is called a "rummage."

In Texas, every soft drink was called a "coke." As in, "What kind of coke do you want? Dr. Pepper? Pepsi? Diet Coke?" And I'll never forget the soft, loving way mama's call their little ones "dahlin'"

But I grew up in Michigan, where things are properly called "pop," "garage sales," and "sneakers."

Unless you run across one of the old Dutch immigrants (many of them settled in western Michigan around the time of WW2). When one man I knew thought something was too expensive, he'd say, "money out of the pocket jumps." I love that one!

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary Curry - I'm with you! To me, out of pocket always meant paying in cash.

It's just in the past couple of years I've heard it used the second way - and it threw me for a loop! (Now, there's a phrase! ;))

I'm wondering if that new version might be a British expression.

Barbara White Daille said...

Cindy W - you're been all over the map!

I haven't heard "carry-in" used that way before.

But I've got distant memories of "shut the door" - maybe a variation of "shut my mouth" and the more recent "shut up" to mean "no way" - ???

Language is fascinating, isn't it?

Mary Connealy said...

I remember laughing over a Loretta Lynn song that rhymed
Hard with Tired

All the days we worked hard
We slept good at night 'cuz we was TARD

LOL

Barbara White Daille said...

Jackie - it's always a great idea to make notes. I don't know about you, but I find it easy to forget things. ;)

Never heard that example before - good one!

Barbara White Daille said...

Kaybee - I use sneakers, too, and now that I've relocated, not everyone I know gets that. They call them trainers, running shoes, etc.

With dialect, sometimes it's less about identifying phrases and more about the rhythm of the words. IMHO, of course.

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary Curry - re Jackie's comment - I'm assuming it's a "flitterbug" ...which I may have just made up. LOL A butterfly... A moth...

It'll be interesting to find out what Jackie says.

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary Hicks - thank you for sharing that...I think. LOL Now I won't be able to get the image out of my head!

Let's go on to your cover comment so I can envision those instead. ;) Thank a bunch! I've always been thrilled with my covers, and The Texan's Little Secret is just so super-perfect for Luke and the book.

Barbara White Daille said...

Interesting, kaybee. That makes the internal dialogue even more important for that book.

Good luck!

Barbara White Daille said...

Sue - great examples!

I'm in the hot southwest and always have to specify hot tea, since most people around here must drink it cold.

I had to laugh at the pop experience.

When we moved here, my husband went to get a carry-out "pie" and it took him a while to realize no one in the restaurant knew he meant a pizza!

Barbara White Daille said...

Mindy - you're right about being careful, which is hard to do when we don't know what we don't know. ;)

Too funny about the phone call. My dad was Navy, too, and I recall some conversational confusion at times.

Lyndee H said...

MARY, I'd forgotten about Loretta's lyrics until you reminded us here. Very amusing! My dad's mom had such an accent that I can't imagine how I'd spell some of the words so the reader would know how to pronounce them, lol. Tard is one of them, I'd guess. As kids we made up a phrase:

There's a wolf of the roof of the root beer barrel.

Translated into Gram's speech: Thar's a wuf on the ruf of the ruut beer barral.

Ruf rhymed with wuf and ruut was a blend of root and rut and I have no real idea how to spell it to inflect the accent.

Stephsco said...

Great post! I love jargon specific to a story, it makes the experience more immersive.

Laney4 said...

Hi, Barbara!
Here in Southern Ontario, we call turn signals "blinkers" but family in Alberta always refer to them as "turn signals".
I've heard "trainers" and "sneakers" but most around here call them "runners" or "running shoes".
Rarely hear "soda". We have variations of "pop". Never hear them all called "Coke".
Occasionally hear "shut the door" for "shut up/no way".
Had heard that southerners could say anything at all as long as "Bless [his] heart" prefaced such comments. Can't do that here.
Around here you could be "happier than a pig in sh*t".
Most say "gonna" and "hafta" but usually write out "going to" and "have to" (unless texting).
We say "[He} coulda, woulda, shoulda done something."
U.S. pronounces as "foy-er". Canada pronounces as "foy-A".
U.S. says "Zee". Canada says "Zed".
Only time I heard of "out of pocket" was when referring to paying an expense yourself {and getting reimbursed for it by your company later).
Never heard of "carry in". Always say "potluck".

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Barbara and welcome back to Seekerville. Always good to see your sweet face and hear from you.

My family was originally from the south (great grandma's family ) and I guess they passed down Southern idioms. Even though my grandma, mom and myself were raised in the Southwest I'm often asked if I'm from the south. When I ask why they asked they say I use southern expressions. Go figure. So you are right that they can identify a region.

Have fun today.
And I also love your covers.

Tracey Hagwood said...
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Tracey Hagwood said...
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Sandy Smith said...

This is a very interesting topic. Thanks, Mary, for listing the Nebraska slang. I couldn't think of anything to say, other than pop instead of soda. When I travel I usually just say soda since I don't know what locals might call it.

This does bring up the point that we need to be aware of regional differences because if we are writing a book set in another region, we want to be sure we aren't using terms they would never use.

Please enter me into the drawing.

Sandy Smith said...

This is a very interesting topic. Thanks, Mary, for listing the Nebraska slang. I couldn't think of anything to say, other than pop instead of soda. When I travel I usually just say soda since I don't know what locals might call it.

This does bring up the point that we need to be aware of regional differences because if we are writing a book set in another region, we want to be sure we aren't using terms they would never use.

Please enter me into the drawing.

Barbara White Daille said...

Clari - the chicken expression is new to me, but I've heard about the wet hen. Thanks for sharing!

Barbara White Daille said...

Janet - thanks for the warm welcome and the comments on the hunky heroes. Love my cover guys! ;)

I'm smiling at the ret up - I've heard it as red up and finally figured out it meant "get ready" - but it took a while to sink in!

My grandma always talked about making up a mess of green beans (or whatever) and when I was very young, I would wonder why she'd expect us to eat something like that. LOL

Mary Connealy said...

How about 'beef burgers'
There are different names for them all over the country.

Sloppy Joes, loose meat
Anyone have more words for that kind of sandwich

Barbara White Daille said...

Deb - those are some great examples,

And how awesome that your son uses them - in context, no less. What a smart little guy!

Barbara White Daille said...

Hey, Julie - great to be back and to see you and everyone again!

That's the thing with language, it's always evolving. You'd think technical terms would remain constant, but with all the new technology, they also can change at the speed of light. It's hard to keep up!

Thanks for the cover love! I never stop saying how lucky I am with them.

Barbara White Daille said...

Debby G - thanks a bunch!

And I know what you mean about fixin' to - my grandma was always doing that.

Jeanne T said...

I read this early this morning, but now's my chance to comment. How fun to read what people say in different regions of our continent. :)

When my hubby was active duty, we spent 10 months in Alabama. I think my favorite language lesson was this:

"Y'all" is singular, as in one person.
"All y'all" Well, that's plural, as in a group of y'all. Add just the right Alabama twang to it and you, too, can sound "Southern."

My husband, being an Air Force guy, introduced me to the term "Out of Pocket" meaning unavailable. Along with a myriad of acronyms. I guess it's pretty common for even the retired to use TDY (temporary duty yonder) to refer to a business trip.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm late to the party!!!!! Barbara White Daille, it's always a pleasure to have you here!

I got caught up in edits this morning, so I'm making up for it by bringing fresh snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies!!!!

Colleen Laginess said...

I love reading books, especially books about good ole American boys!

I do love the covers to your books.

Colleen Laginess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becke said...

Barbara,

Thanks for the tour down memory lane. For me, those slang sayings came from my dad and he was full of them.

He's a hard dog to keep under the porch is a fun one.

b

Beth said...

Pop vs Soda

Sandy Smith said...

I was going to add that I never know what to call "sneakers." I think that is the most logical term, but I have always said "tennis shoes." But I don't think many people use that term any more.

Missy Tippens said...

Thanks for this informative post, Barbara! And welcome back!

I love to hear regional phrases. Always fun to compare!

Sandy Smith said...

I was going to add that I never know what to call "sneakers." I think that is the most logical term, but I have always said "tennis shoes." But I don't think many people use that term any more.

Sandy Smith said...

I was going to add that I never know what to call "sneakers." I think that is the most logical term, but I have always said "tennis shoes." But I don't think many people use that term any more.

Mary Connealy said...

I have a sister in law born and raised in the south and I remember once her hollering out the door to her two children, "Y'all two get in here."

"Y'all two..."
I thought that was so different but it came out of her mouth as if she'd said it a thousand times.

Walt Mussell said...

I think I've heard "all y'all" referred to as "five or more."

One of the oddest terms I know of comes from my office. Roughly two thirds of my co-workers work completely from home, while others have a schedule of working a few days each week at the office and then the other days at home. Working away from the office is referred to as "remote." So, though it can be used to mean anywhere other than the office, to be "remote" at my employer means to be "home."

Connie Brown said...

I have heard many of your phrases. Was told that Mary's phrase was not about a crick but the Creek Indians rising. I was born and raised in Texas and have only been out of it once. Different areas of Texas also have different phrases. Out of pocket for unavailable has been with me for a long time. I had a mother that insisted on correct diction and speech and I don';t sound so much Texan except when I use Y'all,(mine means singular and plural)and the word thing, think,eye and a couple others. My thang, thank, and ahya are my tells. I usually try to make the correct pronunciation but slip when I'm tired. My one trip north to Pennsylvania to visit my cousins influenced my speech some and I learned about pop. My shoes are sneakers or sometimes tennies. My mother told me some stories about some German heritage people who said that the would throw the cow over the fence some hay. I thought that was funny. I realized as I grew up that was the way the syntax of their language and several others was. I have worked several different types of jobs so I have all kinds of work jargon. I sometimes mix up my phrases so I'm probably confusing to people. It was great to read about other phrases from people.

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Mary C - glad you enjoyed the post.

Thanks for the cover love! I've been head-over-heels in love with Luke and his little girl from the moment I saw them. ;).

Yes, those anachronisms'll get ya! I know authors go to great lengths to keep their books true to the times. I would find it a real challenge to write historicals.

And there are plenty of events that I would not want to have to describe!

Laughing at the "bless her heart" phrase. I think you're right about people using it to negate the rest of the sentence. I've also heard "poor thing" used in a similar way.

As for your "pry" example, I have heard people say that.

I know someone who frequently says "as a matter of fact," and it sounds like "smadafac."

Language is so much fun! ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Kav - I just said the same thing about language being fun!

And sometimes you just can't get the meaning from context.

Love the knickers phrase.

From reading English mysteries, I've picked up on many of the examples you've given. But jumper took me forever. And at first, I couldn't understand why they would have biscuits at teatime! ;)


Some other words are boot for trunk (of the car), flat for apartment, lift for elevator. Spanner for wrench (?). We probably could go on and on.

Thanks for sharing!

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary C - I forgot to add, we say ant for aunt, too.

And for the new comments: I've the crick rising one. (And my dad's side of the family uses crick.)

As for the cooking, I've never heard it but would lean toward 30 people/10 minutes since it sounds like more of a challenge. ;)



Barbara White Daille said...

Nancy C - thanks for the mention of the cover.

And of the bio. That's really the way we feel! LOL

I'd say that's a great compliment from your friend. Authors with voices strong enough for people to identify immediately are often much loved by their readers.

Barbara White Daille said...

Myra - you're very welcome.

I so agree with you on the "come with." It helps if I mentally substitute "come along."

You're right about the jargon. It's important to keep the reader from becoming lost.

It's a challenge to do, isn't it - to weave in the meaning of jargon, or elements of research, or bits of backstory - without hitting the reader over the head.

It makes writing interesting! No pun intended.

Barbara White Daille said...

I'll be back later to pick up again at Lyndee's comment.

If I missed anything in the list before that, feel free to give me a shout.

Barbara White Daille said...

Lyndee - that must have been fun growing up!

I could be wrong but am going to take a stab at it: yuns = you ones = you (plural).

As opposed to young'uns, which is a whole 'nother story. LOL

The pronunciations from different parts of the country can be so interesting--and hard to describe. I say orange with two syllables: ARE-anj. I have friends who say it with one: ORNJ.

You're probably right, we could go on for a while. ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

Nancy - interesting point about the ad.

I've heard the smart/hurt question before, too. Cute play on words.

Barbara White Daille said...

Jan - great selection! One of the benefits of moving around. I've always loved the "dog won't hunt" line.

I'm going to show my ignorance - what does "Uff da" mean? I've heard it plenty of times before but never in context.

Love the Dutch example, too. That's a great way to show character if used sparingly.

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary C - love the Loretta Lynn example with hard/tired.

I was actually going to use one of her examples this afternoon when I said something above giving me a holler.

It took me forever to figure out what "Butcher Holler" meant. LOL

On this note, I am TARD! And logging off for the night. See y'all tomorrow!

Jan Drexler said...

"Uff da" doesn't really have a translation. It's an expression you use to show surprise, disbelief, relief, exhaustion... you name it.

It's definitely an all purpose phrase, and translated by the context. :)

maudemaxine@gmail.co, said...


Hello my friends.Barbara, I really enjoyed this lesson. I am like you. all of the sudden sure sounds weird. Just sounds wrong. A Texas cowboy must have some southern drawl in it tho. Like all ya'll. LOL I hope I can get lucky and win your new book. But looks like a lot of competition. Maxie
> mac262(at)me(dot)com <

LeAnne Bristow said...

I'm a little late to the conversation but boy I loved reading all the comments! I was born and raised in Texas and moved to Arizona, so I often got caught using jargon people were unfamiliar with. A few years ago, my family traveled to Texas for my oldest one's graduation from the Air Force and I found myself educating them on differences. I had to remind them that in Texas all sodas are called coke. If you want Coke, you have to specify Coca-Cola, breakfast burros (burrito for you non Arizonans) are breakfast tacos and chile means meat and beans not peppers. It took me months after moving to AZ to learn to speak correctly, lol!

DiAnn said...

I'm in Texas, and I hear and use lots of expressions - but what is said depends on the area of Texas. We have to know our stuff!

Barbara White Daille said...

Good morning, again, Seekers. I'm back and ready to rock.

Lyndee - << Ruf rhymed with wuf and ruut was a blend of root and rut

We have some of that in parts of my family, too.



Barbara White Daille said...

Stephsco - I agree; jargon definitely helps pull the reader in.

Barbara White Daille said...

Laney - those are good examples.

With a few, my family tends to use both, such as blinkers/turn signals.

Relocation, social media, and the Internet all help to cross-pollinate language.

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Sandra - it's always great to see you here, also, and I'm still having fun on Day Two.

You're perfect to illustrate my example of some of us not knowing what we know. LOL IOW, what we've grown up with is natural to us, and we don't even realize others don't use the same phrases.

Barbara White Daille said...

Sandy S - soda seems like a good all-purpose word.


I think at one time and in some areas, people thought it meant baking soda!

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary C - we call them Sloppy Joes or barbecued beef sandwiches.

What confused me here in the Southwest is that I many menus offering pulled pork. As far as I'm aware (and I could be wrong), that's the same as what we call shredded pork.

Barbara White Daille said...

Oops. That should say "I see many menus..."

Barbara White Daille said...

Jeanne - thanks for the y'all clarification.

I'm glad you spell it y'all. I've seen ya'll and it just doesn't work for me. ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

Ruthy!!! I was wondering where you were! Hope the edits went well.

Good to see you, too, as always.

And I sooo appreciate the goodies! I'm cranking on a deadline and they're exactly what I need to keep me going.

Speaking of which...slipping away now with a few cookies. Will be back after I get some pages in.

See y'all--or all y'all--later!

Barbara White Daille said...

I know I just said I was leaving for a bit, but...

Jeanne - I wanted to clarify. Is "y'all" singular *everywhere* or just in Alabama? ;)

Seriously...I've heard it used as a plural. But that might not always be from true Southerners!

Chris Bailey said...

Thanks for an enjoyable post. I love reading regional usages. On a trip to Scotland, I picked up a local guide book and learned that a number of words and phrases I'd heard all my life are claimed by Scots. Now it's true I'd heard these terms in use by my grandfather, who lived in a rather tight-knit rural Alabama community settled by Scots in the early 1800s. More than 150 years later, the accents had changed, but galluses still was the name given to suspenders, and I had no trouble understanding what a relief it was to get shed of an ornery mule. Thanks to everyone who shared!

Barbara White Daille said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara White Daille said...

Hello again, Seekers! Hope you're having a fabulous Friday. I'm back again (obviously) and ready to roll...

Barbara White Daille said...

Colleen - I'm with you about the heroes, and I especially like good ol' cowboys. ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

Becke - you're very welcome. They do bring back memories, don't they?

In my case, some of the family members were not close by and we only visited during school vacations. The long waits made hearing their phrases and accents - and simply their voices - that much more special. :)

Barbara White Daille said...

Beth - yep. ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

Sandy S - sneakers, tennis shoes, running shoes, deck shoes (?), trainers - and a few others from the comments above.

Barbara White Daille said...

Missy - my pleasure, and thanks for the warm welcome back.

So much of language is fun, isn't it? I'm glad I picked these topics for the post. We're all getting an education. ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary - I'm smiling about the "y'all two." It's a great phrase for characterization!

So is Walt's "all y'all" in the next comment.

Barbara White Daille said...

Walt - as I just said to Mary in the previous comment, "all y'all" is good for characterization. I didn't know about the number, though!

And numbers make me think of the words less and fewer...but that's a topic for another post. ;)

As for your office jargon - a great example of how flexible language can be.

New words and meanings develop so rapidly - just like in the "old days" before sophisticated technology and transportation were available. It's fascinated me ever since I learned that, when people didn't travel, the changes to their language didn't, either. It then made sense to hear such variation even in a single country or area.

Barbara White Daille said...

Connie - Texas is so huge, it's not surprising they have distinct areas. (As mentioned to Walt, just above.)

It's the kind of influences you mentioned on your trip North - when the regionalisms start to blend - that make life interesting!

I've studied a couple of non-English languages, and it's so true that what sounds funny to our ear when translated is perfect syntax in the source language.

I'll bet English syntax confuses many people, and I'm sure most of us have heard English is one of the most difficult language to learn.

This blog post and the discussion here sure seem to provide plenty of reasons for that!

Barbara White Daille said...

Quoting Jan D:

<< "Uff da" doesn't really have a translation. It's an expression you use to show surprise, disbelief, relief, exhaustion... you name it.

It's definitely an all purpose phrase, and translated by the context. :) >>

So...sort of like the "Oh my" in the blog post title?

That'll work for me! ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

Maxie - I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

We do have a lot of chatter going on with this topic, don't we? It's great!

I so agree on the cowboys, especially the ones from Texas. Got to have a little of that "thank ya, ma'am" twang. ;)

Barbara White Daille said...

LeAnne - I moved from the East coast to the Southwest, so I feel your transplant pain. LOL

Cute about the language lessons at the family get-together. I'll bet they were thrilled to learn the inside story.

As for the sodas all being coke, I've heard that too.

One thing I don't think anyone mentioned with the Coke variations is that some people say coke-cola. I don't know if it's a derivative of the original Coca-Cola (spellcheck?) or just the use of coke for everything, but I love the term coke-cola!

Barbara White Daille said...

DiAnn - what you and Maxie said!

There's a reason it's the great state of Texas. ;)

This has been one eye- or maybe ear-opening conversation, for sure.

Barbara White Daille said...

Chris - that must have been fun, going back to where it all started and hearing the "original" versions.

I hadn't known about galluses before am familiar with getting shed. ;)

And I echo your thanks to everyone - we've had a fabulous discussion here!