Gut Rumbles
 

August 27, 2004

yankees

I rant frequently about yankees. I truly DO believe that they live a different life than we do Down South, because the manners are different, the weather is different and the food is different. But they remain Americans, just like me.(Unless they put sugar on grits. Then, they MUST be dragged off and shot.)

I learned something interesting in Costa Rica when I was taking Spanish lessons from the bartender in the hotel. She had a book filled with American idioms that she couldn't understand. I can remember a few: "Go fly a kite." "That's a rough row to hoe." "Shoot the moon." "Go jump in the lake."

There were plenty of others and I tried to explain them to her, but eyes started glazing after a while. "It doesn't make SENSE!" she protested. I suppose not. I learned that Spanish has its own idioms that don't translate well.

I also told the bartender that she was talking to an American from the deep South and if she went to New York City (where every Costa Rican I talked to seems to be dying to visit) she would hear a totally different language. She gave me a pen and a bar napkin and I drew a rough map of the USA. I divided it into four distinct regions.

#1) The deep South. People there talk the way I do and they tend to have an accent that nobody studying English as a second language will understand.

#2) The midwest. That's where Standard American English comes from. Just look at how many newscasters and radio personalities come from the midwest.

#3) The northeast. Sweet Bejus!!! Pawk the Caw in the Gawage. Cuber (not "Cuba"). I don't consider New York City to be part of the northeast, because a totally different language is spoken there, but I didn't want to make my bartender any more confused than she already was.

#4) Pure yankee. Those are people from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois and all parts around there. You want to tell the difference between a Southerner and a yankee? Just ask them to say, "nice, white rice." You can tell right away where THAT person came from.

I left the far west out of my sermon because I hadn't been there yet. I DID tell the bartender that people from California are easy to spot because they use "you know" and "it was like" all the time because they are inarticulate nut-heads.

Then she told me that Costa Rica has four different accents depending on what part of THAT country you happen to be in. Hell--- Costa Rica is about the size of Georgia--- how can THEY have four distinct accents? It was all Spanish to me.

But then I thought... I know the difference in my home state between the people who live below the fall line and those who live above it. WE DO NOT TALK THE SAME WAY.

If you have an ear for accents, the USA is an incredible place to be. If you like diversity in speech, we've got it. It's like music to me sometimes.

But we Southerners are gonna teach those yankees to talk right someday. The blogfest might be a start.

Comments


These days it is not so much the separation of North & South, as it is: Rural & Urban. Almost every day of my life, I look upon the tomb of Robert E. Lee - but it is a new world now. No longer a simple matter of compass geography. More so a matter of envioroment. The great devide nowadays seems to be: "Did you have mostly Nature as a playground; or was it sidewalks and streets? Was it tall trees; or was it tall buildings that provided shade for your playground?
Simple stuff... but amazing in how it alters basic viewpoints on the spin of life.
Me... I'm just an AT hiking fool. LOL!
be well budd
d. lee (Just Another Redneck Buddhist)

Posted by: D. Lee on August 27, 2004 01:31 PM

Very True! Southerners do speak a different language! When I moved to Georgia my friend (who was raised in Georgia) told me that I was "funny-turned" and when I stopped by for a visit, I didn't "tarry" long enough. ?!

Posted by: amy on August 27, 2004 02:01 PM

There is a HUGE difference between yankees and Southerners sometimes.
My boyfriend is a true Minnesota yankee and after spending time with my family of 5 sisters, brother-in-laws and nieces and nephews, he was truly confused.
He asked me after one family dinner why my sister told the entire family that her husband had pulled his pants down.
I thought about it for a second and then DIED laughing. My sister was complaining because her husband was "showing his ass". My beloved yankee took it literally.
He also had to learn to open doors for ladies, something not done often where he is from, he says.
In the south, he tells me, women just expect you to open the door and will wait until you do. In his former home up north, men just barrel through the door without a thought to the women they just cut off.
It's truly a different world.

Posted by: DeAnna on August 27, 2004 02:14 PM

If you need to spot a Westerner, ask 'em about bad weather where they come from.

If they complain about it, they're from some other part of the country.

If they brag about it, they're from Out West. (And yes, both parts are capitalized.)

Posted by: McGehee on August 27, 2004 02:16 PM

Actually, you'd be surprised just how many newscasters in the US are actually Canadian. Apparently, some journalism school did a study on "the most pleasing accent and cadence of speech." Apparently, the winner turned out to be Southern Ontario (the area surrounding Toronto.)

On the other hand, I dated a woman from Northern California for five years. Hearing the word "roof" pronounced as "ruff" was always a giggle.

Posted by: skippystalin on August 27, 2004 02:43 PM

If I may . . . I find that those blessed to live above the GNAT line have a greater intelligence level . . . though I'll admit that my family in and around Dublin are a comfy, down-home lot....

I just cannot stand the dern GNATS! Reminds me of Tech....no matter how many times you kill them....there is a certain satisfaction in doing it again and again and again...

hahaha...How'd the install go Rob?

Posted by: Chris on August 27, 2004 03:20 PM

You forgot the displaced southern yankee demographic-- those of us who were born and raised in yankeeland, but act, eat, shoot and play like southerners.

I have butter on my goddamn Manhattan grits, and nothing else.

Well, maybe a blast of cinnamon or two.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on August 27, 2004 03:24 PM

To anyone outside of the United States, anyone that lives in the USA is a Yankee.

To someone south of the Mason/Dixon line, anyone north thereof is a Yankee.

To someone north of the Mason/Dixon line, anyone living in New England is a Yankee.

To someone in New England, anyone living in Maine is a Yankee.

And to someone living in Maine, anyone that still uses an outhouse is a Yankee.

So, you see, it's all relative...

(No, I can't for the life of me remember where that's from. But it ain't mine).

Posted by: Jay G on August 27, 2004 03:34 PM

Nice white rice, eh?

I dated a man from Georgia for awhile, and I was constantly getting corrected for pronouncing pecan wrong.

Pe CAN
not
Pe Con

Yes dear.

Posted by: Ames on August 27, 2004 03:48 PM

If you haven't already, you should Google Hans Kurath's "Linguistic Atlas of the United States." You might find interesting correlations between it and your experiences.

Posted by: Fred on August 27, 2004 04:31 PM

... try Scotland some time.. hell, they have a different accent every 20 miles...

Posted by: Eric on August 27, 2004 05:30 PM

Where I grew up, anyplace north of I-10 was considered to be "Yankee". And as Justin Wilson used to say, "Some folks are from way, way up north... up around Shreveport."

Sugar on grits? Get a rope.

Posted by: Brad on August 27, 2004 05:48 PM

As a northerner it's much nicer to run into people who have a nice soft sothern tone.

Living in the city of Minneapolis, all you tend to hear is yo's, what's up's, and hey's. The comment about urban and rural was right on the mark.

I went to Germany many years ago, and if you think there is a divide in dialect here, try going over there. If it's not just as bad, it is definitely much, much worse.

Posted by: Stephen J on August 27, 2004 06:49 PM

Gotta call BS on Illinois folk being yankees. Maybe if you're talking up toward Chicago, but my dad's clan from southern Illinois were just about indistinguishable from my mom's Ozark people. And I'm talking deep-in-the-holler Ozark hillbillies, whose influence can still be heard in my own speech.

Both are solid Midwest to me.

Posted by: Alan S. on August 27, 2004 07:26 PM

I have never eaten grits with sugar. I have never eaten grits without sugar.

/s/ Gritsless in Jersey.

Posted by: Jim on August 27, 2004 08:36 PM

Now that was good -- someone from the south saying that those from the west are inarticulate nuts.

Well, gawwwwly, I ain't never heared (prounounced "hered") such a thang.

I spent some time in the south while serving in the Marines, you know? And I was like, damn, these guys, like, talk funny.

Later, dude.

Posted by: Mannaz on August 27, 2004 09:01 PM

Nice white rice? Hmmmmmm....I don't get it. How is it that it can be pronounced any differently?

Posted by: Kate on August 27, 2004 10:09 PM

I grew up in Nebraska and have lived in Iowa for 25 years. I believe that every state, at least the ones around here, have their own little accent. NOt everyone hears it but I have an ear for such things. I noticed at the age of 9 that my country cousins (I was a city girl from Omaha) said "jawb" while I said "job" and other such minor differences. In southern Iowa, you "feesh"
(fish) and "poosh" (push).

There is a definite distinction between the Swedish Minnesota accent and the German Wisconsin accent and I can hear it in two sentences. Chicawgoans are spotted a foot ball field away by the sound of their nasal vowels. I know that Texans sound much different from Louisianians (first husband was a Cajun whoo hee! now there's some talk like no other, cher.) And of course, we all realize that each deep south state has it's own charming southern accent. And I thought it was PEE cans.

I lived for three years in the UK and much to my amazement it's not just the upper-crust Queen's accent and the lowly Cockney. No, there's a different accent in every county (shire) and sometimes two or three. It took me 6 months to be able to understand the locals and then I went off somewhere 50 miles away and AGAIN couldn't understand their accent. Maddening but charming. After three years I understood it all and had become a complete and total Anglophile.
Lovely people, the Brits.

Posted by: jane m on August 28, 2004 12:58 AM

DeAnna, It is not men that grew too lazy to open a door for a woman; It turns out that a bunch of feminazi types Demanded that we stop that Chauvinistic behavior, and treat wimmen as our equals.

I call bullsh*t!

I make a point of opening a door for any woman in my vicinity, even if it means standing for a bit waiting for the woman to catch up. And physical beauty has nothing to do with it.

I was raised to be a man of refinement, and I will open a door, pull out a chair, carry a grocery bag, or in any way I am able, show respect and grace toward wimmen.

So, there you go, southern fried!

California born I am, and regretful of the fact I have to share my home turf with so many oddballs.

Also, a southern accent on a woman has me in a twist right here and right now!

Posted by: wes jackson on August 28, 2004 04:01 AM

Size of country doesn't seem to matter as far as accent and dialect. At North TX Irish Festival one year was showing knives. One I had patterned after an old Irish design, and I told the lady the name in Gaelic. She corrected my pronunciation. Within the next 2 hours it had been correct four more ways by people who had lived in/been to different areas of Ireland.

Posted by: Mark on August 28, 2004 01:29 PM

I'm from so far north in Illinois you can damn near piss into Wisconsin. I'm pretty much what you're thinking of when you say "Illinois Yankee". Now if you go about 200 miles south into central Illinois (say, around Galesburg) you steadily start to notice people talking more and more like southerners.
I kind of fit in the middle, one of my best friends was born and raised in Missouri and I picked up a bit of his speech.

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