December 28, 2009
Originally published August 27, 2004
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.
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