Saturday, February 14, 2009

Things My Mom Used to Say

It seems the memory of my mom is always alive in my heart. I feel her parenting in the way I parent. I hear her phrases and sayings come out of my own mouth. I daydream about memories of our childhood when she worked so hard to make family moments precious, and I only hope I can make the same memories for Jackson and our future child/children.

Here are the words I can still HEAR coming out of my own mom's mouth. They were unique to her and sometimes when I say them, I smile:

"Naked as a jaybird"
"All the way round robin hood's barn"
"There's more than one way to skin a cat"
"Hell's bells"
"What's that got to do with the price of eggs?"
"Close, but no cigar"
"I'm in the wrong pew - again" (she would say this when she needed to switch lanes at the last minute driving - why the reference to "pews" i'm not sure!)
"Get your shit together" (often used when Justin or I left messes around the house!)

For the family or close friends who knew Mom intimately, can't you just HEAR her saying these things? Some of them seem very Henry County, KY to me, so maybe it's country talk. Because you just don't hear them being used very often, if ever.

While I'm discussing familial and regional dialect, let me also include a couple Minnesota idiosynchrasies I've picked up on. The first was a few months ago when I had my first Rochester, MN dentist appointment. The technician cleaning my teeth was chatting - while I had my whole body anchored on a tilt and my mouth pried open - about the remaining baby tooth still hanging out in there (I know, weird, but I never had any permanent one to replace it, so it was decided it should stay). She said, "It has a nice r---t." I asked her to repeat. "It has a nice r--t." I asked her to repeat. By the fourth repeat, she finally spelled the word. R-O-O-T. But what I want you to imagine is the "oo" sound being more like the "oo" in "foot," as opposed to what I'm used to hearing, the "oo" like in the word "roof." You'd have to hear it to understand, but people here say their "oo"s weird.

They also call water fountains, "bubblers." Well, I'm actually overgeneralizing. I've learned that the Wisconsin transplants are the ones with this little nickname for a machine that delivers a small arch of a water stream to our mouths. Never, ever, have I seen a water fountain produce bubbles - but whatev. When a student asked once to go to the bubbler, I thought there was some secret hot tub in the school kept under wraps! Either that, or a secret torcher chamber. I was confused, to say the least.

Back to "o"s. I am having a hard time thinking of another exmaple besides "occasionally," but the people here make all words starting with an "o" a LONG, DRAWN OUT "o." Say the word "occasionally" out loud, accept say "O" slowly and in a long syllable pronunciation. It sounds so sophisticated, instead of the sloppy, haphazard way I've always known to begin a word like that... with almost an "uh" start. I think this is one way I'm gonna blend in here. I'm gonna make the long o thing my own.

And would you guess noone knows what "whopperjawed" means? Does ANYONE know what "whopperjawed" means? Am I speaking "Tricia" or am I speaking "Kentucky" or am I just NOT speaking "Minnesota?" I grew up believing whopperjawed meant off-cilter or disheveled or crooked. When I told our plumber recently that that's how our plumbing was looking, he looked back at me like I had three heads. Ha.


Lisa said...

If you haven't seen "New in Town" you should. It's as good as the previews. Full of Minnesota accents and humor. Loved it.

Lisa said...

PS. I miss your mom.

Shauna said...

My mom's from Alabama and she says, "Whopperjawed" all the time. I've said it my students and they look at me like I'm nuts. :) Mom also says, "warshed" instead of "washed." Ah, the things our mothers do for us. :) I'm glad your mom is living on in your heart.

rnstivers said...

I grew up saying Whopperjawed getting it from my Mom, my Aunt Vel, my Aunt Burlie and my Aunt Katie. Reta

bb mcclain said...

Your great-grandfather Jones used to say "sweat like a ni**er on election day", "don't take any wooden nickels", and my personal favorite "He (or they, or she) could f*ck up a one car funeral". One time his neighbor, Fanny, was in front of her house, petting her cat. Grandpa said "there's Fanny scratching her pussy."

Lepus said...

Liguistics are hilarious.