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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bring Back Uncle Remus!

"Zippidee Doo-Dah, Zippidey-ay...My oh my, what a wonderful day..."

"You can rip out mah ears, chop off mah tail, but pleeze oh pleeeze don't frow me in dat briar patch!"

Am I the only one in the world who misses Song of the South and the stories of Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer Rabbit?

Several years ago, my oldest son brought home the stories, and I delighted in reliving a childhood love of hearing these stories and doing the dialect. I can 'hear' the Walt Disney characters in my head, and wish my children could too. We once had a neighbor who owned a copy of it, but we've lost touch over the past ten years. Wonder if they'd even release it for a limited time? I think I saw this movie two or three times as a child, and had the read-aloud storybooks and records.

Does this make me a racist? No. This was made at a time in history when African-Americans were perceived a certain way. Do we jump all over Father Knows Best, because the moms were seen as subservient to the fathers? No. And Peter Pan is still on shelves, even though the Indians (Native Americans) are portrayed saying 'Ugh". (Yeah, I take issue with the 'PC Police' sometimes!)

What about writing or reading vernacular language in general? I like it. I have no problem reading Gone With The Wind and reading Mammy and Prissy's words. I'll admit, the first couple of times, it helped to read it out loud, so I could understand it. (I was in junior high.)

And in contemporary works, I don't mind the use of slang; it adds flavor to the writing. If we all used 'The King's English', it would make for pretty boring reading. I find Bronte, Austin, and original Shakespeare hard to follow. But if I'm taking my Northern characters to the deep South, I'd expect more 'honey-chile', 'cute as a bug's ear', and references to pimento-cheese sandwiches or Mint Julips.

And yes, if I read that a character is from Australia, I expect to read 'G'day mate' instead of 'How do you do?' (Does anyone even say that anymore?)

"Mr. Bluebird on my's a fact, it's actual, everything is satisfactual, zippidy do-dah, zippedy-ay, wonderful feeling, wonderful day!"

That being said, I do have a few pet peeves about local slang.
-'Took and...' This one drove me crazy from 1998-2006....okay, every time I speak to a former neighbor this drives me batty! Maybe the word is 'tooken' or 'took in'? She'd say, 'We took and went down to the park....' or 'we took and went to the doctor's today...' Why not just say 'we went?' You didn't 'take' anything out of the ordinary! So why say it?

-'Honest and truly...' My aunt says this. 'Honest and truly Kenzie, I don't know if we'll make it down for the party...' 'Honest and truly, I hope (insert cousin's name) will get this divorce settled soon...' Okay, I get what you're saying, but why do you think I think you're about to lie to me?

-'Warsh' or 'Waish' (wairsh?) This one absolutely drives me insane. And my own SU and his entire family says it! 'Time to warsh the dishes...' 'I warshed clothes yesterday...' For god's sake people! The last time I checked, there was no 'R' in WASH! W-A-S-H! And growing up, my best friend's mom used to say it, with an 'i' inserted. 'Don't forget to waish your face and hands...' 'If you want me to cut your hair, let's wairsh it first...'

-'Fixin' to...' As in, 'I'm fixin' to go to the store today...' You're going to fix what before you go to the store? Grandma, you're 88 years old. I don't think the shuttle bus needs your help. And if your dress needs fixed before you leave the apartment....well, that's another matter.

What sayings make you want to cringe and auto-correct every word you hear?


Melissa Keir said...

I miss the old Briar Rabbit movie too! You're right about things from the past having some uniqueness when we don't try to "PC correct" them. It's wonderful when we don't pigeon hole everyone into one type of person or use one language. I can think of many other movies and television shows that also retain their uniqueness. Some of it comes from the time and some from the culture. Think about the movie musical Hair or West Side Story. They are more compelling because they stay true to what was happening in America during those periods.

I'm sure that I'm known to have my own idiosyncrasies when I talk. I remember a college professor who repeated everything three times, yep, yep, yep. You hear, you hear, you hear. It's when those things are noticed that they irritate much like the tag on the back of a shirt or a speck of dust in the eye. :)

Thanks for sharing!!

Sandy said...

Molly, I loved the Briar Rabbit books and movies, too. It was such an innocent time.

Cute as a bug was the only words, I remember hearing used. In fact, I use them sometimes now. lol

jean hart stewart said...

Don't mind any of those things that both you so much. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies in speech. The thing that really drives me up the wall is people who repeat whole conversations as if what they say is made of gold. Come on guys, move on...

Cara Marsi said...

Would you believe that the first movie I ever saw was Song of the South? I was about 4 or 5 when it came out and I still have an image of my mother carrying me into the theater. That story and movie holds a special place for me.

I don't mind some local dialect in books, but not where it's so much that it makes reading hard.

One thing that we said in my family was "close the light" or "open the light" instead of turn off or turn on. My grandparents were Italian immigrants and I think this is how they interpreted English. My husband's grandparents were from Ukraine and Italy and he grew up saying the same thing. I never thought anything of it until an Irish-American girlfriend told me it was strange. Here in the Philly area we say "wooder" for water.

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