University of Georgia language experts have reported that regional accents are on the brink of extinction. And of course, it’s not just the accents, but the regions that go with them. A whole world is vanishing.
Another Walmart moves in. Then, Home Depot. And just when things can’t get any worse, here comes Hardee’s.
More ugly signs. Twenty-four-hour service.
Well, if regional accents disappear, what in God’s name will truck-stop waitresses sound like? I can’t bear the thought. What will folks say at Southern funerals?
Take, for instance, my uncle’s funeral. One elderly woman recited a eulogy, saying, “…God beckoned him on to Glory, for the pleasure of his good fraternity.” And it sounded like someone reading Gone With The Wind.
God doesn’t “beckon,” up in Detroit.
Also, the manner in which Southerners cuss. It has charm to it, one you won’t find listening to a Brooklyn cab driver scream the F-word at a prostitute. No. Our words like, “suh-bitch,” can express joy, pain, anger, or surprise. The F-word can’t do that.
But it’s not just accents, it’s euphemisms we invented.
For example: my old boss used to say, “You can’t make chicken salad outta chicken $#!%” Or: “That boy’s ’bout as sharp as a sack of wet leather.”
And my personal favorite: “That dumb child could fall into a bucketful of titties and still crawl out sucking his thumb.”
Cab drivers don’t talk that way.
We also have religious sayings that, when used in context, sound just like Sourghum syrup. You might’ve heard these phrases outside the South, but I believe they originated here.
“Where God guides, God provides.” Or: “God’ll never give you more than you can handle.” And: “Will all our visitors please stand.”
We know who you are.
Then, there’s the billboard outside Macon, Georgia, reading: “Get right, or get left.” The word, “left,” is spelled out in giant devilish flames. You can’t ride past it without reading it aloud.
I hope we don’t lose elderly men who nod and say, “thass-it,” whenever they agree with something. Or the way children say, “yessum,” and, “yessir,” in one polite mumble. And I wish everyone could hear the woman from my uncle’s funeral read her eulogy one more time.
But then, I understand God beckoned her on to Glory, for the pleasure of her fraternity, years ago.
It’s just as well.
They tore down that old funeral home and built an Olive Garden, anyway.