Apropos of nothing, I recently got an earworm, that piece of music that continuously, uncontrollably runs through your mind. I can’t even remember when I last heard this particular song. Yet — all day, for several days — I’ve had the Backstreet Boys singing “As Long As You Love Me” in my head on repeat. Annoying, right? But worse than that, without their cute faces and stylish dance moves, the lyrics of the chorus strike me as quite problematic, if not ridiculous, in almost every context.
I was born and raised in New York and, until I reached my 40s, I had never lived more than 90 miles from the heart of “the city”, also known as Manhattan. Then, I followed my job to Durham, NC and found myself naively unprepared for the culture shock; language being one of the most immediately obvious differences. Growing up, I had seen episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, so I knew they spoke differently in the south. I just didn’t expect they would still be watching that show and still speaking that way.
Over the (20+) years I’ve lived here, I have come to appreciate many things about this area. The genteel ways have won me over and I now enjoy many of the southern colloquial, linguistic quirks. Mind you, I actually never find myself saying them — all my attempts at “y’all” still come out as “all you guys” — but I like these funny and sometimes corny phrases; they make me smile when I hear them. Here are my favorite “southernisms”, things that would never come out of a New Yorker’s mouth. Continue reading