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Countdown to Savannah: Speakin Southern

Written by bugalu

In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.

With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.

Learn to Speak Southern

(Written 12/2/07) We are in a countdown to our GTG in Savannah! The guest list is growing with people from all over the country and Canada, too! I have been concerned though, that you may have a little trouble communicating while in the South. The lingo, admittedly, is a little different.

When I travel to Italy, I carry my English-Italian dictionary. I think it is important to try to speak the language, to immerse myself in the local culture. A few handy phrases, and I feel like I truly belong.

I have decided to do the same for those of you who are making plans for Savannah. With a few quick lessons you can learn to speak ‘Southern’. Try pronouncing these words and phrases: remember slow drawl ... think Paula Dean.

Translate, Please

Greeting ~ Hey Y’all [ha-ay ya-all]

Greeting familiar ~ How’s your momnem? [how’s ur mom-n-em?]

Good bye ~ See Y’all Later (even if you will never see them again)

Please ~ Palease [pa-lese]

Thank you ~ Presheateit [pre-she-ate-it]

Quiet ~ Hushup [ha-sh-up]

Restaurant ~ restrunt [ress-tr-nt]

Would you like? ~ Youwant sum? [u-ont-sum]

More Tea? ~ Mo tea? [moe-teeee]

I’d like a drink ~ Sweet tea please [sweeeeet teee pa-lese]

Soda ~ Co’Cola (no matter what type you want)

Breakfast ~ aigs n grits please [egs en gri-uts pa-lese]

Toast ~ white bread

Snack ~ Just a pinch [jus e pe-ench]

I enjoyed my meal ~ It was fittoeat [it waaas fi-ut too eeet]

How is the weather? ~ Isit muggy? [isit mu-gg-ie]

Soon ~ directly [di-rect-ly]

Leaving ~ fixin to go [fi-x-en to goe]

Aint ~ the sister of your mother or father

Arn ~ an implement for smoothing wrinkles out of clothes

Ahmoana ~ "I am going to . . ."

Bawl ~ what water does at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (a similar pronunciation is used for "awl" which is what you put in your car's engine to make it run smoothly.

Bidness ~ business

Bub ~ a fragile glass object that converts electricity into illumination, as in "laht bub"

Clone ~ A type of scent women put on themselves.

Everhoo ~ Another baffling Southernism - a reverse contraction of whoever. "Everhoo one of you kids wants to go to the movie better clean up their room."

Ka-yun ~ A sealed cylinder containing food.

PEEcans ~ Northerners call them peCONNS for some obscure reason.

Shainteer ~ Indicates the absence of a female. "Is the lady of the house in?" "Nope. Shainteer."

Afar ~ In a state of combustion. "Call the far department. That house is afar."

Braht ~ Dazzling. "Venus is a braht planet."

Cayut ~ A furry animal. "Be sure to put the cayut outside before you go to bed."

Farn ~ Anything that is not domestic. "Ah don't drink no farn liquor, specially Rooshin vodka."

Jack-leg ~ Self taught, especially in reference to automobile mechanics and clergy-men. "He's just a jack-leg preacher, but he sure knows how to put out the hellfire and brimstone."

Parts ~ Buccaneers who sailed under the dreaded skull and crossbones.

Retard ~ No longer employed. "He's retard now."

Dale ~ A brand of computer.

Need Directions?

If renting a car and driving through Georgia, you may need to ask directions:

Over yander ~ there

Bouta mile ~ 1-10 miles away

Nearbouts ~ less than 10 miles

Purtnear ~ less than 10 miles

Ritecheer ~ you’re there

Moanback ~ back up

Fillin station ~ the place to buy gas

Sensuous ~ since you were…

Jawjah ~ you are in Georgia

Lanna ~ Atlanta

Be Careful, Now

Southerners are traditionally very friendly and polite. However, there are a few phrases to be careful of:

Gimme sum suga! ~ may mean give me a kiss.

Be Niace ~ means watch your mouth.

Bless your heart ~ this could be a derogatory comment


All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)

Author: Bugalu was born with a travel bug, raised a military brat. She happily settled in Alabama, and married into the WhistleStop Cafe family, the one in Fried Green Tomatoes. She works as a practitioner and stays busy blogging, cooking, writing cookbooks, and helping with a family business.

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