Twists & Turns:
Southern Speak is Uniquely Fun!

Judy Causey Love

Donuts on Cake

I frequently have people say things to me here in the ‘Deep South’ that just crack me up. Often, people from other places find these phrases either confusing, irritating or just offensive. But I love our special language. And everyone here knows exactly what you mean when you say a southernism.

A simple question of “How are you?” may be answered with anything from “Fine as frog’s hair” to “Like a hair in a biscuit.”

Almost every true southerner knows what is meant by the comment, “Now there’s 10 pounds of taters in a 5 pound sack.”

I, myself have been known to point out “He’s so rich, he buys a new car every time his oil needs changing.”

I have a friend who got annoyed at another person bragging on how well they were acquainted with a local celebrity. She marched up to the speaker and said, “Hush up! You really don’t know him from Job’s house cat!”

Oftentimes, people who are ailing get a little dramatic about their condition, and when you inquire as to their heath they might respond with “I’d have to die to get better!” And if they are a hypochondriac and being whiny, you’d tell them to “Get down off that cross, somebody else needs the wood.”

When a friend talks about a good deal they are considering, you might respond with, “Oh, I’d jump on that like a duck on a June bug!”

If you’ve had a rough night or maybe one too many drinks, a concerned friend may remark, “You look like a dog that’s chased one too many cars!” Or if you’ve got cash flow problems, you may say “there’s too much month left at the end of the money.”

Although we all try to be charitable and not gossip, sometimes we can’t help but express a harsh opinion about an unwanted guest saying, “They’d be about as welcome as a skunk at a picnic.”

We all get ‘tuckered out’ after a long day on the job and a bout of the flu can leave us feeling ‘mighty puny.’

We also know that if you’re successful there might also be trouble, so we say, “If you’ve got honey, you’re gonna have flies.”

In good parenting, we also know that if you want your child to grow up ‘right’, “you’ve got to walk that road yourself.”

I clearly remember my daddy, over 50 years ago, describing an unattractive woman as being as “ugly as the north end of a southbound mule.”

During the current primary election in Alabama, even our Governor, the honorable Kay Ivey, was known to get in a southernism or 2 while campaigning for reelection. She said that handling the problems of an entire state was “Never too high for a high stepper!” And we all absolutely loved and totally understood her remark about President Biden saying, “Poor Joe… Bless his heart.”

I once heard an old southern preacher say with a drawl, “I didn’t mind him sleepin’ in church but it got to be too much when he started sawing logs.”

If you say you want to be alone, a friend may remark, “That’s a good place to visit but a poor place to stay.”

You know you’re in trouble when someone curses you by saying, “May you back into a pitchfork and grab onto a hot grill for support!”

In discussing the current high cost of everything, a man recently said, “Ain’t it funny how big a dollar looks in the church plate, but how small it is at the grocery store?”

Let me say to the women: Be careful about telling your husband you think you are getting fat, wrinkled and old, because he might just respond with “Well, honey, it’s not all bad, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight!”

So, if you’re living in the south you’ll have had a laugh. If you’re from ‘off’, just act like you understand our language and laugh along with the rest of us. “Life’s too short to blame the cow when the milk goes sour!”

Donuts on Cake