(June 2005) Returning to my southern pronunciation theme.
Some mountaineers say “it’n” (see earlier entry) and pronounce “panther” painter. This holdover from Elizabethan English is indicative of just how isolated folks were up in the hollers. They also say “hit” (as in “hit ain’t rained for a month of Sundays”).
Am reminded of these southernisms by a biography that I’m reading, which also reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s observation that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
You don’t say?
I am reading about an unreconstructed southerner who was weaned on stories of the noble Confederates and passed-down Lost Cause mythology. She was born in the twentieth century, but is still angry about the economic and social forces that the Civil War unleashed on her region.
The Civil War and Reconstruction undeniably left the South transformed. And Reconstruction certainly left many white southerners with a sense of defiant entitlement.
But does this explain why so many southerners are polishing the brass pineapples that sit atop their gates while bitching about long-ago sanctioned impressment (the confiscation of private property with the promise of future repayment)?
I wonder, since a good many southerners blame long ago impressment for their current financial woes.
Another thing this book has made me think about is the Grange/Farmer’s Alliance. Growing up, I attended many a family reunion or wedding celebration or other family event in a rural grange building—there are many migrant camp–owning peach farmers and soybean farmers in my extended family—but didn’t know till I read this book that these organizations were created to address practices that favored creditors over debtors, since creditor practices made it all but impossible for farmers to survive.
Can’t help but think that this resembles today’s landscape.
In our new gilded age, big-business Bush and his corporate cronies get richer by the second while exorbitant interest rates and pay-day lenders bleed small-town farmers dry.
Those pay-day lendor places might be all over our country, but I suspect they thrive in the South—not only because it’s a poorer region but also because we have such a stubborn sense of pride and have had independence ingrained into our souls. If economic realities require you to obtain this kind of loan, then you would do so quietly, for the sake of appearance.
And yeah, it does not fail to escape me that Republicans are akin to post-Civil War southern gentry, resenting increased taxes imposed to implement egalitarian policies.
Meanwhile, here’s a personal ad that a friend sent to me:
IM QUIT UNTELL I GET KNOW YOU I DONT TRUST MEN I BEN HURT TO MINE TIME I REALY DONT SPELL VERY WELL BUT I TRY TO I HAVE TREE KIDS 18/16/12YR OLD THE 12 YR OLD LIVES WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO KNOW ME WE CAN TALK AND I CAN ANSER YOU