No. 1319



There is an old saying that goes, “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” Several years ago I got to know a fellow speaker by the name of Franklin McGee, who lives down in Anniston, Alabama. He often tells the story about a young lady from their neck of the woods who graduated from college and went to work in the New York office of the French National Airlines. After a short time it became obvious that her accent and use of the King’s English was going to be a major distraction for many of the airline’s patrons.
At this point a conscientious young supervisor took it upon himself to teach her how to develop a more refined manner of speaking. His first task was to teach her how to properly answer the telephone. He taught her to say, “Air France. May I help you?” He even suggested that she put a little more French into the title and say, “ARR.. FRONCE.. May I help you?” This young supervisor thought he was doing a good job, until the next day when the telephone rang and he heard her pick it up and say, “ARR. FRONCE…May I hep ya?”
As I have said before, one of the great joys I have in writing and marketing this column is that I get to talk with people all across the nation. In the past few years I have talked with many different newspaper people in every state in this great country. It’s interesting to hear and detect the different accents, like the Southern drawl down in Georgia, Mississippi and to some degree in the Carolinas. To be sure, the Cajun people in South Louisiana talk differently, as do the people up in Boston and the New England area. You can go from the Ozarks to Texas to the Midwestern states like Kansas and Nebraska and you will find the majority all have a different accent, as well. The same is true when you talk with people out on the West coast in the states of California, Oregon and Washington.
If you have me tuned in, you are probably saying, “it’s not just the accents, but the words, expressions and colloquial sayings are different, too.” I’m sure you know that much of the strength of America comes from our diversity. In fact, the Latin phrase E PLURIBUS ENUM found on the Great Seal of the United States means “from many, one.”
To illustrate what I am saying I thought I might share some Texas-style vocabulary that was sent to me by Dr. Karen Robbins, who lives in Belton, Texas. First, I will give the saying and then, if necessary, explain what it means.
1. AS WELCOME AS A SKUNK AT A PARTY -- No explanation necessary.
2. TIGHTER THAN THE BARK ON A TREE – means not very generous.
3. BIG HAT, NO CATTLE – means all talk and no brains.
4. WE’VE HOWDIED BUT WE AIN’T SHOOK YET – means we have made a brief acquaintance but we have not been formally introduced.
5. HE THINKS THE SUN CAME UP JUST TO HEAR HIM CROW – means he has a pretty high opinion of himself.
6. IT’S SO DRY THE TREES ARE BRIBIN THE DOGS – means we could use a little rain around here.
7. JUST BECAUSE A CHICKEN HAS WINGS DOESN’T MEAN HE CAN FLY – means appearances can be deceptive.
8. THIS AIN’T MY FIRST RODEO -- means that I have been around for a while.
9. THE DOGS KEPT HIM UNDER THE PORCH -- means he is not the most handsome of men.
10. AS FULL OF WIND AS A CORN-EATING HORSE – means that he or she is rather prone to boasting.
Hope you enjoyed these sayings.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)