That Down-Home Dialect

Growing up, I never really thought about the weird amalgam of southern accents in my home. My Memaw, my Mom, my Aunt Sammie and I all lived together in the same household for some time: from as early as I can remember (age 3 or 4) up until my Mom got married (the summer after my 6th grade year). Anyway, my Memaw grew up in Florida, as did my Aunt, and my Mom spent her formative youth moving between Florida and southern Ohio. That made for some interesting pronunciations and vocabulary, not to mention the bizarre superstitions that Memaw had learned from Granny (but that’s another post entirely).

For instance, the knives in the silverware drawer that one used either for buttering bread or for screwing the tinfoil to the antenna contacts on the TV were called “case knives.” [I now know that most of the rest of the Western world calls these implements “butter knives.”]

I could have sworn that the piece of furniture in which my socks and underwear lived was called a “chester drawers.”

For years, I didn’t realize that the room in which the TV and couches resided was not, in fact, the “lithing room” (with a TH like THis or THese), and was actually the room in which one lived, or the “living room.”

I was also pretty sure that the outdoor faucet we used to fill up the kiddie pool was a “spicket” instead of a “spigot.”

I’m sure there were countless other bizarre words I heard growing up, but those are the ones that come to mind. Also: the couch was always the couch, never the sofa; we drank pop, not soda; we usually cleaned with a sweeper, rather than a vacuum; and we peed in the commode, not so much the toilet.

Funny, isn’t it, how things that seem perfectly normal when you’re a kid can seem totally fucked up once you grow up and step back.

4 thoughts on That Down-Home Dialect

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  1. i remember i had no idea what a “davenport” was but my great grandma used to say it. (of course i know now)

    i used to think a couch was called a “pit” because that’s what we called our gigantic room-sized sectional couch.

    it was pop in our house but i say soda now, i dont know why o.O

    john says “thader” instead of Theater (he’s from jersey) and i think it’s adorable.

    i have more but i have to run 😛

  2. More odd pronunciations: Mom says “windowsill” like “window-seal,” and “laundrymat” instead of “laundromat,” although that one’s not all that weird.

  3. Hehe. I’ve been reading this and laughing. I think we discussed this back at school one time. I too grew up with a “spicket” and vacuumed with a “sweeper.” We also did our laundy in a “wersher.” BTW, don’t know if I mentioned it before but the origin of “case knife” (which we also had at my house)is actually the manufacturer. There are a major maker of all sorts of knives and I guess they made the butter knives that everyone had back in the day or something.

  4. well, shit! you learn something new every day. so, “case” knives are kind of like kleenex and scotch tape. that’s pretty cool.