Magnolia Jane on Southern Phrases

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Hey y’all. I’m Magnolia Jane Clay of the Tuscaloosa County Clay’s, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Phi Mu Alumni Association and 1998 Miss Tallapoosa County. I’m here to help all y’all with some common southern phrases. Bless your hearts, I know it can be confusing. So here’s a sweet tea. Just come on up on the porch and have a seat.

Since I already used it, I guess I‘ll start with Bless your heart. This phrase can be particularly confusing because not all blesses are created equal. For example, I heard just yesterday that Azalea’s cousin’s fiance is in ICU after his Razor fell on top of him when they were out riding after the storm we had last week. Bless his heart. That means I feel for the poor man and hope he recovers. On the other hand, I found out Jacqueline (Pronounced Jack- quell- LINE) was not elected to the board of the PTA after that awful incident with the vegan, gluten free bake sale….bless her heart. I think we all know that was a different version of “bless her heart.” As in, what was she thinking??

Another misunderstood phrase by you Yankees (who I am sure are fine people) is I’m fixing to… This does not mean anything is broken, unless it is, and you are fixing to fix it. This means that you are about to do something or go somewhere. Just like, “I’m fixing to go to the store.” Of course, the word “fix” can mean other things too. Like, “honey, would you fix me a sandwich?” My Gerald says that all the time! Most of the time, though, when we need to fix something, we don’t actually say I’m fixing to fix the furnace. That would be too much. We say, “I’m gonna fix the furnace.”

You may have heard a southerner or two say I reckon. Sounds downright Shakespearean, doesn’t it? Well, you can use this phrase to mean any number of things: I guess, I think, Suppose, even plain and simple agreement. In fact, I reckon it’s just about the most versatile phrase we have down here, except for maybe bless your heart. We can even combine them: “I reckon she’s just not too bright, bless her heart.”

The other day, the day we had that storm, I ended up having to pull up some of my favorite mums, and all the lawn furniture had to be retrieved from the back yard. By the time I finished all of that I was worn slap out. Despite its violent implications, being worn slap out has nothing to do with slapping anyone. It just means really really tired. Sometimes people like to change this one up and say plumb worn out instead. Those who went to that other school system might say wore slap out, which is terrible grammar!

Finally, there’s one you’ve probably hear anytime someone is surprised by some juicy gossip: Well, I declare! It’s not really about declaring the news. It’s about being shocked by the news. For example, we all know that Billy Tuberville’s father is a second cousin of a well known football coach. His family bleeds orange and blue. So when he announced his engagement to Suzanne Hightower, who is married to Nick Saban’s former best friend from college, I guarantee you there were more than a few “Well, I Declare!”’s heard around town.

Before I go, I need to point out that these are all real southern phrases. These are not to be confused with thing’s like “Go to the liberry” or “It don’t matter,” which are just plain bad grammar. Not all of us were raised watching Hee Haw, thank you very much!

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go help my aunt Maylene set up for the Daughter of the American Revolution Annual Silent Auction and Bridge Tournament. She’s too old to climb that stepladder and hang the buntings, bless her heart.

If you liked this southern flavor, read my gossip article about the local heart-blesser!

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Published by wordsfromtheriver

Writer, musician, instructional designer...wife, mom, dog slave...recovering southern belle

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