Since Scarlett O’Hara fiddle-dee-deed her way through Gone with the Wind, we southerners have been known for our locutions. To this day, my mother has never bought panties, undies, or even bloomers – she purchases step-ins. And my father was a firm believer in haints. One of his favorite stories was of an old house up the holler where he lived as a boy that was full of haints.
These examples are just words indicative of my southern Appalachian home. It’s when we spout off phrases like “she’s as crazy as a run over dog,” that it really gets interesting.
You can’t write a novel about Appalachia without slipping in a few southernisms. In Mama’s Shoes, nobody could throw one out like the beauty shop owner, Madge Dawson, who declared that the town’s nosiest woman “had a mouth big enough for two sets of teeth.”
With Madge in mind, I’ve compiled a list of southernisms that I can just hear her say.
When you start turning over rocks, you’re going to find snakes.
They were on it like a pack of wild dogs on a three legged cat.
He thinks he’s the cock of the walk.
Don’t piss on my feet and tell me it’s raining!
Mean as a den of copperheads.
The chickens have come home to roost.
Beat the living hell out of me.
So sorry he wouldn’t work in a pie factory.
Useless as tits on a boar hog.
And last but certainly not least, as Madge would say, “The truth ain’t in her, bless her little heart!”
Heart.” Because as a true southerner like Madge would know, it’s okay to say anything as long as you attach “bless her little heart!”