Saturday, November 12, 2011

I suwanee!

Depending upon where one lives, one can call it something different:

foul language

Also, depending on where one lives, one can use such words in different contexts.  My parents grew up above the Mason-Dixon line, and therefore, the idea of swearing was not only a common mode of communication, but the use of a swear word was commonly defined by Webster as, "the act of declaring something as true."

"That pie is effing delicious!"  is just something you say.  You're not denouncing the pie, you are declaring it to be truly wonderful.  Ask any Yankee.  They'll understand.

By the time I was in middle school and had moved down south to North Carolina, purely by listening to my aunts/uncles/grandparents/parents speak, I had accumulated a repertoire of curse words that would make any sailor jealous.  For instance, I had no idea that the word "bastard" was considered "foul" until one of my 7th grade classmates informed me that I wasn't supposed to say that word in common conversation. 


Anyway, all it did for me was create a dialogue that was formed in my mind, which was then translated into southern-appropriate speech before I spoke.  Only on very rare occasions did I slip (ahem, calling our 9th grade teacher an asshole.  I still maintain that he was.  Unequivocally.).

At any rate, around here, people occasionally cuss, but they do it like my husband does - in a whisper:

"So as it turns out, that woman was a real bitch."

Or, they fall back on the list of words that can be used to express one's dismay without offending their grandmother:

queer (pronounced "qwar" meaning: strange, odd, freak-like)
hateful (southern for bitch and/or asshole, as in "you are just the hatefullest man.")
sam-hill (southern for hell, as in "what in the sam-hill?")
tarnation (see above)
suwanee (apparently saying "I swear!" is also faux pas.)
blessed (southern for f******, which I find to be a very ironic use of the word.)

And of course, the only time your granny will be alright with a person saying "damn" is if they're referring to a Yankee.

Well, I spent some time pondering this geographical use of cuss words when ARay and I went to a high school football game on Friday night.  The parents/spectators were into this game, and where I was used to having my dad with me at any kind of sporting event (read:  my soccer/basketball games as a kid and/or my brothers' hockey/soccer games growing up) and hearing all kinds of expletives, I was shocked to hear nothing untoward at this particular game.  Everyone was keeping their mouths clean.  It was hilarious, since most of the already listed words were being used in the most oxymoronic ways:


"What in tarnation?!?!  What is this, a football game or a dad-blamed hoedown???"


"Shoot.  I dunno about that there boy-cheerleader.  That seems mighty qwar to me."

See what I mean?  Culture shock will get you whether you're on a different continent or just 45 minutes from the nearest metropolis.


  1. Michelle, thanks for a great laugh, you are a "heck" of a story tellar!