By Norma Kirkpatrick
Most of us are aware that some words drop from common usage as other words replace them. At a recent business meeting I attended, the moderator said, “If you are for the motion, say yes. If you are against, say no. The majority has voted yes and the motion has passed.” I remember when we used to say “aye” for the motion, and “nay” against. I don’t know when that change took place, but of course it works just as well.
The choice of our words and the way we pronounce them denotes where we are from and also differences in the regions of the same state. There could be a hint in the choice of vocabulary as to the degree of a person’s education, or lack of it, after hearing a couple of sentences.
This has always been of interest to me, because I have lived all the way from Alabama to California and back, and many places in between. I have always been the person who “sounds funny” to locals in those places, especially since my Southern accent never went away and drew the most comments from listeners.
The irony of that is when as a little girl I moved back south from Pennsylvania after six months in school there. The Southern children laughed at me and said I “sounded funny.” Of course, the children in Pennsylvania had said I “sounded funny” and asked me if people in the south wore shoes to school.
For the past 20 years I have lived back in the southland where language drops like honey from lips that have been taught, even if you are mad, say it nicely. That skill could prevent a lot of fights and wars. It could also cause a person to say “thank you,” before they realize they just lost the argument. Southerners should be put in charge of all negotiations. Perhaps the “ayes” could have a better chance winning unproductive arguments and making positive choices!
That’s just one more of the many things I like about the South.