Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

December 9, 2013

LYONS: The South keeps America interesting

For all the regional tensions in American politics, have you ever stopped to think what a boring country this would be without the South?

I was moved to this observation by an almost comically obtuse article on a website called businessinsider.com entitled "13 Southern Sayings That the Rest of America Won't Understand." Purporting to explain a list of "the most ridiculous Southern sayings" supposedly bewildering to persons outside the region, it mainly revealed its authors' cultural naivete.

For example, is there a native speaker of English anywhere that doesn't grasp the meaning of "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?" Nor is the phrase, coined by the 18th-century Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, a Southernism at all. Swift had a way of putting things succinctly.

There's also nothing particularly "Southern" about phrases like "useless as tits on a bull" -- used often by my New Jersey father to describe my lack of facility with hand tools.

"Only female dairy cows produce milk," the authors solemnly inform us. "Male cows are called bulls. And even if you could 'milk anything with nipples,' bulls tend to be rather ornery."

You get the feeling they had to look it up.

A city guy, my father inherited his store of agricultural metaphors directly from rural Ireland. Indeed, many colloquial expressions -- "mad as a wet hen," is another -- are more rustic than Southern in origin. The authors of the Business Insider article appear to think nobody outside the South could possibly have any knowledge of barnyard animals.

But then, many people think that. My Arkansas neighbor likes to talk about his amazement at meeting country boys like himself in the Army -- Yankees from Pennsylvania and upstate New York. The expression "rode hard and put up wet" to describe somebody who looks wasted may be a pure Texanism. But the concept is immediately familiar to anybody who knows that horses need to be walked and groomed after hard exercise.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • THEIR VIEW: Careful look at tax structure needed Indiana legislators this year created a "blue-ribbon commission" to study the state's taxes on businesses this summer. We hope the commission will listen to Larry DeBoer, a Purdue professor who might understand Indiana's tax structure better than any

    April 20, 2014

  • KNISELY: Adventures in cat spaying If you're a regular reader of this column, you know I have a cat. I got the cat to deal with the mice. Even if you only pop in on this column from time to time, you still likely know I have mice and that I hate them. I complain about it quite regular

    April 20, 2014

  • PUBLIC FORUM: Letters for Sunday, April 20, 2014 Power forum hopes to answer questions Do you pay electric bills? Then you are invited to learn how Public Power can often lower electric rates. Logansport's coal firing plant must be shut down within two years, and our contract with Duke expires in f

    April 20, 2014

  • GUTWEIN: Strengthening Indiana for Hoosier veterans America's legacy was built on the foundation created by our brave service men and women. Whether they defended our nation's borders overseas or assisted Hoosiers during the harsh winter months, we need to do everything we can to make Indiana the best

    April 20, 2014

  • CEPEDA: Baseball's sacred temple Call it a character defect, but I don't like baseball. And I especially don't like the Chicago Cubs -- losers I never found lovable. I grew up less than a mile west of Wrigley Field and games there represented summer-long inconveniences such as midda

    April 20, 2014

  • HOWEY: Doctors Brown and Bucshon become seekers Seated across the table from me at Cafe Patachou were Drs. Tim Brown and Larry Bucshon. Dr. Bucshon was a heart surgeon from Newburgh. Dr. Brown is an emergency room physician from Crawfordsville. What made this breakfast meeting extraordinary is tha

    April 20, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Littering shows disregard for surroundings Numbers tell a sad story about the disregard many Hoosiers have for their surroundings. Too many in Indiana don't care enough about the environment to prevent them from cluttering the countryside by carelessly tossing litter along the side of roadway

    April 18, 2014

  • WOLFSIE: High-tech got you down? I love where I bank. It's a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and und

    April 18, 2014

  • PETERS: Grizzly bear may help human medicine I've gained 5 pounds since last summer. My body mass index (BMI) is still fine, but I need to stop gaining to keep it that way. Grizzly bears put my weight gain to shame. In the late summer, they eat some 50,000 calories per day and gain more than 1

    April 18, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Lawmakers fail to act on the issue After several years of fretting over Indiana's ongoing methamphetamine problem, the Indiana General Assembly continues to struggle for a solution. The issue seems to come up every session, given that Indiana leader the nation in meth lab seizures. Bu

    April 17, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should mushroom hunters be allowed to forage off-trail in Indiana state parks?

Yes
No
Undecided
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.