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
  • WOLFSIE: Giving a word of advice So, what’s the word? Really, what is the word? With over 250,000 words in the English language, you’d think there would be a word for just about everything. Not so. Therefore, I am on a crusade to find a term for some everyday occurrences for which t

    August 1, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Stop spinning wheels and fund highways It is important that Congress act quickly to maintain sufficient funding levels in the Highway Trust Fund to pay for necessary highway projects.Indiana receives more than 40 percent of its total state highway and transit funding from the federal gove

    August 1, 2014

  • PETERS: Have a cup of joe to help your eyes? My day starts with coffee. I’m too cheap to buy it by the cup from baristas, so I just brew my own Folgers by the pot. I have a cup or two as I settle into work each morning, and another cup – sometimes two – in the early afternoon. That may not be w

    August 1, 2014

  • WILLIAMS: America still the dream Is America really in as bad as shape like many people say it is? I’m 67 and when I look around, I don’t see it.Everything isn’t great but believe it or not, there has never been a time when everything was great, not even in those innocent Fifties we

    July 31, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Every town that has any sort of waterway -- whether it be a river or a creek or just a stream -- knows it will be used as a trash can. And oftentimes, tires are a favorite trash to be tossed into the waterways. Many organizations and concerned citize

    July 31, 2014

  • WERNER: The mystery of the Indian grave at Dykeman Last summer I contacted Thelma Conrad, executive director of the Cass County Historical Society, to ask her if she had any information on the Indian grave at Dykeman Park. Thelma had heard of it but had never seen the small marker that tells of the I

    July 31, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Data confirms our obsession with sports Of the five highest paid employees of Indiana University, three are involved with athletics. That was the case in 2013 as well.In new evidence that spending on athletic department salaries is outpacing the rest of the university, if not the vast majo

    July 30, 2014

  • RAMPBELL: Keeping the sick at home Something strange happened here this week: Lots of workers who’ve never done so before got the right to call in sick. And that’s a good thing.The Big Apple, you see, is joining a handful of other trailblazing cities such as Washington, San Francisco

    July 30, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Patacsil was no ordinary Joe Somebody forgot to tell Joe Patacsil that if he wanted to wrestle at a Big Ten university with black and gold as its school colors ... well, most people who know anything about college wrestling today might have said he picked the wrong one -- Purdue

    July 30, 2014

  • MARCUS: The higher education funding mess Public higher education financing is unsustainable as currently configured. This conclusion was reached by two important groups over the past two years. The National Association of State Budget Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Office

    July 29, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Should the U.S. impose a travel ban on three West African nations in response to a growing Ebola virus outbreak?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
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.