It’s nice to return to blogging. It’s already an exercise in tightening up my skills. Writing the title of this article was a challenge. Titles and subtitles and headlines are a challenge for me. It’s like condensing everything you want to say down into just a few words that will grab the reader and inspire them to continue reading. See, I want to talk about colloquialisms today and if I had titled this, “My Top Five Oklahoma Colloquialisms,” you probably would have skipped out on the fun. (Maybe it’s only fun to word nerds, but I think it’s fun.)
Anyway, in the past I’ve been confused by the differences between colloquialisms, jargon, and such. Here’s a great explanation I found where they define the words and give examples of usage and even a little quiz at the end, if you are so inclined. (I know. It’s official. I’m a giant word nerd.)
For now, let’s skip the definitions and get right into the language and you’ll see what I mean.
There may be other segments of the South/or central regions of the United States that say “fixin’ to,” but in Oklahoma, people say that a lot.
“I’m fixin’ to go to the dog swap. Do you need anything? Chickens? Guineas? Goat?”
“She’s fixin’ to call him back as soon as she finds her phone.”
“I’m fixin’ to give you a whoopin’ you’ll never forget.”
See? Now you know what I mean, right?
I think one of the top colloquialisms that Oklahoma is known for is, “Ya’ll.” It is a contraction for “you all” and is normally used when speaking to a group of two or more people, but not always.
“Ya’ll calm down in there, or I’m goin’ to give you that whoopin’ we talked about earlier.”
“Ya’ll need anything? Dr. Pepper? Iced tea? Mountain Dew?”
“Ya’ll look like you’re itchin’ to jump in the water? You hot?” (See what I did there? Threw a handful of colloquialisms at you in two sentences, in each example.)
My personal favorite is “idn’t it.” Mercy. When I catch myself saying “idn’t it,” I cringe. Why do I say that? I don’t know. Because I live here, I guess.
“Idn’t it odd that she suddenly disappeared when the rent was due?”
“Idn’t he a sorry potlicker?” (Sorry–I’ll explain “sorry” and “potlicker” on another word- nerd day.)
“Idn’t she a sight for sore eyes?” (That one, too.)
Obviously, “idn’t it” stands in for “isn’t” and I have no explanation. It’s regional, because I’m not the only one who says it. Thank goodness.
“Howdy” is a good one. You probably already know that it’s used in place of “Hi” or “Hello,” but it’s considered less formal and more friendly. But it can be used in formal settings–just depends on who you are and your personality. (Which is the same with any of the above-mentioned colloquialisms because they have nothing to do with your current status, education, or job title. It’s regional, as I stated previously. It’s probably not a credit to an English major/editor/writer to chat with your co-workers in this manner:
“I’m fixin’ to send out an email inviting ya’ll to the next potluck lunch. Idn’t that a good idea?” Mm hmm.
It has nothing to do with living in the city or country, wearing Prada or Faded Glory, heels or boots, but you’d probably better live in Oklahoma. Or Texas. Or thereabouts. Or people will look at you cross-eyed and walk away. Quickly.
The last one is another personal favorite, just because my dad says it to be funny. “Far,” as in “fire,” and not how far you have to travel to reach the fire. Far.
“He preached hellfar and brimstone again.”
“I tried to light that far, but the wind came sweepin’ down the plain.”
“It’s hotter ‘n far today, idn’t it?”
Yep. (There’s another one for you.)
So, if you travel and a bunch of Okies are having a conversation and you feel like you’re visiting a foreign country, you very well may be. But Okies aren’t the only ones. Here’s another link to a great article that gives you a visual on this very thing. Some of the topics are pretty hilarious, too.
Hope you’ve enjoyed and that you understand what I’m talkin’ about. If not, ask questions in the comment section. And leave a comment listing your favorite colloquialism from your area. That should be fun!