3 Feb 2011

kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 real size)
Trying to Write the Southern Accent
I believe the number of Southerners with writeable accents is declining. Writing Southernese is as much about the arrangement of words and word choice as it is the sound. You don't have to underscore a character's southern-ness by dropping g's and throwing in a bunch of Populist apostrophes after n's--as in, I'm fixin' to go ridin' with Billy Bob. If the character hasn't earned it, or you aren't masterful, the phonetic hand-holding tortures readers--the economic use of y'all or original word arrangement (like a double modal) will do in most cases.

Reminds me of the fact that most of the Georgia side of my family would use the expression "losing my religion," which became suddenly very popular due to some no-name Georgia band. *cough* Except that when that song came out, I was living in New England, and it seemed no one had the least clue was the phrase meant; they seemed to take the song as some kind of atheist anthem or something.

The phrase actually means "hopping mad," of a level so great you've started cussing. Possibly a blue streak of cussing, even. Though I can't recall any of my father's family ever actually losing their religion; they were more like to say, "I was near to losing my religion," meaning it was only through supreme force of will that they refrained from saying exactly what was on their mind, with colorful extras.

(It doesn't always mean angry, though. My grandfather often came near to losing his religion anytime he slammed his thumb in the workshop. Extreme pain that makes you want to yell out loud suffices, in other words.)