One of the subjects I have touched on briefly before was the English language and how words and phrases are used differently in different parts of the country. Some things simple and some things complex. Some of the simple ones are things like the use of words such as pack and tote. When I think of pack, I think of going on vacation and packing. I have friends who moved here (Georgia) from Kentucky. We were going to the store one day and taking the kids out to the car she turned to me and pointed to my younger daughter and said “You want me to pack her for you?” Pack her? As in, pack her bags?? Pack her IN a bag? Just what did that MEAN? Turns out, she saw the quizzical look on my face and changed the question… “I mean, do you want me to tote her?” Well, even though I don’t personally use that expression, I knew what she meant. I knew she was asking if I wanted her to carry her down the stairs. I personally use the word tote when I’m speaking of a tote bag, but, I knew what she meant.
I think one of the most confusing places I’ve lived as far as language goes is New Orleans. First off, there’s the problem of adding those superfluous letters when one will do nicely. Mostly when an “O” will suffice and they have to add “eaux”. What’s up with that? I mean, to me, Como is a very satisfactory word, but, is it good enough for them? Apparently NOT! It’s not fancy enough. It has to be transformed into “Comeaux” WTH? Or Bro becomes Breaux…
And what’s up with pronunciation in that place? I mean, simply, BURGUNDY, as I was always taught growing up was pronounced bur-guh n-dee with the emphasis being on BUR, but, once we moved to New Orleans, it was pronounced basically the same except the emphasis was shifted to the GUHN syllable. What’s up with that? WHY?
Of course the HARDEST word for me to learn to pronounce and spell was Tchoupitoulas. It was the name of one of the streets downtown and my brother, who I worked for, had a lot of dealing with a company located down there and I think it took me two weeks to learn to pronounce it and spell it correctly.
One day I had to call one of my brother’s business associates and I THOUGHT that his name was HERBERT. I called and asked for Herbert and was told by the gentleman who answered the phone (how it sounded to me)… “Yeah, this is A Bear.” Now, I’m thinking “Why the heck would your parents name you after an animal?” But what I said was “Nice to meet you over the phone A BEAR, but, I need to speak to Herbert.” Again, he says, “Yeah, this is A Bear.” Now I am starting to get aggravated with this idiot. Again, I say “Nice to meet you A Bear, but, I REALLY need to speak to HERBERT.” The gentlemen replies “No, I don’t think you understand… I’m A Bear…. H E B E R T.” OK… so I felt really stupid for a little while but how the heck was I supposed to know that they didn’t pronounce their H’s half the time? GEEZ,,,, picky picky……
Another time I’m at a Mardi Gras parade with an associate and we’re waiting for the parade to start and we’re on the side of the road waiting for the floats and she turns to me and says “You wanna go over and watch the parade from the neutral ground?” I don’t even know what a neutral ground is! Is it located in Switzerland? Or Austria? I’m not sure what it is. I looked at her and said “I’m sure that will be fine if you can tell me where it is?” She points to the middle area of the road and says, “Right There!” I must have looked REALLY baffled. She said “We’ll what do YOU call that?” I explained that it was the median or median strip and why did they call it a neutral ground” She said “Because it’s neutral. You don’t go either way on that area so it’s neutral. Ok… I’ll give you that.
Then as we’re talking she was telling me about her cleaning her house the day before and said “Yeah, I finally got my lockers cleaned out.” I thought that was just too cool. I said “You have LOCKERS in your HOUSE?” And she goes “Yes, of course, don’t you?” And I say, no, I don’t. She says “Then WHERE do you keep your clothes?” I say “I put my clothes in my chest of drawers or I hang them in my closet!” She goes “Well, there you have it. Me, too!!” I say “But didn’t you JUST say you put them in your LOCKER?” She says “Yes, that is what a locker IS… it’s a closet!” Well…. Why didn’t you just SAY so?
And while you’re at it, can you please learn how to put the pronunciation in the correct spot! Thanks. That would be SO helpful!