Volume VI, No. 2, Winter 1978

This Speech of Ours

Compiled by Tracy Waterman

Here in the Ozark hills, "Our mountains ain't so high, but our valleys sure are deep." This uniqueness of the land and its people is reflected in our dialect, too. It isn't always what you say that makes the difference so much as how you say it. I'm sure everyone has expressed these sentiments in some way or another, but have you said them quite like this?

Even a blind sow finds an acorn every now and then. (everyone gets lucky sometime)

Fly as high as a light in a cowpile. (put on airs and try to be better than you are)

He has no more chance than a grasshopper in a chicken house.

What crawls under your belly lands on your back. (if you try to hide something, it comes out)

That skinny man's neck was as long as a wet well rope. (stretched out)

I've got so many things going, I can't get any iron hot. (so busy that you can't do anything)

Every tub must stand on its own bottom. (you must be able to stand alone)

She sews with a hot needle and a galloping thread. (sews fast)

He's grinning like a cat eating cockleburs. (a mischievous or embarrassed grin)

You've got the saw by the wrong tree. (telling the story wrong)

He's as green as a gourd.

She's built like a brick outhouse. (has a good figure)

Sometimes instead of a phrase, it is just a word or two that gives a unique flavor to our dialect. One time when we stopped to ask directions on an interview, the old man answered in typical Ozarkian fashion using "there" after directions. "Go up there about a mile til you come to a gravel road. Then go down there a ways." He stood there studying for a minute. Then he scratched his head and said, "I don't think you can get there from here."

Work brittle (willing to work hard)
She's more work brittle than me.

Cutting and slashing (in a hurry)
He was cutting and slashing to catch the train.

Moth-et (eaten by moths)
The skirt was moth-et.

Flat setter (no ambition, was not a provider)
My husband is just a flat setter.

Clear mouth (a tenor hound)
That walker is a clear mouth.

Stink kitty (a skunk)
That dang dog got a hold of another stink kitty!

Get shet of (get rid of)
I have to get shet of these things.

Ho as the singular of hose.
I have a runner in my ho.


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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