How to Talk Like a Southerner

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The southern United States is one of the most famous and culturally distinctive regions of the country. Stereotypes and misconceptions abound- the American South of today doesn’t look much like “Gone with the Wind,” and thankfully, it doesn’t resemble “Deliverance,” either.  However, it does have a dialect all its own. Here are some of the things you might hear people say if you travel there:

Y’all: Short for “you all.”  Example: “Y’all come back now, you hear?”

Bless your little heart: Depending on the situation, this phrase can either be a heartfelt expression of sympathy or a particularly condescending insult.  Example: “Paula Deen has diabetes. Bless her little heart!” “Bless his little heart, he just can’t help it. You can’t fix stupid!”

Toboggan: Everywhere else (except parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio, a commenter has pointed out), a “toboggan” is a sled. In the southern United States, a sled is a sled and a toboggan is a knit cap worn in cold weather. This word is often abbreviated as “boggan.” Example: “Put on your ‘boggan before you go sledding, or you’re like to catch your death of cold!”

Aim to: Intend to or plan to. Example:  “I am to go into the city this weekend.”

Holler: A small, sheltered valley. Example: “My family lives in the holler.”

You might could:  Maybe you can.  Example: “You might could fix it with duct tape.”

No ‘count: Not worth anything. Example: “She married a no ‘count bastard. He just sits at home and drinks beer all day.”

Ain’t: Is not, are not, am not: Example: “We ain’t going out today. That ain’t gonna happen.”

Like to: Likely to, nearly or almost. Example: “I was so surprised I like to died of shock!”

Cat-head: A large, homemade, irregularly-shaped breakfast roll. The rest of the US calls these “biscuits.” Example: “Mama made a pan of cat-heads and gravy for breakfast.”

Coke: Originally short for “Coca-Cola,” this is used in the American South to refer to any carbonated beverage, regardless of brand or flavor. Example: “What kind of Coke would you like? We have regular coke, Sprite and Dr. Pepper.”

Reckon: Guess or suppose. Example: “I reckon we’ll be by about 10 o’clock.”

Do you know anyone from the American South? Share your favorite regional words and sayings in the comments!