Tahlequah Daily Press

Columns

June 17, 2013

Additional words in the Okie-fide lexicon

TAHLEQUAH — A few weeks ago, I wrote a column on what I call “Okiespeak.” I talked about some of the language peculiar to Okies, how we’re always “commencing” one thing or another, how we like to pair the adjective “plumb” with other words (as in “you’re plumb crazy, you know it?”) and how we refer to the rest of you as “y’all.”

No sooner had that edition of the newspaper hit the racks than I took a chastising from Olga Hoenes, who wanted to know why I didn’t mention the verb “fixin’.” Okies will understand this has little to do with repair work, even though some of us are capable of implementing said repairs. This type of “fixin’” (and the “g” is never necessary for an “ing” word in the lexicon of an Okie) is an indicator of an action to come. And while we may drop the “g” from the end of the word, we often add an “a” as a prefix, to come up with “a-fixin’.”

It could be an much-anticipated financial commitment: “I’m a-fixin’ to buy my daughter a new car.” It could be a life-changing event: “I’m a-fixin’ to get myself married.” (Remember, we Okies always “get ourselves” one thing or another.) Or it could be a threat: “I’m a-fixin’ to whoop your butt.” In which case, you’d better run, because Okies are known for whooping a lot of butt.

And mind you, we “whoop” butt; we don’t “whip” it. “Whipping butt” sounds more like something you’d do with egg whites to make meringue. (That last word, by the way, is pronounced “muh-RANG,” and you put it on top of cream pies.)

But that kind of whipping has nothing to do with butts, or even balling up your fist and slamming it into someone’s jaw – which is what we sometimes mean when we’re talking about “whipping butt.” Come to think of it, jaws aren’t even always involved, or noses, either. Oftentimes, “whooping butt” – Okiespeak for a physical altercation – starts with a loudly issued threat by one person against another. Then the two push around on each other and eventually lock up until bystanders pull them apart before they do any major damage.

Now, there is another verbal use for “whippin’,” not to be confused with “whoopin’.” It involves what happens when a parent wields a paddle or a belt – or sometimes if no other tool is available, a bare hand – against an unruly child. If I had a dime for every time my father uttered the statement “You’re gonna get a whippin’ when we get home” – and delivered on the promise, which he always did – I’d be a wealthy woman. Or, if you prefer, “wunna them rich folks.” Because in Oklahoma, you’re either “rich folks” or “poor folks”; there’s not much in between.

The threat of the kind of whipping administered by a parent to a child (which these days can get you charged with a crime) can be issued in a number of ways by an Okie. Here are a few: “I’m gonna tan your hide”; “I’m gonna bust your behind”; “I’m gonna blister your fanny”; and “I’m gonna take a switch to ya” (the personal favorite of all my grandparents, though I can’t remember any of them ever following through). The latter, of course, was preceded in most homes by the order to “go cut yourself a switch.” Humiliation at its finest for Okie kids.

Although Okies do like to add the letter “a” as a prefix to verbs – “I’m a-gonna tan your hiney,” “I’m a-headin’ down to the store,” “He’s a-gettin’ a little too big for his britches,” or “For cryin’ out loud, I’m a-tryin’ to get some sleep in here!” – we don’t much care for the longer forms of words in general. The roadkill attracting a multitude of buzzards along Highway 10 doesn’t consist of opossums and raccoons, but rather ‘possums and ‘coons. Not to mention the occasional armadillo, which some of us call “ammadillers.”

On the other hand, sometimes we add words we really don’t need – apparently, for effect. It’s not good enough to simply say, “I bought a house.” Instead, we might tell you, “I’ve gone and bought a house” – presumably indicating we did have to “go” somewhere to buy it. If “you’ve gone and made me mad now,” you apparently took at least a brief trip before you committed the offense. We abuse prepositions in the same manner. An Okie doesn’t simply say, “My aunt died last night.” Rather, he’ll inform you, “My aunt up and died last night.” We don’t really need the “up,” unless it’s meant to convey our wish that the deceased head in that general direction in the afterlife. If so, that could explain why we never say someone “down and died.” That wouldn’t be fittin’.

Speaking of things that “wouldn’t be fittin’,” Okies don’t curse. Such activities are reserved for those who don’t mind chancing a violation of the Second Commandment, or for some gal from New Orleans toting a voodoo doll and a box of pins (which we pronounce “pe-uhns,” as I’ve said before). If we swear, it’s more like a promise: “I swear it weren’t me that was a-datin’ your old lady.” But some of us do “cuss,” which is an entirely different thing.

Some of us would rather substitute more genteel words for the hard-edged epithets. We’ll say, “For cryin’ out loud, can’t you do nuthin’ right?” What any of this has to do with uttering a noise from one’s mouth is beyond me. Or we’ll say, “Bring me the dad-gum phone, so I can call your gramma.” I’m not sure how a patronly figure and a sticky-sweet treat became combined into a sort of slur, but I’m sure it must have originated in the Sooner state.

My grandmothers would have “just as soon died” as utter a curse word. (Incidentally, “just as soon” is another phrase we cotton to, much like the phrase “cotton to.”) But these Southern Baptist women had their own ways of expressing themselves.

Grandma Ashlock would roll her eyes and mutter, “Oh, dear John”; I presume she was issuing a plea to the fellow who may or may not have written the fourth gospel. My Grandma Poindexter had an affinity for long-necked water fowl, and thus would say, “I’ll swan!” This may have been her way of getting as close as she morally could stand to “I’ll swear!”

Speaking of swearing, I think I might have heard Teddye Snell mumble a decidedly un-Okie-like word at me, since she’s been waiting for this column to complete page 4A. I think I’ll up and finish it afore I get myself into trouble.

Kim Poindexter is a lifetime Okie, and the managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • A twist on words can get you into trouble

    The misuse or mispronunciation of words can be forgiven in children, but in adults, it’s water-cooler cannon fodder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Keeping the interest of boys is just a matter of ‘gross’

    A couple of my friends complained to me recently that they didn’t know how to “connect” with their teenage sons, and that they are growing apart from the sweet little boys to whom they once read bedtime stories.

    July 14, 2014

  • ‘Different’ situations aren’t so very different, after all

    “Well, that’s different!” It’s the favorite phrase of the hypocrite, when confronted with his glaring flaw.

    July 7, 2014

  • Threats on social media or elsewhere won’t change any minds

    I try not to take political positions on my private Facebook timeline. I used to sometimes, in what I considered a polite way, but that offended friends left and right – literally. And sometimes I watched in horror as a thread degenerated into name-calling between people I respect, but who happen to be polar opposites on the political spectrum.

    June 30, 2014

  • Striking the hyphen, and other journalistic maneuvering

    A couple of years ago, my office phone rang. With no greeting or fanfare, the caller indignantly said, “Did you know they’ve taken the hyphen out of ‘fundraiser’?”

    June 23, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

    Forget everything you've heard about email. All digital trace of a former IRS official's email over the 25 months the agency harassed conservative groups has mysteriously, improbably vanished. Gone, too, is the White House's accountability as President Obama slips from another scandal.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Front-load washers are harbingers of foul-smelling fabric

    May 27, 2014

  • Beetles in the office aren’t up on blocks

    We have more dead beetles here at the Daily Press office than you can shake a can of Raid at.

    May 12, 2014

  • NOLA always worth your time, especially for Jazz Fest

    When it comes to New Orleans, you can have a “glass half-full” or a “glass half-empty” attitude.
    Either you see anniversary celebrants enjoying a romantic dinner at the Court of Two Sisters, or the aging transvestite hawking her wares on Bourbon Street. You hear the joyous sounds of Zydeco music from the band on the corner, or the lewd cursing of the drunken frat boy at Pat O’Brien’s. You smell the enticing aroma of Cajun cuisine in the French Quarter, or the fresh puddle of vomit on the sidewalk.
    I’m a cynic, but I take the “glass half-full” approach to New Orleans. My family loves the city’s character, even with all the blemishes that repel respectable folks, and we especially love the Jazz and Heritage Festival. That’s where we were last weekend. The main action is out at the fairgrounds, with its sweltering temperatures, stick-tight-laden grass, and sea of sweaty bodies packed in around a dozen stages and 60 or so booths selling local food and crafts.

    May 5, 2014

  • Selling of lies in the dreaded car game

    Recently, my husband and I did something that is discussed in the same tone of disdain reserved for Communists, salesmen, politicians, lawyers, and sometimes, journalists. We bought ourselves a “furrin” car.
    We decided on a foreign contraption because my husband now commutes to Tulsa every day, and a quick calculation revealed the horror our three-quarter-ton diesel Chevy would visit upon our bank account. That vehicle gets a comparatively impressive 18 mpg, but doing the math on the current price of diesel and a 150-mile daily round trip is enough to send anyone to the nearest toilet to hurl up the previous meal.

    April 21, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Stocks