For Larry Wallberg:

13 March, 2010

This post is explicitly directed at one Larry Wallberg  (all ya’ll can read it, it just really applies to him).  He has, with malice a-forethought, surrendered his Yankee heritage and absconded, carpetbaggeresque, to the South.  In his honour, here are some rules he will need to live down south:

The North has Bloomingdales, the South has Dollar General. 

The North has coffee houses, the South has Waffle Houses. 

The North has dating services, the South has family reunions. 

The North has switchblade knives; the South has .45’s. 

The North has double last names; the South has double first names. 

The North has Indy car races; the South has stock car races . 

The North has Cream of Wheat, the South has grits. 

The North has green salads, the South has collard greens . 

The North has lobsters, the South has crawfish . 

The North has the rust belt; the South has the Bible Belt . 

Kansas City is not South;  find another team*.


In the South: If you run your car into a ditch, don’t panic. Four men in a four-wheel drive pickup truck with a tow chain will be along shortly. Don’t try to help them, just stay out of their way. This is what they live for. 

Don’t be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store. Do not buy food at this store. 

Remember, ‘Y’all’ is singular, ‘all y’all’ is plural, and ‘all y’all’s’ is plural possessive 

Get used to hearing ‘You ain’t from round here, are ya?’ 

Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later on how to use it. 

Don’t be worried at not understanding what people are saying. They can’t understand you either.

The first Southern statement to creep into a transplanted Northerner’s vocabulary is the adjective ’big’ol,’ truck or ‘big’ol’ boy. Most Northerners begin their Southern-influenced dialect this way.  All of them are in denial about it. 

The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper. 

Be advised that ‘He needed killin…’ is a valid defense here. 

If you hear a Southerner exclaim, ‘Hey, y’all watch this,’ you should stay out of the way.  These are likely to be the last words he’ll ever say. 

If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the smallest accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It doesn’t matter whether you need anything or not. You just have to go there. 

Do not be surprised to find that 10-year olds own their own shotguns, they are proficient marksmen, and their mammas taught them how to aim. 

In the South, we have found that the best way to grow a lush green lawn is to pour gravel on it and call it a driveway. 

AND REMEMBER: If you do settle in the South and bear children, don’t think we will accept them as Southerners. After all, if the cat had kittens in the oven, we ain’t gonna call ‘em biscuits. 

Sent to me by my best friend (also named Bill).

And before some redneck gets all pissed off and bent out of shape, I have lived in the South, the Southwest, the Mid-Atlantic (which is (in some ways (mostly involving smoked and cured meats)) more Southern than much of the South) as well as the Northeast.  These Truths about the South are True.  And those that aren’t are funny.

*That one’s aimed at some one else.  Guess who?



  1. I, a transplanted northerner, recently discovered that bacon gravy is almost as good as sausage gravy when poured over biscuits. I still don’t eat grits, but I loves me some biscuits and gravy.

  2. As long as it ain’t none a that thare red eye gravy — that stuff is jest grease and salt and cahn stahch. It sucks.

  3. Y’all ever experience a little pocket of “south” up north? I live in a place called Christian county, in central Illinois, and from some of the stuff you’ve put on your list i reckon i might be a bit southern…grampa and his guns, but gramma was a better shot (and never threw away good grease), crawfish, family reunions, half the girls in my family have 2 first names…”anna lee” “alicia lynn” “bobbie jo” etc…stock car races and dollar general…yup we’re just a lil bit southern here in big ole’ Christian county!

  4. From infancy to junior-high, I lived in southern states ranging from Arkansas to Louisiana to Florida. The weird thing is that I identify very well with those people. It’s actually kind of bizarre, as I am a relatively well-educated atheist with no discernible accent or grammatical dysfunction. Honest to goodness, my next door neighbors in backwoods Arkansas introduced themselves barefoot, “Ha, I’m Jolene and this is mah sister Jamie Lynn.”

  5. (((Billy(-(?))(((((-)Bob(?)))))):
    Well, this is the first time anybody ever wrote a post specifically for me. I don’t know whether to be flattered or annoyed, y’all.

    By the way, you missed a few:

    The North has seafood restaurants, the South has fishin’ holes.

    The North has liberals, the South has baby-killin’, Jesus-hatin’, homo commies.

    The North has music, the South has country.

    Jest about the on’y thang I kin see puttin’ on them they biscuits is butter (pronounced correctly: buttah). Gravy’s fer meat.

  6. Hey I done lef’ out a bunch a closin’ parenthesissies.

  7. Quixotic: I spent years living in the Cumberland Valley of Maryland which is more southern than much of the south. And I retain my soft southern accent — it slows me down when giving tours and ‘ya’ll’ sounds much better than “youse guise.”

    Desertscope: I haven’t quite figured out why some people embrace the dominant paradigm and others embrace rationality. Must be a character enhancement on the part of some of us.

    Larry: You can be flustered, flattered or annoyed. I just used you as an easy vehicle to use this list on my blog. Nothin’ pers’nal, yal’ll unnerstan’.

    And not to worry about mismatched parentheticals. Even with all my experience (nothing (of course) compared to your decades (centuries?) of experience) I sometimes drop ’em. I figger it done be an occupashunul hazard.

    • I guess I’m flutternoyed.
      And I suspected I was being used as a hook. (But definitely not as a hooker.)

      You’ll notice that I’ve dropped the Southern dialect from my writing here. I figured if I’d better be careful, or I could start sounding like Faulkner. Then you’d be getting comments thousands of words long — and incapable of being understood except by another drunken Mississippian.

      • But definitely not as a hooker.

        I was a hooker once, when I used to play rugby.

      • I’m sorry. I just pictured Harlan Sanders in Fuck-me boots, a leather mini skirt and tube top. Now I need to bleach my brain.

  8. As one whose neck is red, and speaks in the patois of the Virginia Appalachians (dear, dear wife and others wish that I would speak in the same manner and accent with which I write: “Can’t you PLEASE say the word ‘dog’ using one syllable, not THREE”!!?? she has been known to say) I must admit to having seen some subtlety employed by those of the (supposedly) decadent, degenerate south.

    When I was stationed in Alabama back in the 1970’s, a gentleman of the north who sojourned there wrote a Letter to the Editor which appeared in the Dothan Eagle in which he expressed his disappointment with the area and its folk.

    He began by observing that the good burghers and countryfolk about “swang from trees”, those who HAD opposable thumbs, or knew how to make them work, he opined that the gene pool in the area didn’t come up to the ankle, and further observed that there might have been twenty five firing brain cells in the whole of the state, but they were widely seperated and no one knew where they were.

    Then he got insulting…and downright MEAN!

    There were the expected responses to such observations, threats, words of reproof and reproach…but the southerner is a crafty foe, terrible in his retribution…

    This person wrote again, and tendered an apology, he’d had a very trying period in his life at that point…but some of his Constant Readers found out where he worked (a firm in Michigan) and wrote the home office of this displaced mand, along with a clipping of their employees views on his clientelle, and asked why they should do business with this persons firm. Just stating that they didn’t feel, well, SECURE with such an outlook…

    There were letters of apology quickly following.

    As one of the (supposedly) ‘stupid’ locals said, “Don’t punch them on the head, punch them where they’ll REALLY feel it, the wallet”!

  9. larry: My (((Sister))) did her senior paper in high school on Faulkner. Ms. Schindel declared she would never again allow a student to do that. As she wrote the 40-page paper, (((Sister)))’s writing style became more and more Faulkneresque. With no alcohol involved.

    Sarge: I am always very careful to avoid impugning the actual intelligence of any group of people, including dumb-ass rednecks. As with any group, some are brilliant, most are ‘normal’ (whatever the hell that actually means), and some are tree stumps. The question then becomes one of education (not just formal education, but also self-guided education and life-skills education) and a willingness to step outside the dominant paradigm of one’s family and local cultural upbringing.

    One of the smartest men I ever knew was a Mennonite auto mechanic who specialized in VW air-cooleds. In his grimy office were texts on medieval history in multiple languages — French, German, Latin, Polish, Russian, Finnish, Italian, Arabic. If the book he wanted had not been translated (or if the available translation was sub-par) he learned the language. Never knew how to pronounce anything but the German, but he could read multiple languages. Third grade education and militantly a religious conservative. Also freakin’ brilliant.

    Americans tend to conflate ignorance and stupidity. Everyone is ignorant about most things. I, for instance, am still (after 20+ years of marriage) completely and totally ignorant about how the female mind works (and their minds do work, very well, just very differently). Especially in personal relations and local politics (social and familial politics, at that), subtlety is one of those intelligences that cannot be taught and is a brilliance all its own. Your last quote about the wallet is a perfect example.

  10. The North has switchblade knives; the South has .45’s.

    Exactly what decade is this list from? You know how many people get shot in Philly alone?

    And of course I know KC isn’t in the South. How could I be a fan if it was in the South? KC Italian has some quirks, especially their own slangs for different groups, but that’s another issue.

  11. Priceless!

  12. Philly: KC is a very southern city, but not Southern. And I have no idea what decade this is from. The only change was the dig about the used-to-be-professional football team called the Chefs.

    Jeff: Well, it was free.

  13. ‘Y’all’ is singular

    I’ve always wondered in what part of the South this is true. I’ve never heard a Southerner (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia) use it for other than plural.

    I am mocked up here for pronouncing ‘boil’ ‘oil’ and ‘spoil’ as one syllable.

    • Ildie, in Virginia and Alabama it is a generic for “you”, singular and plural both.

      When I go “out and about” it is something loke “Ooht and abooht”, I “pack rather than “carry” things in a “poke” rather than a sack or back, and I do things “atter a whahl” rather than “after a while”…

      One of my favorite songs is “Th’ Whahldwood Flahr”…


      Awh wull twahn and wull ming guhll
      Muh ray-vun black huhr
      With roe zezz so red
      and lill lees so Fuhr…

      And yes, I get teased, here in central Pennsylvania.

      By the way, you might be able to help me out, do you know where I can find military sheet music or recordings of Hungarian military songs from, say 1840 – 1860?

      • Let me add, at a reenactment I was talking to a gentleman from a southern regiment who had come from the same places as me, and we lapsed back into the broadest of accents and patois of our past. (This gentleman was, in fact, a very cultured person, a college professor of English Lit, no less.)
        Turned out we knew a lot of the same people although we’d never met until then.

        Our companions had a very hard time understanding what we were saying (both from the north and south)and one of my group asked one of his what language we were actually speaking. He was told that it was “Virginia Mountain Hick compounded by Career NCO and Viet Nam Veteran” (both of us had this background). The “explainer” mentioned that my “tovaritch” had spent vast sums of money to LOSE this accent and it snuck right back into his mouth…and boy would he be pissed!

        And he WAS, too!

      • Sarge: Your timing is interesting; March 15th is when Hungarians commemorate the (failed) revolution of 1848. I assume you’re looking for something like this?
        Hunyadi induló

        There are a bunch of other military marches (induló) on that youtube page, also. Google the composer Ferenc Erkel – he composed the Hungarian national anthem (which I vote the most depressing anthem in the world).

        I also found a musical listing for an 1848 commemoration:

        Berlioz: Rákóczi induló
        Brahms: Magyar táncok
        Chopin: Fisz-moll polonéz
        Delibes: Coppélia – csárdás
        Erkel Ferenc: Hunyadi László – palotás
        Erkel Ferenc: Bánk bán – Hazám, hazám
        Erkel Ferenc: Ünnepi nyitány
        Hídember – forradalmi zene (soundtrack)
        Kodály Zoltán: Háry János – toborzó
        Liszt Ferenc: Magyar rapszódiák
        Liszt Ferenc: Hungaria 1848
        Strauss: Éljen a magyar!

  14. Ildi: In the Cumberland Valley of Western Maryland (which is where I got my ya’ll from), ya’ll is plural and singular. It may be a localism.

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