Thursday, January 20, 2005


“Estelle, If Ida knowed youda wanta went, Ida seed youda gotta getta go!” After reading this in a Dave Barry column many years ago (uttered in Tennessee by a man who was willing to take his friend to choir practice), my husband and I use an exaggerated "Estelle" as a shorthand signal to each other whenever we hear a Hoosierism.

There is a line about 50 miles south of where I live in northeast Indiana (roughly through Muncie, IN) where the language idiosyncrancies change from those of a German farmer to a southern Indiana/ Kentucky dialect. We hear both and I’m combining them into “Hoosierisms”, although depending on where you’re from in the state, they might not be familiar.
Disclaimer: I started collecting these a few months ago but haven't posted it because I was distracted by research. Well, I'm not a rhetorician or language expert, so instead of spending the next three years trying to write a scholarly entry, I'm posting this as my impressions (including the line through Muncie which I was surprised to see also on the PBS map.) If you are interested in learning more, go to the links above.
So here’s your foreign language lesson.

If you want to emphasize a verb, say “Take and (insert verb of choice).” Steve had a math teacher that always said, “Let’s take and say..” “Take and get” is another common combination. “Take and get the lawn mowed.” Now I'm gonna take and blog some more.

On accident” is the opposite of on purpose.

After dinner, if someone from a German farming family asks you to “rid up” while she warshes the dishes, don’t worry. She is asking you to scrape, rinse and stack the dishes and wipe down the tables and counters. Sometimes I've heard "red up" which may be a derivative of ready - get ready to wash the dishes. Or perhaps it is to get rid of the mess from the table.

Dark is still used as a measure of time by those who were raised in the country. “I’ll be there after dark.” “When?” “After dark?” “When is that?” “When the sun goes down.” ‘But what time is that?” If it's in our DNA to tell time by the sun, then it's no wonder we aren't on daylight savings time. No matter how you fiddle with the clock, the sun rises and sets as it will.

Not only do we end our sentences with prepositions, but we throw in a few extra for good measure. We “put up” fruits and vegetables, instead of canning or freezing. We "finish up" our work. We are "full up" when we are sated. At is a favorite preposition. Where is that at? What time is it at? Whose house is it at? We also “stay put” instead of just stay. And, of course, fer fer for.

How do you say goodbye on the telephone? Kaybye? Or mmmbye.

If you do not make it yourself, it is store boughten. And that includes pop, not soda or Coke.

Do you have any to add? I had more written on a scrap of paper, but it has disappeared since the great decluttering debacle of 2005.


Anonymous said...

My teacher always told us that "ain't, ain't a word, 'cause it ain't in the dictionary."

But, I ain't no scholar, and y'all know what I'm talkin' about anyway. So, I'll continue ta talk how I choose, thank ya!

Oz, the Terrible said...

I have a couple more Hoosierisms for you:

"Tump": a verb meaning "to simultaneously turn over and dump out"

"My bad": an expression used to claim fault.

Anonymous said...

Here's a gooden.

Attributed to "Doc Monical" of Brooklyn, Ind., circa 1890.

"Well, Mary, I think it's about time we get started to get headen on toward back."

Another attrbuted to "Hank Clayton's mother", circa 1950.

"John, I don't think we ort to do that lessen you think we ort to."

And my favorite, attributed to Logan Nelson of Carthage, Ind., circa 1940.

"It don't make me no never mind."

Anonymous said...

Though I left Central Indiana long ago and have spoken Californian for years now, older folks' Hoosier speech still seems "right" when I hear it.

I recognize now that for some reason we didn't like harsh consonants too much unless they started a word, so we said "pri" for probably, "an" for and (or "anduh" sometimes). If somebody actually pronounced "ing" as anything other than "en" or "in"
at the end of a word, we knew they were from somewhere else. (actually it would have been "somewheres" else!)

A few words I had to retrain myself about:

road now street
crick now creek
coke now specific soft drink name
pop same as above
grosre store now market
sack now bag
sweeper now vacuum
supper now dinner
dinner now lunch
brekfuss now breakfast
come (as in come spring) now in the
rock now sometimes stone
pin now pen (except for sharp kind)
human beans now human beings!

Btw, "Momma's Family" on TV sounded pretty much right on to me, and it amazed me how the actors became "other people" when not in their parts.

Anonymous said...

Recon we art to warsh them oinges in the zink first? Don't wanna get the epizudies!
~ Crisi Chambers (Born a Hoosier and proud of it).