I Can’t Understand a Word You Say

September 4, 2012


Contrary to what Hollywood erroneously promotes, there isn’t one true authentic Southern accent spread evenly throughout Dixie. We don’t all sound alike. There’s Hee Haw, and then there’s Gone With The Wind.
Two Alabamians can be in the room, and if you know your “y’alls” from your “drawls” you can immediately distinguish who resides in Florence and who hails from Mobile. Georgians can be differentiated by the lilt of the mountain dwellers or the creative enunciation of the coastal natives just as Tennessee folks vary east to west.
But absolutely everyone has to agree that the Southern state with the largest chasm between regions is Florida.
North Florida is South. South Florida is North.
I’m sure you don’t need any further explanation, and by the way, I’m not condemning, just stating the facts, ma’am.florida-division north vs. south
I now present to you a very true and personal example of the great language barrier of those from “The South” and those from “South Florida”
When I was a college student in Tallahassee, a girl from Miami decided to hold a fundraiser for a cause I can’t even remember.  With great detail, she informed me of her plans to set up a table in front of the dorm that Saturday, and sell Beagles. 
I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why she thought that was a good idea.  We weren’t allowed to have dogs in the dorm, and Beagles are a handful to care for, especially when you are busy going to classes. Where would she put all these dogs?  
Beagle vs. Bagel. It's a Southern thing, y'all. - Leslie Anne Tarabella blog.
Arff – Arff -Arff!!! Throw me a biscuit!
All these thoughts were running through my head while her lips kept moving and she chattered away about how she was going to get some cream cheese and lox to go on the Beagles.
Bagel? Try a biscuit instead. - Leslie Anne Tarabella blog.
What? Oh, BAGELS!  She was talking about round, thick, chewy bread!  And to me, “bagel” is what I’ve always called a cute little brown and tan hound dog. You know, Snoopy is a Beagle? (bay-gull)??? That’s just how all my relatives in North Florida and Alabama pronounced the name of the hound.
And honestly, at that time, you couldn’t even buy bagels at the Jitney Jungle back home, so it really wasn’t on my radar as something you would even need.  My Mama always made biscuits or regular old toast. As for lox . . . well, you can guess what I thought about that one  (combination or key?)
Before I realized what she meant, and about the time she mentioned “lox” I had already asked if the beagles would be full –grown or puppies.
Puppies? Lox? Beagles? Bagels?
Miss Miami and I had a shared moment of staring at each other in silent confusion, disbelief, and finally, acceptance. Acceptance that we couldn’t believe we lived in the same country much less state.
The bagel sale earned all of $12.50 with 100 percent of her customers being students who grew up south of Orlando. They were all thrilled to have found a bagel in the very Southern city of Tallahassee.
Put some South in your Mouth - Leslie Anne Tarabella
Several weeks later, I picked up a hot biscuit from a local Mom and Pop breakfast joint and took it to Miss Miami. “Here, put some South in your mouth” I told her. Even though she tried to play it cool, I could tell she was feeling the Southern love of fluffy, flakey, buttery goodness. She promised to reciprocate by bringing me a bagel, but never did.
I think she had a kind of Southern conversion experience, which wiped her clean of her former ways.
And to confuse things even more, when I went home that summer, my cousin had a Beagle named Biscuit.
And that’s the truth, y’all.

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