I love the “Outlander” television series on STARZ. Are you familiar with it? “Outlander” is a British-American television drama based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. This author has written 8 books in this set and I believe is working on a ninth, with each novel of hers over 800 pages. My book club introduced me to her first book and when I read the synopsis I was totally turned off: a married World War II nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to 1743 Scotland, where she encounters the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings. Time travel? Not a fan of fantasy.
But several years later I saw the STARZ cable network’s first season and was hooked. Time travel only played a minor transportation part to get our nurse from here to there. I mean, Gabaldon didn’t go into detail describing it. It was just a means to get her back in time. And when she landed in Scotland, my, oh, my, I was mesmerized. And then when I saw Jamie Frazer, the nurse’s true love…that’s all she wrote.
My maternal grandmother came from a Scotch-Irish heritage: McCollum. While watching the TV series, the writers had several different Scots say, “Good luck to ‘ya!” in various situations. I heard my mother say that on many occasions. “Mother, I am running to the store to pick up…” “Good luck to ‘ya!” “Mama, I am nervous about my test on…” “Good luck to ‘ya!” No matter how large or small a situation, as I left to act on something, her response was the same, “Good luck to ‘ya!”
It made me think that maybe this was some saying passed down by the Scottish McCollums and without knowing, they might be repeating something from generations ago without thinking…just a rote statement.
Once, while at the nail salon I heard a thirty-plus-year-old gal who was on the phone and sitting next to me declare, “Dag Nab It.” After her conversation I found out her age and then I asked her about her saying “Dag Nab It.” If you remember that expression was repeated on the Appalachian family TV show, “The Real McCoys” (1957-1962), by Walter Brennan, as Amos McCoy. He delivered the line “Dag Nab It, Luke!” whenever he was frustrated with his grandson (played by Richard Crenna).
She wasn’t old enough to hear it first hand and explained she heard her mother express it all the time and picked it up from her. See? She didn’t know its origin. It was her mother’s habit to use that phrase and now another generation is borrowing it.
Now, what remarks are we Southerners passing down to our children and possibly theirs? Let’s take a look at a few:
- He’s a tall drink of iced tea.
- They’re as happy as clams at high tide.
- They’re finer than frogs’ hair split four ways.
- He’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.
- She’s got more style than Carter’s got liver pills.
- She’s as wild as a June bug on a string.
- She’s madder than a wet hen.
- He’s as crooked as a barrel of snakes.
- You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
- She’s as jumpy as a cat on a hot tin roof.
What are we ‘heah in the South’ inherently demonstrating in language to our future children?
If you are unsure of the meaning of some of these Southern cultured similes and metaphors (which is just a drop in the bucket of what’s out there), just ask your grandparents because Mamaw, Big Daddy, and these aphorisms go together like peas and carrots.