Monday, January 2, 2017


Once upon a time, long long ago I used to live in three distinct regions every year. I did that for quite a while, too. The worst part; other than packing and driving, was regional dialect adjustment. It usually took me a couple of weeks before I could understand the locals; wherever it may have been. My normal route would take me from Appalachian American to the Deep South and then to the salt marsh dialect of the Maryland and Virginia Eastern Shore. Major adjustment was needed with each stop.
One conversation that really stood out was a park ranger telling me about the zinc he put in his house. The best I could get out of what he was telling me was that he spent the weekend painting his bathroom or kitchen with zinc. My mind was trying to get sense out of the conversation and the best I could come up with was that maybe it was something people on the Eastern Shore did because of the marshy environment. I had him painting his walls and floor with some kind of zinc paint. I came to find out that all he had done was replace a kitchen sink. My ears were hearing one thing and my mind was trying to get something logical out of what I was hearing.
The Deep South never gave me as much trouble; except for certain words or phrases I had to figure out. One was the pronunciation of Albany, GA. One of the people I worked for pronounced it Al-BANE-EEE. I never could get used to that. The one bright spot I had during my time down there was that I worked with a Cajun from way south of New Orleans and he didn’t know what anyone was saying, either. We spent a lot of time trying to figure stuff out. I’m not even going to go into the Cajun stuff other than to say that I sure do not need the captions they show on Swamp People.
Our boss was a Florida cowboy, ex-professional bull rider who was highly excitable and had a sharp high pitched voice. His family had sold their orange groves and moved to Alabama when all the Yankees started taking over Florida. I think you are getting the picture, now. The Ragin Cajun & I are down there7 months out of the year trying to pick words out from a central Florida cowboy and a bunch of central Alabama residents; both Caucasian and African American. I know many of them thought we were complete idiots. The reality was we had to figure out what everyone was talking about; before we could react. The understanding would eventually come and as the years went on it got a bit easier. But, still the first week or so on new turf was usually fairly tough.
There was one word that we could never figure out and the cowboy used it in a phrase quite often. It was always preceded with That’s a and ended with one. We could never get that 3rd word. It became frustrating and was our inside joke. Every time he would say it; we would just grin and shrug. It could come out at any time, too You could be handling money, a car might pass by, a pretty girl might walk by and he would say it. I finally asked his brother; whose speech was slowed down a bit from falling off too many bulls. He said its Shiny (as in shiny new, new or pretty). Mystery solved.

I Hope You All Have A Shiny New Year

This is my January 2017 article for Two-Lane Livin (c) High Virginia Outdoors ALL Rights Reserved Photos (c) High Virginia Images                                                                              

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this :) Thanks for sharing. My Grandmother always has pronounced a sink "zink" and she still does.