I’ve been spending some time with friends in Missouri. Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned a few things.
In some areas, the state we’re in is “Mi-zur-ee.” In other areas, “Mi-zur-uh.”
“That hound won’t hunt” means “you’re not getting away with that, young lady.”
“Even a blind sow can find an acorn once in awhile” means “anyone can get lucky once in awhile.”
“The sow found an acorn!” means “I just had a stroke of great luck!”
The lady of the house asked if I’d like some iced tea, and I said, “Sure, a tad bit.” Then I had to explain how much a tad was. (For those who don’t know, it’s more than a pinch, but not quite a schosh.)
Then the same lady said, “So, you’re from Ore-uh-gone.” I cringed and explained “Ore-uh-gone is a city in Illinois. The way you pronounce the name of my state is Orygun.” So important is the proper pronunciation that Oregon has it emblazoned on T-shirts, bumper stickers, magnets, and on and on. (Mispronounce it when you’re in my state at your own peril.)
She, on the other hand, stressed that Illinois has NO s on the end when you say it. It’s Ill-in-Oy. And if you mispronounce it, forget the acorn. The sow becomes bacon and all is utterly lost!
Colloquialisms and regional pronunciations are such fun!
And sitting there, delighting in what my Mi-zur-ee friends were saying, got me to thinking about authentic voice as a writer. When you write, you need to let your true voice, colloquialisms and all, shine forth. Writing nonfiction? Be sure you sound like you! Because your voice is what sets you apart from other writers. Are you a novelist? Make sure your characters use speech that’s authentic to the region they’re in. That touch of realism will delight the readers who know the area, and help educate those who aren’t.
So now I’m curious. What are some colloquialisms or regional pronunciations from your corner of the world?