How to Speak Southern

For anyone new to the South, the first thing you’ll notice is a drastic change in dialect. It’s a known fact that there’s a distinct line between northern talk and southern talk. For those of you who need to learn a few things to get around, or for anyone who needs a refresher course, here are a few words that might help:

Ah-ite The easy way to say “All right”

Chillens A slang term for “children”

Dagnabit, dangit and durnit Words you will use when angry or upset

Lollygagging To “lollygag” means to take your time doing something, usually in a situation in which you should be rushing.

Over yonder A measure of distance, usually within anywhere from a few feet to a few yards from where you are standing

Reckon To suppose or give thought to

Right’chere The slurred form of “right here”

Taters The multiple form of “tater,” meaning “potatoes”

Ya’ll or y’all A collective term meaning “you all or all of you”

Yellow The greeting used when answering a telephone call

Youngins Yet another way to say “children”

You’uns Another collective term, typically for younger people, meaning “you all”

Pronunciations and other useful information:

• Always pronounce “dog” as “dawg.”• “Daddy” is typically pronounced “Deady.”• True southerners say “water,” not “worter.”• In words ending in -ing, remember to take off the final “g” and add an apostrophe instead. (Baking becomes “bakin’,” cooking becomes “cookin’,” and sleeping becomes “sleepin'”).• The term “dinner” is typically used to refer to lunch, while “supper” tends to mean the meal prepared at night.• Don’t forget: Papa can mean “grandfather” or “father” and Mema or Memaw typically means “grandmother.”• Most importantly, don’t forget to draw out your vowels when speaking.

So, while it is true that southerners tend to speak slower than our northern neighbors, we also have a vocabulary and dialect of our very own. Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t pick up on everything right away. After all, it took us years to make this stuff up!