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home : opinions : columns June 29, 2015

11/13/2013 9:36:00 AM
Explaining some of our silly Southern sayings
Brenda Harrison
Editor

Some of our Southern sayings can befuddle our neighbors to the North and to the West, and sometimes even ourselves. Following are some explantations I found online of five of our more ridiculous sayings:

•“She’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.” When a pig dies, presumably in a sty outside, the sun dries out its skin. This effect pulls the pig’s lips back to reveal a toothy “grin,” making it look happy even though it’s dead. This phrase describes a person who’s blissfully ignorant of reality. • “He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.” On farms (not just in the South) roosters usually crow when the sun rises. Their vociferous habit wakes up the house, signaling time to work. An extremely cocky rooster might think the sun rises simply because he crows. Similarly, an extremely cocky man might think the same when he speaks — and also that everyone should listen to him.

•“She’s got more nerve than Carter’s got Liver Pills.” Carters Products started as a pill-peddling company in the latter part of the 19th century. Specifically, Carters repped its “Little Liver Pills” so hard a Southern saying spawned from the omnipresent advertisements. Alas, the Federal Trade Commission forced the drug group to drop the “liver” portion of the ad, claiming it was deceptive. Carter’s “Little Liver Pills” became Carter’s “Little Pills” in 1951, but the South doesn’t really pay attention to history. The phrase stuck.

• “I'm finer than frog hair split four ways.” Southerners mostly use this phrase to answer, “How are you?” Even those below the Mason-Dixon know frogs don’t have hair, and the irony means to highlight just how dandy you feel. The phrase reportedly originated in C. Davis’ “Diary of 1865.”

• “That thing is all catawampus.” Catawampus adj: askew, awry, cater-cornered. Lexicographers don’t really know how it evolved, though. They speculate it’s a colloquial perversion of “cater-corner.” Variations include: catawampous, cattywampus, catty wonkus. The South isn’t really big on details.









Galloway Mosley
SCPA
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