I was born a Yankee and was taught the spoken work by a fastidious mother who abhored poor language. Our speech was corrected regularly. I was also an advanced reader, perusing university level text in 6th grade. I have an extraordinary vocabulary, and have studied more subjects than I can ever hope to understand, and so I learned a little about a great lot.
I lived in Memphis for a year, and Southern California for ten years. I also lived in the Spokane Washington area for a year. I was in the U.S. Navy and was able to visit a good number of Pacific areas, including Australia.
All of this travel made me a changed man when I returned to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I had tried new and wonderous things, explored new activities, and made freinds from all over the U.S. and several coutries.
What I discovered is that there are many dialects and lifestyles in this world. I call a carbonated soft drink either a pop, or soda pop, depending on the company I am with. I learned horse skills from a Texan, a great freind. When with him, I quikly learned new phrases and words that allowed us to communicate freely.
Growing up, I always felt that the dialect from my area was the one closest to the universal American English taught to news-anchors, and the professional journalists. And, I foolishly thought that it was the correct English. But I eventually learned that my little piece of Heaven had its own colloquialisms, such as improperly using the word ignorant to mean rude, i.e. "He was so ignorant to her when she had simply asked him to dance." My Grandmother called her sofa/hide-a-bed a davenport. And she conjugated the phrase - pretty near - to pertineer, as in "I was pertineer exhausted by the time I climbed six flights of stairs."
I don't eat mud-cats as I don't enjoy the flavor of catfish from muddy water. I do eat catfish caught in the pristine waters of Lake Superior. Up here, we love a mess of brookies caught from a stream, or some good walleye (pickeral in Canadian lingo). I find some southern phrases to be at the best, condescending, as when a person says something like - "That poor woman has gained twenty pounds over the summer, bless her soul". As if gossiping about the weight gain of another is somehow made Ok by adding "...bless her soul".
I love some of the Southern customs and the easy grace of the south. But I admire the toughness and tenacity of one who can camp in a tent, in sub-zero weather, just to catch a few pike through a diminutive hole in the ice. I;ve done winter camping, and as a child, have played in the winter until the cuffs of my mittens were frozen with a ring of ice, so that I couldn't get them off of my hands until they thawed. I've been so close to frost-bite so many times, I can't count them. And yet, I am able to endure pain, and tieredness that sends most into their warm and comfortable homes. It gives you a kind of mental toughness.
I have to admit, that just as I call my Southern California Wife a "cold-weather-wimp", I am just the opposite. When the mercury climbs to the upper 80's, and into the 90's, it saps my strength and can even make me nauseous. The only time I seemed to be immune to the heat was when I was dirt-biking in Southern California.
I love aspects of the South, and of the North. But I'm a northerner through and through, not necessarily a Yankee, but a Northerner.
As far as the labels go, to me, they are just labels. I choose to take the best of wherever I may be, and count myself lucky to find so many good people in so many places. A person who accepts labels, or defines hem/hersself by a label, be it racial, regional, religous, or whatever, accepts limits. I accept no limits and consider the world my playground, and all the people in it prospective freinds.
I am proud to be a northerner, for the toughness that a northern lifestyle can nurture. I choose to live in the north because I melt in the south.
The thing that suprised me, in my home-town, was the level of predjudice that existed here, that I never knew about as a child. And the speech tendencies of many I know border on pigeon English, especially among some of my Native relatives and freinds who live in the very rural areas. The stubborn refusal to learn correct pronunciation and usage of language drives me crazy. You just couldn't believe how some people pronounce words around here, especially those of hispanic origin. anything having to do with queso is con queso, pronounced - kon-kwayso. Tortillas become prononunced as they are spelled, with the L-sound distinctly heard - tor-till-uhs. Itallian is often heard - hi-tal-yun, with a long I sound.
I could go on.
I love the subtle nuances of the French language, but love English for its versatiltiy. I love the customs and foods of every region of the world I've had the opportunity to visit.
I love to poke fun at Texans, but admit, I've had some very, very good freinds from that state.
And besides, down south, you guys just can't get maple syrup from your back yard. How can a guy live in a place where he can't get maple syrup from his back yard? But then again, I can't go crabin' or enjoy a shrimp or crab boil. We do have corn boils though. Corn grows perfectly well up here, thank you.
And you don't have Goodweed's pancake breakfast every spring, with freshly boiled maple syrup!
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North