Southern Fried Mark
Well I’m new to the South; I know absolutely nothing about Southern culture – beyond some of the food, I know nothing. When I was growing up I think I spent two summers down here – and that was in the eighties. I know nothing man. I don’t know anything about fried gizzards, fried chicken livers – I wouldn’t know a Turnip green from a Mustard green. I thought I stood out in California – boy do I stand out here.
For instance, the English language is a foreign language down here. Yes, ok they speak English down here, but not like you and I speak it. For instance let’s take a word like…Hmmmm, I’ve got one: Christmas. Now you and I say: Chris –t – mas. The ‘mas’ takes on a ‘mus’ sound. The ‘t’ is silent, but never the less, we know it’s there. Well, down here some of – well – a lot of our country brethren say ‘Crimma’. Yes, you are reading it right: ‘Crimma’. There is no ‘s’ and there is most definitely no ‘t’; just ‘Crimma’.
Now being from New York and California, I came up around our people’s re-interpretation of the English language all of my life. Hell, being from New York there are certain words I butcher to death like: Mustard. In New York we say: ‘Musted’. There is no ‘r’ in the word Mustard in New York. As a matter of fact, the ‘r’ gets hacked off of a lot of things in New York, most especially the name York. New Yorkers call it – New Yawk. And that’s alright (by the way, I bet it was in New York that the phrase aiiight was born – no ‘r’ sound) cause around other Easterners we sound normal.
In the West – there is a drawl; if you pay attention a lot of cats in the West don’t have heavy voices, not all, but a whole lot of cats don’t. Believe it or not, a lot of cats actually sound like Too Short and Eazy E – and the exception to the rule: Hammer. It’s true. Now slang is countrified out there – but that is by choice. If you really listen to a cat you can tell that he knows how to put his words together well, he just chooses not to. And that’s okay.
However, in the South, brothers really say ‘Who that is?’ Or ‘What that is?’ Or ‘What name is you?’…Sometimes upon hearing this I have to stop and think to myself: “Damn, now what did that brother say?”
Now in other parts of the country, you know when our folks are just speaking slang – and you go ‘Ok dude is just reppin’ his side of town or whatever’. But down here Ebonics takes on a whole other meaning. It really is another language. It has been passed down for generation upon generation upon generation…until it is what it is now: the norm; in other words, all you know.
What a difference an education can make.