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#1
Old 01-05-2010, 02:34 PM
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Do What Now? And Other Regional Phrases

A visiting vendor was talking to his office outside my cubicle.

"Do what now?" I heard him say, and it made me smile.

For those not familiar with Southern Colloquialisms, "do what now?" is equivalent to "would you repeat that please?"

It's one of the phrases I had to adjust to when I moved from New England down here to the Carolinas.

Along with the "y'all" which I was fully familiar with from all the overly-dramatized accents portrayed on TV, I also soon learned such phrases as:

"Mash that light" (flip the light switch)
"Don't be ugly" (don't be disagreeable)
"Bless his heart" (recognize that he's a poor soul that needs pity)
"He's a mess" (he's being silly so make sure to bless his heart)

And many others, which I hope you will add.

What regional phrases did you have to get used to when you relocated (and tell where you relocated from and to, if you don't mind!)
#2
Old 01-05-2010, 02:40 PM
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Out in Utah they say


Oh, my Heck!



...which has always struck me as pretty odd. Elsewhere, "heck" is used as a euphemism for "hell", replacing it in phrases like "What the Hell?" or "Where the Hell is he?"


But nobody says "Oh, my Hell!" It's the only time "heck" is used where it's not a direct replacement for "Hell", as far as I'm aware, and it's a regionalism, confined to Utah and the surrounding Intermountain West.

It's such a characteristic regionalism that cartoonist Pat Bagley used it as the title of one of his collections:

http://amazon.com/Heck-Pretty-Gr...2720390&sr=1-1
#3
Old 01-05-2010, 02:43 PM
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When my travels brought me from Massachusetts to Tennessee, I had to give up "wicked" (Boy, it is wicked cold out today!) and learn "Bless his heart" (as it, "Bless his heart, [that idiot] doesn't know any better.")
#4
Old 01-05-2010, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
When my travels brought me from Massachusetts to Tennessee, I had to give up "wicked" (Boy, it is wicked cold out today!) and learn "Bless his heart" (as it, "Bless his heart, [that idiot] doesn't know any better.")
I still say wicked. But I only slide back to my Boston accent upon request.

[Steve Sweeney]
Pahk my cah in Hahvahd yahd? What ah you? Retahded? That's not a pahking lot!

[/Steve Sweeney]
#5
Old 01-05-2010, 02:48 PM
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Wicked pissah!
#6
Old 01-05-2010, 02:51 PM
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Am I a Southerner? I say "Do what now?"

I had to get used to people confusing the words "borrow" and "lend/loan" when I moved to the Midwest. I know what you're thinking: "What the hell?" It's true, people will ask you to borrow them $100 as opposed to loaning them $100. It actually confused me the first time I heard it. Made no sense, I tells ya! I also had to learn to live with the fact that actual people here will say "You betcha."
#7
Old 01-05-2010, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by MeanOldLady View Post
Am I a Southerner? I say "Do what now?"
I would need an audio clip to confirm that you are saying it southern
#8
Old 01-05-2010, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
Wicked pissah!
Cold enough for ya?
#9
Old 01-05-2010, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by melodyharmonius View Post
I would need an audio clip to confirm that you are saying it southern
I'm from Southern California, so I'm probably saying it southernish, right?
#10
Old 01-05-2010, 03:03 PM
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I picked up "reach me down [an object]" from my aunt, who grew up in Kansas and lived in Oklahoma most of her adult life.
#11
Old 01-05-2010, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MeanOldLady View Post
I'm from Southern California, so I'm probably saying it southernish, right?
I knew it!! LOL.
#12
Old 01-05-2010, 03:09 PM
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My family uses all of the phrases in the OP. In fact, my parents almost always use the word "mash" instead of "push". "Mash on the gas", "mash the elevator button", "mash the light switch."

I use the phrase "Say that again?" to mean that I didn't hear what was said. Sometimes people are offended as it does sort of come out as an order rather than a request.

"Do what now?" sort of means "could you repeat that", but I've always heard and used it to mean more of a "what the heck are you talking about?" kind of thing.
#13
Old 01-05-2010, 03:10 PM
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One wicked pissah thing I learned when I move to Boston:

I walked into a Christy's (remember those?) and asked the counter guys where the pop was.

"Pop? Pop?!? What ah ya, retahded or somethin'? You must be from Nebrasker! It's tawnic! TAWNIC!"
#14
Old 01-05-2010, 03:10 PM
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Speaking of Southern Cali, the phrase "No worries!" as a substitute for "Don't worry"/"No problem" still sounds...surfer-ish to me, and I've lived out here for 4 years now. I transplanted from Michigan...
#15
Old 01-05-2010, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdn View Post
One wicked pissah thing I learned when I move to Boston:

I walked into a Christy's (remember those?) and asked the counter guys where the pop was.

"Pop? Pop?!? What ah ya, retahded or somethin'? You must be from Nebrasker! It's tawnic! TAWNIC!"
i don't call it tonic, i call it soda.

Down here, they call it a 'coke'

"Wanna coke?" they'd ask.

"Sure."

"What kind?" (i was thinking regular, diet, etc.)

"Whatcha got?"

"RC, Sprite, Rootbeer, Pepsi. . ."

(it was rare they actually had 'Coke' too!)
#16
Old 01-05-2010, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by MeanOldLady View Post
I had to get used to people confusing the words "borrow" and "lend/loan" when I moved to the Midwest. I know what you're thinking: "What the hell?" It's true, people will ask you to borrow them $100 as opposed to loaning them $100. It actually confused me the first time I heard it. Made no sense, I tells ya!
Grr, I hate that, to me it's the sign that someone is severely uneducated. My wife uses the phrase a lot (probably because we are close enough to the Midwest to have our speech take on those regionalisms) and I often correct her. Another one she uses is "she" to refer to inatimate objects, such as "She's really coming down now!" talking about the weather, and "I couldn't control the car, she was spinning out on the road." For some reason, I'm positive those are Atlantic-isms (she was posted in Halifax for a while when she was in the navy), and every time she says that, I picture a rugged sailor on a ship, because that's who I associate with using the feminine for all inanimate objects ...
#17
Old 01-05-2010, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by melodyharmonius View Post
i don't call it tonic, i call it soda.
I think the use of tonic is falling out of favor. I mostly hear it now from older people from Dorchester.

Do you know what a regular coffee is?
#18
Old 01-05-2010, 03:30 PM
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There's one non-regional group that uses "do what now?" and "whatnow" - as opposed to "What [i]NOW[/i?" fairly often: Simpsons fans. [Of course the most popular version is "who shot who in the what now?" which I'm sure nobody else ever says.] Anyway:

When I moved to the Midwest I didn't mind "pop" or "bubbler," but I first heard "hella" when I was out there and I just loathed it. Turns out it's a Californian word via Gwen Stefani and South Park, so I can't blame the Midwesterners for it.
#19
Old 01-05-2010, 03:35 PM
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My college roommate was from Pittsburgh and she when she asked me for a "gum band" I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. But that's a whole 'nother story. (a midwesternism)
#20
Old 01-05-2010, 03:35 PM
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If you use the construction "That car needs washed," instead of "needs to be washed" or "needs washing," I know you live within a 4-hour drive of me.
#21
Old 01-05-2010, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
When I moved to the Midwest I didn't mind "pop" or "bubbler," but I first heard "hella" when I was out there and I just loathed it. Turns out it's a Californian word via Gwen Stefani and South Park, so I can't blame the Midwesterners for it.
"Hella" is, AFAIK, originally a Northern Californian word. I grew up in the Bay Area and said it all the time when I was in high school and college. I didn't realize it was a regionalism until I went to college and met a lot of Southern Californians who had never heard it before.

This was in 1996/1997...it's much more widespread now, I think. I don't say it at all anymore.
#22
Old 01-05-2010, 03:51 PM
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My coworker comes up with off the wall (to put it mildly) sayings all the time. I don't think they really count as "regional", though. This morning we were talking about the new Google phone. I said it cost around $500, or $180 with a two-year contract. His reply, "At that price, you might as well jump out a window and land on your forehead."
#23
Old 01-05-2010, 03:51 PM
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Growing up in northern Indiana, I was at the intersection of pop, coke and soda.

Moving to middle Tennessee fifteen years added another one: cold drink.

IME, it tends to be used primarily among the working class, as I've heard it mostly from the folks out on the floor of factories and warehouses.
#24
Old 01-05-2010, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by tdn View Post
I think the use of tonic is falling out of favor. I mostly hear it now from older people from Dorchester.

Do you know what a regular coffee is?
Cream and Sugar.
#25
Old 01-05-2010, 03:55 PM
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The Midwest is a big place. I've lived in eastern and southern Wisconsin, Minneapolis and the suburbs, and the Chicagoland area, and some of these "Midwest" terms I've never heard of.

"Bubbler" (for drinking fountain) is confined to a few, very small parts of the Midwest and will either confuse the hell out of anyone outside of those areas, or make them laugh hysterically at your backwards dialect.

"Pop" covers part of the Midwest, the rest is "soda". I moved from a "soda" part of Wisconsin to a mostly "pop" part of Illinois (Chicago area) and converted my born-saying-pop husband to saying "soda".

No idea what a "gum band" is, and in my experience the "borrow"/"loan" confusion is usually found among the less educated.
#26
Old 01-05-2010, 03:56 PM
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[quote]
Quote:

I think the use of tonic is falling out of favor. I mostly hear it now from older people from Dorchester.

Do you know what a regular coffee is?
Quote:
Cream and Sugar.


No fair cribbing from Dunkin' Donuts commercials



And your hair don't smell like sunshine.
#27
Old 01-05-2010, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
No idea what a "gum band" is, <snip>
It's a rubberband. But I only figured that out when she started making stretchy hand motions!
#28
Old 01-05-2010, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdn View Post
I think the use of tonic is falling out of favor. I mostly hear it now from older people from Dorchester.

Do you know what a regular coffee is?
Sure - cream, 2 sugars!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
There's one non-regional group that uses "do what now?" and "whatnow" - as opposed to "What [i]NOW[/i?" fairly often: Simpsons fans. [Of course the most popular version is "who shot who in the what now?" which I'm sure nobody else ever says.] Anyway:

When I moved to the Midwest I didn't mind "pop" or "bubbler," but I first heard "hella" when I was out there and I just loathed it. Turns out it's a Californian word via Gwen Stefani and South Park, so I can't blame the Midwesterners for it.
'do what?' is the version we use when we are shocked at the request. (pronounced 'doooooo what?')

I first heard 'hella' on a Real World Miami episode - the girl was describing the house to her mom on the phone and said, 'it's hella big!' I think she was from PA though . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surly Chick View Post
My college roommate was from Pittsburgh and she when she asked me for a "gum band" I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. But that's a whole 'nother story. (a midwesternism)
what is a 'gum band'?
#29
Old 01-05-2010, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by melodyharmonius View Post
Sure - cream, 2 sugars!
Correct. Not just sugar, but 2 sugars.

Bubbler is not only Chicagoese, but Bostonese as well. But it's usually pronounced Bubblah.
#30
Old 01-05-2010, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tdn View Post
Correct. Not just sugar, but 2 sugars.

Bubbler is not only Chicagoese, but Bostonese as well. But it's usually pronounced Bubblah.
I used to always order a "white elephant" - Large, extra cream, no sugar.

And I was going to say "bubblah" but we also called it a "water fountain"
#31
Old 01-05-2010, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Surly Chick View Post
My college roommate was from Pittsburgh and she when she asked me for a "gum band" I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. But that's a whole 'nother story. (a midwesternism)
What is she talking about?

Quote:
Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
My coworker comes up with off the wall (to put it mildly) sayings all the time. I don't think they really count as "regional", though. This morning we were talking about the new Google phone. I said it cost around $500, or $180 with a two-year contract. His reply, "At that price, you might as well jump out a window and land on your forehead."
Ha ha! I don't know what that's supposed to mean, but it is hilarious. I laughed out loud.
#32
Old 01-05-2010, 04:27 PM
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"You need to eat/drink you sumthin'"

Used to grate on my last frickin' nerve!!!!!!!!!!!

Q
#33
Old 01-05-2010, 04:28 PM
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You all talk funny.
#34
Old 01-05-2010, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
My family uses all of the phrases in the OP. In fact, my parents almost always use the word "mash" instead of "push". "Mash on the gas", "mash the elevator button", "mash the light switch."
I say "hit" where you say "mash". I'm in se Michigan.
Everybody here at work also says "Do what now?", usually because they were busy when you spoke and can now pay attention to what you need.

I used to have a group of friends from pennsylvania and they said "you'ns", only people I ever knew to use that.
#35
Old 01-05-2010, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by MeanOldLady View Post
What is she talking about?
I get that a lot. Gum band is Pittsburgh speak for rubberband.
#36
Old 01-05-2010, 05:07 PM
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My husband and his sister (from Texas) say "put up" instead of "put away" ("Put up your toys, Timmy.")

They also say "I'm going to do X here in a minute." Whatever you're doing is "here" in whatever time. . . even if it's not actually "here". Like: "I'm going to go to Costco here in a minute." or "I'm leaving for work here in an hour."

I have no idea if this is a family thing or a Southern thing, but they both do it, so now I do it.
#37
Old 01-05-2010, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Obsidian View Post
My husband and his sister (from Texas) say "put up" instead of "put away" ("Put up your toys, Timmy.")

They also say "I'm going to do X here in a minute." Whatever you're doing is "here" in whatever time. . . even if it's not actually "here". Like: "I'm going to go to Costco here in a minute." or "I'm leaving for work here in an hour."

I have no idea if this is a family thing or a Southern thing, but they both do it, so now I do it.
I've heard those as well.

One thing that always makes me chuckle (partly because I find myself doing it too) is my mom asking me a "quick question" or doing something "right quick" - neither is every quick - but it's just that they are all like that.
#38
Old 01-05-2010, 05:27 PM
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I had a friend from southeast Kansas who had two phrases he used all the time. One was, "Rainin' harder'n a cow pissin' on a flat rock", which made a whole lot of sense the first time I saw a cow urinate on a cement barn floor.

The other phrase was, "Don't that make your ass wanna dip snuff?"

This is also a guy who pronounces the words "wolf" and "wolves" as "woof" and "woofs", which is pretty typical around these parts.
#39
Old 01-05-2010, 06:07 PM
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I grew up near Pittsburgh, so I know about gum bands. Anyone out there know what it means to be nebby AKA a neb nose? Also, the roads get slippy in the winter. I've had to work to use the verb "to be." Didn't know it was wrong until I got to college . I also know how to red off a table. Lots of Pittsburgh regionalisms.

Now that I live in Ohio, it drives me nuts when people use itch instead of scratch, as in, "itch my back."

I do like the regionalisms that our relative in northern Minnesota use such as "spendy" and "oh for cute!"

Last edited by slightly askew; 01-05-2010 at 06:08 PM. Reason: typo
#40
Old 01-05-2010, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
There's one non-regional group that uses "do what now?" and "whatnow" - as opposed to "What NOW?" fairly often: Simpsons fans. [Of course the most popular version is "who shot who in the what now?" which I'm sure nobody else ever says.]
I was saying "Boo-urns" say that!
#41
Old 01-05-2010, 06:37 PM
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I'm "fixin'" to get me somethin to eat, so.... y'all don't "run off"!

Q
#42
Old 01-05-2010, 06:44 PM
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What I Call The "Heavenly Disclaimer"

If you're from the South and you want to criticize someone, it is incumbent upon you (especially if you're Baptist) to preface what you are about to say with one of the following:

1. You know, I just love her/him to death, but........

2. God love her/him, but......

That way, you haven't offended the "Big Guy" (I guess.....)

And, of course, the aforementioned, "Bless his/her heart......."

Don't seem like a German boy oughta know all that stuff, does it?

Q
#43
Old 01-05-2010, 06:46 PM
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Central PA: "Redd up the room" for "Clean up the room".
#44
Old 01-05-2010, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slightly askew View Post
I grew up near Pittsburgh, so I know about gum bands. Anyone out there know what it means to be nebby AKA a neb nose? Also, the roads get slippy in the winter. I've had to work to use the verb "to be." Didn't know it was wrong until I got to college . I also know how to red off a table. Lots of Pittsburgh regionalisms.

Now that I live in Ohio, it drives me nuts when people use itch instead of scratch, as in, "itch my back."

I do like the regionalisms that our relative in northern Minnesota use such as "spendy" and "oh for cute!"
I did not grow up particularly near Pittsburgh (about 2 1/2 hours drive away in Ohio), but man, those Pittsburghisms popped up in my and my neighbors' speech all the time. At home, we would "redd" the table after dinner before some "nibb-nose" showed up and ate all our "chip-chop ham."

At school, a classmate showed up and told us another teacher was ready for us to come over to watch the movie. Except he said, "She's ready for yinz." My teacher invited the boy to rephrase that, so he responded, "She's ready for yinz guys.

Many years later, I learned this phrase could be made possessive when a waitress informed us she would be "right back with yinz guyses' meals." Meals in this case rhymed with mills.

BTW, I also hate "itch" instead of "scratch."
#45
Old 01-05-2010, 07:42 PM
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In the Pacific NW, people begin a sentence with the word "anymore," as in "Anymore, I ..." when I would use the word "Nowadays, I ...". No matter how many times I hear it, it sounds odd.

When I hear someone say "right quick", I have to stop myself from doing something really bad. Luckily, I hardly ever hear it, not living in the South.
#46
Old 01-05-2010, 07:44 PM
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Chicago/Midwest: Washroom = bathroom. In other places, nobody know what you mean when you ask where the washroom is.
#47
Old 01-05-2010, 07:46 PM
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When I moved from Ohio to NYC, it took forever to learn to say "soda" rather than "pop." And to learn the difference between "merry," "marry" and "Mary."

25 years later, in 1995, I moved back to Ohio, and had to unlearn everything. And one day I used the phrase "I don't give a rat's ass" and got some very strange looks. Since then, it's become commonplace everywhere.
#48
Old 01-05-2010, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Mannish View Post
Speaking of Southern Cali, the phrase "No worries!" as a substitute for "Don't worry"/"No problem" still sounds...surfer-ish to me, and I've lived out here for 4 years now. I transplanted from Michigan...
Surferish? Sounds more Aussie to me...
#49
Old 01-05-2010, 08:29 PM
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Please?

That's what people in the Cincinnati area say when they didn't catch what you said. Short for "please repeat that" or something. Bugs the crap outta me.

"Keep the house picked up" always bugs me too.
#50
Old 01-05-2010, 09:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melodyharmonius View Post
I first heard 'hella' on a Real World Miami episode - the girl was describing the house to her mom on the phone and said, 'it's hella big!' I think she was from PA though . . .
That was Sarah, who was originally from PA, but lived in California, and was a skateboarder. Hella was surfer/skateboarder slang before it ever went mainstream.
Quote:
Originally Posted by maladroit View Post
I used to have a group of friends from pennsylvania and they said "you'ns", only people I ever knew to use that.
Not you'ns, yinz. It's, as has been noted, a SW PA, largely Pittsburgh metro area, thing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by slightly askew View Post
Anyone out there know what it means to be nebby AKA a neb nose?
Sure, nebnoses are always butting into your business. A truly persistent nebnose turns into a nebshit.
Quote:
I also know how to red off a table. Lots of Pittsburgh regionalisms.
Redd off. Never heard that one. Redd up, sure. In fact, our last mayor of Pittsburgh's citywide "let's make our town look better" initiative, still in effect as a memorial to him, is called "Redd Up Pittsburgh." But I've never heard it with an "off."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
I'm "fixin'" to get me somethin to eat, so.... y'all don't "run off"!
I went to college in SW Missouri, but the student body came from all over the place. The Oklahoman and Texan girls in my dorm got everyone out of the habit of referring to our pre-menstrual moodiness as PMS. Instead, we were FTS, or "fixin' to start." Our Minnesota/North Dakota friends hipped us to the power of the bubbler, as well as the beautiful phrase come with, as in "We're going to get lunch, want to come with?" or "Is it just you two? I thought Melissa was going to come with." And courtesy the Utahns, I've been saying "oh my heck!" for 20 years. Washroom in place of bathroom was prevalent on campus too -- with the Canadians, though, not the midwesterners.
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