Thursday, June 19, 2008

Celebrate Cracker

I don't speak Cracker all that much these days what with living in Yankeeland, but I still think in Cracker, and the dialect comes out on odd occasions. For example, if I am called on to read aloud, I can do so more easily in Cracker than in Standard English. I also like to speak Cracker to the interns from Germany in the office because it freaks them out. They know I'm speaking English of some sort, but they can't understand me at all.

A lot of what makes up Cracker is preferred vocabulary. Crackers don't suppose or guess; they reckon. They never might do something; they're liable to do something. They never can do something; rather, they are able to do something. Crackers don't begin or start; they commence. They don't intend; they aim. They're never about to do something; they're fixing to do it. There is nothing that they should do; but there are things that they ought to do. They don't reckon that there's much difference between wanting and needing, so the latter is not used as much as it is in Yankeeland. Crackers don't have relatives; they have kin. They don't offer people rides; they offer to carry them somewhere. Crackers do things on account of causes instead of because of things. "Yonder" is used daily, whereas Yankees never use it.

Crackers have two second persons, both employing the formal form. There's the singular "ye" and the plural "y'all" or "y'uns" depending on which side of the ridge you come from.

One of my favorite Cracker linguistic tools is the interposition of the word "ass" (pronounced more like "ace") between and adjective and the noun it modifies. This adds emphasis to the adjective, as in "hand me that red ass shovel" or "he runs that loud ass mower" or "that sure was a big ass catamount". I still use this in my thoughts but have few opportunities to use it in speech because Yankees mistake it for cussing.

Crackers have lots of words for inexact quantities. You can pick a "mess o'beans", and that's a good bit, enough for a meal for a household. You can move something a "tad", and that's a little bit. If you promise to do something "directly", that means you'll do it when you get to it.

Double and triple negatives are not problematic. "Ain't" is a perfectly cromulent contraction for "am not". "I ain't got no more taters" is a perfectly sensible sentence.

Crackers cuss better than other Americans, and a good yarn told in Cracker is about the best entertainment in the world. "Two bulls, a young'un and his sire, were standin' on top of a hill and lookin' down at a herd of cows in the medder below. The young'un says to his sire, 'Let's run down yonder to that medder and fuck us some of them there cows!' "No, son,' the old'un replies. 'Let's walk down and fuck ever one.'" That anecdote does not work with a Bronx accent.

I'd love to hear me some news read in Cracker once in a while or for serious characters in TV shows to speak Cracker.

No comments: