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Eric Shackle Writes: Butter My Butt And Call Me A Biscuit!

Eric Shackle introduces Tim Sanders, contributing editor of an Alabama newspaper, and he in turn presents a collection of vivid southern phrases which reveal the English language in a whole new light.

For lots and lots of great entertainment please visit Eric's world-famous e-book www.bdb.co.za/shackle/

We couldn't help chuckling when we read in a recent food review by Mandy Erickson in the San Francisco Chronicle, that the Lil' Biscuit House in San Mateo was displaying a sign reading "Butter my butt and call me a biscuit."

It reminded us of that similar southern US expression of surprise, "Well, slap my ass and call me Sally!"

Tim Sanders, contributing editor of The Post, in Centre, Alabama has kindly offered us this hilarious collection of southern phrases, contained in one of his articles published by that newspaper some time ago:

Well, Butter my Armpit and Call Me a Hamster

Last week we discussed a variety of Southern words and phrases with which transplanted Yankees need to familiarize themselves if they are to function in Southern society without sounding like absolute blockheads. Due to the overwhelmingly favorable response to that column (only eight complaints and not one single death threat), this weekís column will present a number of colorful Southern phrases which display both the eccentricity and the beauty of the Southern dialect.

Here are some simple Southern phrases which you Yankees can learn at home and practice. In time, you will be able to venture out in public and work a few of them into your conversations. They even make sense. Sort of.

1. Itís so hot, the trees are bribing the dogs - This will work in almost any situation. Yankees can handle discussing vegetation, canines, and meteorology.

2. Itís hotter than a goatís butt in a pepper patch - Another all-purpose weather phrase. This one will work equally well at the Rotary Club, during a Methodist covered dish dinner, or at a PTA meeting.

3. Sheís pretty as a speckled pup - This versatile phrase may be applied to newborn babies, girlfriends, or bass boats which belong to the person being addressed. Oddly enough, it does not work well with speckled pups.

4. Sheís ugly as a mud fence in a rainstorm - Applicable to newborn babies, girlfriends, bass boats, or even speckled pups, but only those belonging to a third party not present.

5. Iíll slap you so hard your clothes will be out of style when you stop rolling - Go ahead and try this one, but be careful to limit its use to members of your immediate family, pets, network newscasters, and retail sales personnel.

6. Iíve been busier than a cat covering crap on a marble floor - This is the kind of phrase which eloquently explains to Reverend Smoot why you werenít at last weekís Wednesday evening service.

7. Eagles may soar, but weasels donít get sucked into jet engines - I used to think that this was Southern for "Discretion is the better part of valor." Actually, itís just a nice, complimentary thing to say about weasels.

8. I didnít know she was my cousin - Itís difficult keeping track of oneís extended family. Especially in the South.

Some Southern phrases, on the other hand, will make no sense whatsoever to a Yankee, and it is a universal law that you should never use a phrase you donít understand. You will sound like a dork if you do. For example:

1. Iím gonna beat him like a red-headed stepchild - Iíve lived in the South for almost three decades now, and as yet no one has explained to me why red-headed stepchildren should be beaten any differently from, say, blonde-headed stepchildren. Whatever it means, it sounds great when Southerners say it, but when Yankees say it, it sounds stupid.

2. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit - Most Northerners, even those who wouldnít mind being called biscuits, would not want their butts buttered. Again, to a Yankee this one makes no sense. In fact, thinking about it too long will give you a splitting headache.

3. Donít pee down my back and tell me itís raining - One would think this would go without saying. If somebodyís going to pee down somebody elseís back, they shouldnít confuse the issue with irrelevant comments about the weather. (TV Judge Judy Scheindlin recently published a book called "Donít Pee On My Leg and Tell Me Itís Raining," which many Southerners point to as proof that Northerners are incapable of using Southern phrases correctly.)

4. Sheís a hairpin and a cat on wheels - Even Southerners do not understand exactly what this means. You would be forced to memorize it, and at some point in your conversation you would probably draw a blank and say "Sheís a ... a ... a clothespin and a dog on cement blocks," which would impress no one.

5. I got to lick my calf over - Iíve heard this several times, and Iíve never been sure if it had to do with livestock or human appendages. Either way, it conjures up visions of hairballs. Yankees should avoid this phrase.

6. Dumb as a sack full of hammers - If that were "a sack full of hamsters," it would make perfectly good sense. Weíve owned hamsters, and when it comes to small mammals, I will attest to the fact that a hamsterís IQ is almost nonexistent. A sack full of them could not chew half a stick of gum. When it comes to hand tools, however, a good claw hammer can hold its own, intelligence-wise, with screwdrivers, pliers, socket wrenches, and even wood chisels.

7. Uglier than homemade soup - A Southerner might get away with disparaging remarks about homemade soup, but a Yankee could inadvertently offend the wrong person, and wind up with a ladle "up side his head."

8. Uglier than a lard bucket full of armpits - I admire this one. I really do. Itís the kind of nonsensical phrase that falls trippingly off the Southern tongue. But when a Northerner says, "Wilbur, I do believe your Aunt VirginiaĖfine, upstanding, sophisticated and urbane woman though she may beĖis uglier than a lard bucket full of armpits," it just doesnít work.

If you are a Yankee in Dixie, learn the language, but know your limitations. If you are a non-professional and attempt the more difficult Southern phrases, you could put an eye out. Or somebody could do it for you.


The Centre Post Cherokee County Alabama's No. 1 Weekly Paper! http://www.postpaper.com/
Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit! http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/06/14/FDGO2JCG9I1.DTL
Slap My Ass and Call Me Sally! Our February 2005 story. http://www.bdb.co.za/shackle/articles/slap_my_ass.htm


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