Friday, May 04, 2012

Awl, tars, and warplars

One day I was bustling around the kitchen and our boy walked in and said:

I’m gonna take miy cuar in and have the awl changed and see about getting some new tars.

I had not really noticed up to then, that this child, who had spent the first 18 months of his liefe in Los Angeles and from birth had heard everybody around him talking like Californians, and aside from his first intelligible sentence, which was  “Go by by car? Train,” had begun talking in earnest during the next 2 years when we were in Oregon—another place where people spoke without a very distinctive local accent that we could hear—had suddenly started putting a different spin on certain words.


I recall mentioning this to my friend Judy, whose husband was born and raised in the Ozarks a little more south of here, and who she met when they were students at colluge in Arikansus. She relayed a funny story about an incident early in their marriage where she was trying to hand him tools while he was up on a ladder fixing something. 

He asked her to hand him the “warplars.” 

She was from Indiana, and had no idea what he was talking about. He began to get a little frustrated with her because the warplars were not immediately forthcoming.  

She said she wasn’t sure what the warplars were and he said ‘you know, the warplars,” and suddenly the light went on and she figured out he meant “wire pliers.”

The whole business of regional accents and expressions is quite fascinating, but I suspect the regional distinctions in how words are pronounced and used may be starting blur a little because of television and because more and more people move from one place to another. It used to be all you had to do was open your mouth and a local knew “you ain’t from around here, are ya? And occasionally, that is still true. We have good friends now who just moved here from Massachusetts. I know they "ain't from around here!"

I know I have learned to modify how I speak since we arrived here in 1980, and so has Richard. The other day when we were picking up trash in front of Lee’s Tar Shop, he bent down and said, “Wouldja look at this! A piece of bobwar.”

This morning as I left to go to aerobics, I heard a brown thrasher in the big maple tree outside the house, filling the air with his amazing song. I couldn’t see him, of course, but his song was unmistakable. I wonder if birds from one region sing with an accent?

(P.S. Some words deliberately spelled wrong to stop "Text Enhance" from automatically putting in a link to advertisements)


Paula said...

Hee hee funny entry. Sometime I say backerds and forwards. A bird, (bloggers tell me its a Mockingbird) kept me awake two nights in a row.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Birds sound the same everywhere..I think! Cute post! Happy Spring I think it might be here! :)

Smurfy turf said...

Being raised in California, as you were too, moving to the south while in military, then to Hawaii, then to New England, then back to Hawaii, people sometimes think I have a German accent and ask me when I came to the USA. I can't tell you how many times I have been told that. I don't hear it though, hummmm.

Leilani Lee said...

Hey Smurfy turf -- Having listened to many Germans on the telephone, I don't think you sound German at all -- you sound very Hawaiian to me!

jen said...

We'll never forget mom and her doing the "warsh."

Anonymous said...

I am so excited! I am coming to Gainesville MO to visit my mother the week of May 20th. If it was closer, I would sure like to say hello. I love love love the ozarks!Lisa P

Leilani Lee said...

Anonymous Lisa P: If you happen to check back and see this, I would be happy to meet you in West Plains for lunch or something. Leave another comment and we'll figure out how to "get 'er done."