Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday English Lesson: How Smart Are You?

Ok, this is my second, possibly last eastern Kentucky English lesson.

Smart can mean many things, and is used many ways. Also, "Right" can be used many ways.

Smart can mean someone who knows a lot, either about a particular subject, or in general. Right can mean opposite or wrong. Or opposite of left (English is like that).

However back home they are both intensifiers, and have other meanings. If a person steps on a rusty nail, he may say something like "Oh, that smarts". In this instant smart is used to describe pain. If it smarts, it hurts, take my word for it. Later on when when the doctor asks him how bad it feels, he may say, "Well, it hurts right smart", and the doctor would know exactly what he meant. If something hurts right smart, it hurts, again, take my word for it.

Smart can also means other things.

That boy runs right smart. Most likely the speaker is saying that boy runs alot, not that he runs well. I can't ever remember that exact sentence tho. How about, "That boy plays the banjer right smart". Ok, now you have to be careful, cause most likely it means he plays the banjo a lot, but it could also mean that he's good at it. Altho if they wanted to say he was good at it, most likely they'd say, "That boy's a good hand at banjerin' ". Or a right good hand.

I like language a lot. And I like this older usage of words - but its going away. I remember the old folks, the people who were born in the late 19th century, and are all dead and gone now. Those folks had a way with words. The "old-timey" ways are gone.

Ever heard (pronounced heered back home) anyone use the world holp? Its an old way of saying help, and I'm pretty sure old Will Shakespeare himself used it. So did my Grandpa, I heard it.

So, who cares? Language changes, and to wish for the older way of speaking, is to wish for times that are gone. It gets no one anywhere, once times are gone, they're gone. But I like it just the same. Just aint gonna fret about it.


Ms. Orange said...

Thank you for this English Lesson! Very interesting about the holp and Shakespeare. I read somewhere that American English and not British English is closer to Shakepearean English... :)

A Valdese Blogger said...

Thanks for the comment! Your comment has inspired me to comment on your comment in another blog post. Cause I have just tooo much to say about that subject.

mitch said...

I am a transplant from "out west". I live in a small town near the Virginia border. When I first moved here I was taken aback by the way folks talk. Now it is "normal" to me. I love to tease my friends about not finding a "mash" button on the copier. Or the first time I was told someone needed to be "carried" to the store for a "drink". The person weighed about four hundred pounds and you can imagine the look on my face. I wondered who was going to pick her up!

A Valdese Blogger said...

Hi Mitch - I've heard people in other parts of the country say things like "Will you reach me that drink", or "Can you borrow me some money" (meaning they wanted to borrow money from the person they were talking to). I remember moving to Oklahoma when I was young & having a hard time because people thought I talked funny. Now, I realize that no one in Oklahoma has a right to tell anyone they talk funny. I've heard 'em.