Have you ever wondered why someone couldn’t understand you? I mean, you both are speaking English. Both of you were raised right here in the good ‘ol US of A. So why is it that we just can’t always understand what the other person is trying to say. I pondered this recently when I was visiting my mom in the nursing home. We were recalling a funny story of visiting her family in Virginia.
My mom was raised in Southwest Virginia and I was fortunate enough to spend many of my summers visiting my Granny (my great grandmother) with my mom and grandma who both lived in Northeast Ohio after moving here in the early 1950’s. During these wonderful summers, I found it easy to pick up how they spoke and never really gave it much thought that it would be considered a “different language” as I quickly spoke just like them! For those of you who don’t know me, I can talk with quite speed. Yet as I’ve grown older, I have learned to slow it down so people can understand me…sort of. Not true when I was a youngster! I could speed through a paragraph of story telling faster than you could say, “Pardon?”
So, imagine what it would be like to take my speed, add the southern “language”, bring me back to Ohio and place me in my school classes each fall! Yes! I got, “Excuse me, what did you say?” from many teachers, not to mention my classmates!”
So, with my being able to communicate with my Southern born and bred relatives with ease, it never occurred to me that my hubby or daughter would have a bit of a time especially when a couple of my cousins and I got together. When we talked, we could speed through a conversation faster than a tornado! One particular story brought hilarious laughter, then tears to my mom and I again the other day when I was reminding my mom of it.
I had taken my mom, grandma, hubby and daughter “down home” to Virginia to see the family. We had all been sharing stories of “remember when’s” and just talking a mile a minute. At one point in the conversation, my mom’s cousin Jim, who is her age, was telling tales about “up the road in them thar hollers”. He kept talking and talking until finally at one point my husband said, “What on earth are you talking about? What is a holler?”
There was a long pause. All the relatives slowly looked at each other. Then Jim finally looked back at my husband and said, “Boy, ain’t you never heard of a holler?”
“No, I have no idea what you are talking about,” said my husband.
“Well then, Tammy, let’s git in yer van and go show this boy, here, some hollers, ” Jim said.
And so we did.
My husband, daughter, cousin Jim and I all got into our van. Jim gave directions as I drove up into the hills to show both hubby and daughter the hollers. It was hilarious as Jim would give us all the “low-down” of what’s going on up in that holler or this holler. For the most part, the hubby was following what he was saying, although, looking in the rearview mirror, on occasion, I could tell he didn’t catch the drift! Many words had too much twang in them or slang that poor hubby just couldn’t keep up!
As we were making our way back up the main highway heading back to my aunt’s house, Jim was explaining to us the terrible tragedy that had been happening to the local cattle. This is the part of the holler tour that we still to this day make fun of my poor husband not “being able to understand the language!”
Jim: “We been havin’ a turible time with the cattle round heya. Seems the ranchers can’t for the life of themselves catch all these cow-otees runnin’ rampant in them there herds over yonder.”
Hubby: “Wow, what kind of cows are they, that they are running rampant?”
Jim: “Huh, boy, whatchu mean what kinda cows are they? Ain’t chu neva heard of a
cow-otee? Boy, ain’t chu got you some cow-otees in O-Hi?”
Hubby: “I don’t think so, what color are they?”
Jim: (Looking at me very puzzled) “How do I know what color they are, I’m not chasin’ em, I guess they are the color all cow-otees are. Boy, what’s wrong with you?…what color are they” he mumbles and looks at me with frustration.
Then I look in the rearview mirror as my poor hubby is looking into the fields we are passing.
I say: “Whatcha looking for?”
Hubby: “I guess a different looking cow over there in the field with the other cows.”
Jim: (now getting totally frustrated with my hubby) “Boy, what in tarnation are you talkin’ ’bout? There ain’t no cow-otees in the field today, they come out at night an attack the cows.”
Hubby: “Wait, what are you saying? Say it slow.”
Jim: “cooowww – oootteeeess, cow-otees. Boy you deaf? Tammy, why can’t this boy understand me? Ain’t ya’ll got cow-otees in O-Hi?”
Hubby: “I’m telling you, I’ve never heard of an animal called a cow-otee. Is it as big as the regular cows?”
Jim: “Ain’t no cow, boy, it’s a cow-otee! A cow-otee! You git it?”
Have I ever admitted to you that I’m an ornery girl through and through? Well, I am having an absolute blast watching this whole conversation that carried on for more than 20 minutes, I kid you not. I did a great job not cracking up though.
Hubby: “Tammy, do you know what he’s talking about?”
Hubby: “Will you puh – lease tell me what is a cow-otee?”
Me: “It’s a coyote.”
At this point, Jim shakes his head and says, “YES!”
Hubby: “Well Jim, why didn’t you just say coyote?”
Jim: “Boy, I been sayin’ cow-otee the entire tyme we been talkin’! You deaf?”
I guess it’s true that no matter where you go, you should always try to pay close attention to those you are speaking with, especially if you don’t speak the same language! But, I have to admit, it is rather hilarious standing to the side watching others try to understand each other when they don’t! Just too stinkin’ funny!
…and that’s all I have to say about that!