Vernacular – ver’nak’u’lar: 1. The everyday language of the people in a country or region, distinct from the official or spoken language. 2. The distinctive vocabulary or language of a profession, group or class.
From the time I was young, vernacular, as I suppose you would call it, has interested me. I first took notice in the words my extended, and very Polish family spoke; words that were not spoken in our everyday life. There are many examples, but the first one that comes to mind is my grandmother referring to her couch as “the davenport”. When I asked my parents why, I was just told that different people used different words. Well, ok then.
When we moved to the town I consider “my hometown” when I was 11, I was first introduced to the term “Duh”. The kids I went to school with inserted it in just about every sentence. “Duh, I forgot my homework!” “And then I was like ‘OH DUH!!’” “Duh” was probably more widespread than I had realized at the time, however coming from a strict catholic school with children who were sheltered it was probably the least offensive of the words that I learned that year which I had never heard before.
The language of the town we live in now, is something else. If you are an old school townie—like my father-in-law, the words “this, that and the” are pronounced “dis, dat and da”. This phenomenon is actually something my husband is sometimes a party to (when he’s not paying attention) having lived in this town for more than half of his life. You won’t hear people say “Those are good cookies!” but instead “Them (or dem as it may be) are good cookies!” Sandwich is pronounced “sandridge” or “sanrich” and you will often hear “batteries” pronounced as “bat-trees”. You don’t go out for a fish fry; you “go for a fish”. The biggest thing is the use of “ain’t it” at the end of a sentence or in completely odd context. It is typical in our area to hear something like this: “We need to get some milk from the store, ain’t it?” Or in a conversation between 2 people: Person A says “That guy comes around here a lot” and Person B will respond “Ain’t it?” Seriously. Hub and I started inserting it in to our conversations years ago because we thought it was hysterical, and now, it is kind of second nature to us….regardless of how incredibly wrong it is.
You notice things like this in your travel as well. When we were in New Hampshire on our honeymoon, there were many, but the one that sticks out is people saying “How you are?” (or in the NE accent, “how you ahhhh?”) instead of “How are you.” When my brother lived in PA last year he was appalled at the dropping of “to be” in most sentences. People would say “the car needs washed” or “the dog needs walked” or my personal favorite, “the laundry needs done.”
Today I put the call out to you who live all over this country and Canada, those of you who have traveled extensively, or any of you that want to respond. Blow my mind with what you have heard. Better yet, blow my mind with what you have said!