Thursday, July 13, 2006

Language Barrier

At the giant grocery store in town, I met up with a woman who lives in the same holler as we do. She asked me how I was getting along so far.
“So far, pretty well, thank you,” I said.
“He’s Frainch, ain’t he?”
“He is.”

I am 43% Dixie. Barely in Yankeedom.

Find out how much of a cracker YOU are.

“He’s a right nice fellow. [pronounced ‘rat nass fella’. I’ll attempt to reproduce her accent from here on.] He he’ped us rise up a fayunce whan ars blowed dahn from thet flud – thet wuz prolly afore yore tahm.”
“Your fence?” I asked, just to make sure I was hearing her correctly.
“Yep, ar bob-wahr fayunce. We dun’t aksed him tew, he jes’ shown up and pitched on in. Steady fella. Wukked all affanoon inta th’evenin’.”
“He’s very helpful,” I said.
“Yew speak any Frainch yusself?” she asked.
“A bit,” I replied, “though I can’t really keep up if two native speakers are talking to each other.”
“Yew like Bottled-air?” she asked.
“Bottled air?”
“Yep, mah folks lef’ me some book o’ his’n, Ah dunno mebbe y’all’d like t’take it. Ah cain’t read a bit own’t.”
I racked my brain. Bottled air … bottled air … What could this woman be talking about?
“What’s it called?” I asked. “The book?”
Flahrs o’ Evil, I thaink, in Ainglish.”
“Baudelaire!” I cried, in realization. “The Flowers of Evil!”
“Wail, shore! Whut’d yew thaink Ah sayd?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I laughed. “But sure, I’d love to have a copy of it in French.”

11 comments:

super des said...

that makes me laugh so hard I cry. Great job with the accent. I read it aloud to my boyfriend and he cried too. Though he guessed Baudelaire before I finished the story.

And you two were speaking Ainglish, were you?

Lowry said...

It took me a second to keep up with that accent you reproduced. I, too, know some french, but natives would lose me easily.

I'm off to read some more of your posts now.

maryse said...

well I could not understand very much of this accent - but ... no native french speaking peoples would loose me :P lol

Cardman said...

Being from the most non-cracker background I can think of, that was a tough read. But great just the same. Why do people say "y'all" when there's only one of you? If someone said that to me, I'd be looking around and behind me to see if there were more people I'd forgotten about.

the Yearning Heart said...

cardman - She wanted us to have the book, so she asked, "Y'all want it?"

I don't know anyone who uses "y'all" for the singular. It might happen, but it hasn't in my limited experience.

Romancing Simplicity said...

For me, keeping up in that conversation would have been much more difficult than two native French speakers. LOL bottled air =)

introspectre said...

That's so cute. I could read your version of her accent perfectly, after living in the deep South for 11 years.

It weren't Tayxays, bu' then'gain, y'all pra'bly dough'ts say "y'ins" neithah.

introspectre said...

Oh- and after reading your comments, yes, I must say "Y'all" is used quite frequently in the singular, although it is assumed that you are not just ONE person but that you are part of your kin, church group, hollah, whatever.

And for translation purposes, "Y'ins" is used in the same way. The way it was said to me was, and I qoute...

"Y'ins yahrd looks reheal nice, I like whut y'ins do'un to it!"
Although I was alone, potting flowers near the mailbox.
That is a dialect perhaps only heard in Appalachia, I'm not sure. Y'ins don't go qoutin' me on it, now, hear?

the Yearning Heart said...

'Y'ins' is extremely common in Pennsylvania; I heard it in Pittsburgh.

"How y'ins doin' at this table?" the waitress asked, before dropping the check. Etc.

Oddly enough I have seen it spelled 'ynz', too.

SeaRabbit said...

Oh... this is very cute... just love the bottled air... lololol... and I wouldn't find it without you writing it properly... ;-)))

introspectre said...

38% Dixie. You are definitely a Yankee.

And after eleven years in the South! Geez!