Do you grok?

What if I said, "Tha sumbeetch sulled up on me."

Sure. "Tha sumbeetch..." is a colloquialism and should be used with a light hand, but what about "sulled up"? I was surprised to learn that not only is it apparently a recent addition to our language but it's very localized regionally.

What if I said the mesteno sulled up? ...probably not a fair question for anyone who's not old-school southwestern.

I love listening to Red Stegall, not just his music but his poetry as well. It's full of good old western flavor that you can't really find too many places any more, except maybe in some of Marty Robbin's old cowboy ballads.

Does it still mean the same thing it did a few years ago, if you pull out the makins and roll a quirly?

These dialects and flavors be used to define cultural differences and locales in other-world locations? Is there anyone who doesn't know how TANSTAAFL works?

I love the flavor sprinkled in - these are the things that really make it sound like home, but at the same time I know we can't alienate non-local readers. Where do you draw the line?


L.A. Mitchell said...

Okay, the only one I understood here was "sumbeetch." Translations, please :)

Leah Braemel said...

I'm with l.a. I got the sumbeetch. The sulled up I only know because you asked me if I knew what it meant the other day. The rest? You could be speaking Greek - or Klingon - as far as I knew.

So what the heck are makins and how do you roll a quirly? And I don't think I'm familiar with how to work a TANSTAAFL.

I guess that's similar to when I had my heroine tugging on her toque and had a lot of people *cough*BlueSue*cough* asking if she was wearing some sort of French cake on her head. I had no idea that was a Canadian only word.

Becky Burkheart said...

HAHA! Yes about the toque, but you have to admit, it wouldn't be unlikely for him to have been dribbling icing over her ;)

I also remember last time I went to dinner with an Italian - they found it vastly amusing that I confused some type of pasta for a pastry. I can't even remember now what it was.

TANSTAAFL - Heinlein, as is grok, but we live it one way or another every day.

also, an update - 'quirly' is a common name for a Quirley (like fridge for Frigidaire k/Kleenex)

K.M. Saint James said...

It really is a local thing (if your from my part of Texas that would be thang), isn't it?

My belief has always been . . . a little bit goes a long way.

I read a multi-published author years ago who used ya'll in almost -- no joke -- line of dialogue. Even though I hear the expression a thousand times in a week, I didn't want to keep reading it. And certainly not ever character would have used that expression as this author wrote it.

But for one special character, who you want to be instantly recognizable, I love the dialect. That character just can't speak much or it becomes distracting.

great topic.
Happy writing today.

Becky Burkheart said...

>>My belief has always been . . . a little bit goes a long way.

One thing I have noticed that I like is the use of 'local flavor' or cultural words and phrases (like toque or sulled up) more than dialect like ya'll or sumbeetch.

I've been reading the new Genghis book (Conn Iggulden) and thought he did a good job working in culturally specific words without over-using them or using much (if any) dialect.