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i come correct

August 19, 2010

People in the South tend to undervalue things, which is good to know before you go here. Either that, or they have no idea what the word creek means. It definitely does not mean a body of water so large you could float a barge down it, or not be able to walk across it without getting your sandal very wet or drowning.

Similarly, they do not know what a cottage is. If you hear a Southerner referring to something as “the main cottage” that thing is not a cottage. There is no such thing as a “main cottage” as the very definition of the word “cottage” precludes that structure from being the main of anything. A cottage is a place on a heath where a goatherd and a milk maid live together. A cottage is not a 3-bedroom 2 bath split level with an attached garage and vaulted ceilings. That is a house.

I don’t want to beat this point to death, but it has to be said that southerners do not know what a nettle is. Anyone who has grown up in the Pacific Northwest knows that a nettle is a pesky little plant that stings you if you touch it and leaves itchy little welts in its wake. So you can imagine my surprise when one day while cruising down a “creek” in a “skiff” called The Algonquin, I one of my shipmates started complaining about not being able to swim because the nettles were so bad.

Now, I had never heard of a nettle living under the water so I said rather plainly, “I’ve never heard of a nettle living underwater.” A good point I thought, but which was met with blank looks, and a somewhat sarcastic, “As opposed to what? Flying through the air?” Then everyone went back to what they had been talking about before. It was only hours later, after B pointed to a JELLYFISH and said, “Nettle.” Like a parent teaching a mentally challenged toddler, that I understood. In the south, a nettle that leaves itchy welts in its wake, is a jellyfish, not a plant that grows underwater.

What really confused me about this encounter wasn’t that there was one word with two different meanings, but how ready everyone was to dismiss the fact that I had said something as idiotic as, “I’ve never heard of a jellyfish living underwater.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 4:19 pm

    Haa, oh ram.

  2. August 19, 2010 6:44 pm

    When I moved to Cincinnati someone told me that she had had stuffed mango for dinner. Turns out some people here call what you and I know as a “green pepper” a “mango”.
    Please? (That’s what those people say instead of “What?”)
    I have learned that there is some legitimate reason for the green pepper/mango thing, but I think they should stop.
    Thank you. (That just means “thank you”)

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