Twanglish Lesson: Hosepipe

Today’s Twanglish Lesson was suggested by RSM reader Garrett Doss, who has found himself the object of ridicule from Northerners when using this term. He tweets:

“@RealSouthernMen Why do all my n’thrn friends laugh when I say ‘hosepipe’. What else could it be?”

Good question, Garrett. And it’s one best answered in a self-indulgent anecdote…

In a high school psychology class, I recall learning about cultural differences in language. (What that had to do with Freud wanting to sleep with his mother, I’ll never know.) One category of terminology that seemed to have the most regional diversity was that of water delivery systems.

Some people drink from a fountain, other freaks from a bubbler. (We’re looking at you, Great Lakes region.) Some folks use a faucet, others a spigot.  Then there was a term, attributed to the South, that I simply refused to believe. Surely the culturally biased Yankee authors were trying to make us sound like rubes to justify their own feelings of intellectual superiority.

Then I went to college and met students from other parts of the South. And they all said it! For whatever reason, inland Southerners don’t call it a garden hose or a water hose (as we did along the Gulf Coast.) They call it something else entirely:

Hosepipenoun 1. A long, flexible tube or hose used for miscellaneous household purposes including watering, feeding garden sprinklers, separating amorous dogs or teenagers and providing lukewarm refreshment during mid-Summer backyard games:

Fetch me that new hosepipe we brung home from the Walmarts so I can warsh the tractor.

Sure it’s redundant and a bit of an oxymoron all at the same time. (Is it rigid like a pipe or flexible like a hose?) Perhaps it’s just plain brilliant. It’s a pipe that has hose-like flexibility! How that is different from a hose, we don’t know. But when you’ve worked up a sweat on those 90-90 days (90 degrees and 90 percent humidity) nuance is unimportant. There’s no better way to quench that thirst than with a hot swig of tap water from a hosepipe.

6 Responses to “Twanglish Lesson: Hosepipe”

  1. You know, I never heard the term “hose-pipe” where I grew up (in North Georgia…we called it a water hose) but always heard it from from SC family and then when I moved to SC heard it all the time! LOL Love the Southland!

  2. Small world! My husband is a Cherokee County native as well. He grew up in the northern end of the county in a spot in the road called Ball Ground (yes, Ball Ground, GA). I grew up even further north (actually in the town where the Atlanta Weather men would come to show everyone the amazing “winter wonderland” anytime there was a snow flurry) in Pickens County.

    • I suppose you know about the Ball Ground “Rock Man,” then. (Talk about a subject for a write-up on the site.) Kris Wheeler is the publisher from that neck of the woods. He’s from the Free Home-Lathemtown area, though I think his address is technically Ball Ground now.

  3. … And we Southerners can drink “tap water”, cause our water is the freshest, cleanest, purest water, straight from the hosepipe. Sigh. I miss Southern aquifer water.

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