Twanglish Lesson: (Talkin’ and Actin’) Ugly

Today’s Twanglish Lesson is a sober reminder of those days of long ago, a time when we were younger, firmer, shorter and had more hair. It was a time when we yearned to be grown, but were too stupid to realize we should relish being kids. When the height of sophistication was trying a salad dressing other than Thousand Island and acting like a man meant sneaking around and trying out some new words when our parents weren’t around.

Once in a while, when we were feeling our oats, we’d try out a watered-down version of our new favorite profanity in front of our parents, subtly weaving a “shoot” or a “God dang it” into our discourse. Few things bring swifter retribution than “talkin’ ugly.”

Uglyadjective 1. Insulting or derogatory 2. Crude, profane:

There weren’t no need for all that ugly talk in that movie, so I took it right back to the Walmarts.

-adverb 1. In a rude or profane manner:

If you don’t stop acting ugly and showing your butt, you can forget about them Moon-Pies and Grapico!

Our friends in cooler climes have yet again underestimated the power of language by limiting “ugly” to merely describing the physical attributes of a person or thing. Occasionally, an especially poetic journalist may speak of the metaphorical ugliness of war or the human condition. But they tend to dabble only in the global, universal aspects of ugliness.

That’s the difference between us and them. To a Southerner, ugly is personal, applying not only to appearance, but to behavior, speech and all aspects of a person’s being. It speaks to the heart of who we are that the most important government is self-government. If individuals can stop actin’ and talkin’ ugly, the world will be a much prettier place. Maybe we’re just viewing the world through Magnolia-tinted glasses, but we think it’s the only place to start.

7 Responses to “Twanglish Lesson: (Talkin’ and Actin’) Ugly”

  1. I do a Query page on my blog and I was interviewing a co-worker, who is from North Carolina, about expectations. We got to talking about what we expect from people in public and all the craziness we see around here (we’re an hour outside DC, not quite the North, not quite the South anymore – well, in my opinion). I said, “It’s not like we can snatch up some stranger child and give them what for.” (Okay, maybe we still lean a bit southward.) And she said, “Now down home I could do that…but not here!” I thought that was pretty interesting, culturally speaking. And it also got me thinking about manners and just behavior in general. I definitely feel that the further north I go, the less people exhibit the basic manners like simply saying thank you. The further south I go, the more common manners seem to be.

    So…thank you very much for this post, because now I understand that it all boils down to ugly. Now, if we can only get the word out – literally get the word out – then I think you’re right, the world would be a much better place. 🙂 Well, that and being able to snatch up stranger children to give them what for since their parents haven’t taught them the first thing about self-government.

    • You know, my wife and I have discussed this same issue with kids not respecting people because everyone has left it to the parents alone to hand out discipline. A dear lady in our church who recently passed away once asked some of our friends if they spanked their son. “Yes,” they replied sheepishly, worried they’d be getting a visit from DHR soon. “Well, you need to do it more with this one,” she said.

      As far as geography, my wife and I used to notice in our traveling that we could tell when we were back in the South by how people treated each other in the airport and by how attractive the women were.

      • Skippingstones June 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm

        Hah! You make me inclined toward the Southern, now more than ever. Though I have to wonder if the beauty of the women is in direct proportion to the warmth of the feelings you get from the place in general? Like beer goggles, only they’re southern hospitality goggles. (Did I mention my blog is a lot about questions? I can’t help it! You can consider this one a rhetorical question. It is enough that you find them beautiful.)

        But you have given me a new Query idea about disciplining other people’s children. I agree that something has been lost there. It really makes an impression when you’re told ()

  2. sorry – typing on phone is not so easy…
    when you’re told by a stranger (at least when you’re still very young) that your beyhavior is not acceptable. And let’s face it, some people are not prepared with the necessary skills to raise children with discipline and manners. Sad, but true.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Twanglish Lesson: Southern Cussemisms | Real Southern Men - July 1, 2011

    […] It’s difficult to say why cultures deem certain words as vulgar. Perhaps it’s due to classism, and those words originating in the slang of lower classes were seen as unfit for civilized discourse.  Others may be seen as especially defamatory, blasphemous or just plain crude. For whatever reason, it seems most civilized cultures have their own variety of “ugly words.” […]

  2. Uncommon Decency and the Southern Man | Real Southern Men - January 23, 2012

    […] me give you a simple rule to follow when faced with an opportunity to “act ugly:” Do unto others as you would have them do unto […]

  3. The Best of RSM: Southern Cussemisms | Real Southern Men - March 5, 2012

    […] It’s difficult to say why cultures deem certain words as vulgar. Perhaps it’s due to classism, and those words originating in the slang of lower classes were seen as unfit for civilized discourse.  Others may be seen as especially defamatory, blasphemous or just plain crude. For whatever reason, it seems most civilized cultures have their own variety of “ugly words.” […]

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