Twanglish Lesson: Tar

Sometimes it’s not easy coming up with new Twanglish Lessons. The homogenized TV-speak that has infected most of our speech since early childhood has a way of blocking out the best Twanglish phrases in your memory. Sometimes you have to spend time around family to mine their speech for new lessons. Sometimes inspiration can be found in a classic Southern book or movie. Other times, you just sit back and let your mental exhaustion overwhelm you and figure out how best to describe it in Twanglish.

That’s the case with today’s Twanglish Lesson. The last few weeks have been very busy for us here at RSM. The end of summer and the start of a new school year has all of us a bit distracted. We’re all pulled in a hundred different directions at once. Frankly, we’re just plum tarred:

Tarnoun 1. a sticky, black petroleum substance, either naturally occurring or man-made; 2. a round, rubberized casing that is fitted to a metal wheel and inflated to ease and cushion transport:

Daddy got some new tars up at the Walmarts.

verb 1. to coat a person or thing with tar; 2. to grow weary or exhausted

adjective 1. a condition of weariness or exhaustion:

I’m so tarred I could near ’bout die.

Synonyms: give (out), tucker (out)

verb 2. to rip or rend:

I’mo tar him a new one if he don’t git these tars replaced.

Ah, so versatile, so multi-faceted!

Only in the South could one get “tarred of driving new tars on old tar, cause it keeps tarring them up.” You say that to a Yankee, and you’re likely to cause his or her head to explode. We may not always talk fast, but we’ve got to think fast just to parse every possible meaning of what the speaker just said and then formulate an appropriate response.

One of the beauties of Twanglish is its ability to take three or four distinctly different English words and merge them into one all-purpose, Swiss Army Knife of a Twanglish term. It’s the great irony of Twanglish that we drop syllables from one word and add them to another. We reduce the number of distinct words, as is the case with “tar,” while creating complex phrases and idioms to express simple concepts. I guess in those ways, Twanglish is no different from its sister language, English: simply complex. But Twanglish complicates its simplicity with style!

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