Twanglish Lesson: Spell

Today’s Twanglish Lesson is yet another fine example of how we Southerners can take a common English word and Twanglicize it, giving it new layers of meaning.

Sure all English-speaking people know how to spell a word. Wait … let me take that back. All English-speaking people know that it is theoretically possible to spell words. Actually doing it properly (as anyone’s Facebook newsfeed will attest) is a totally different matter.

And we’ve all heard about the kind of spell that a witch or wizard might cast on someone to say, turn them into a toad or make them go see a Michael Bay film.  But we Southerners have our own types of spells: one good, one bad.

Spell noun 1. An undetermined period of time, typically applied to sitting:

Y’all rare back on that porch swang and sit a spell.

2. A periodic episode of ill-health, typically marked by faintness, shortness of breath or vertigo:

Oh, Lord, Mama’s done had one of her spells in the frozen foods at the Walmarts.

Only in the South could a bad spell lead to a recommendation to indulge in a good one. For that matter, it’s not unlikely that many a real Southern woman has had one of her spells because she invited guests to come sit a spell, and she ran herself ragged tending to them. Now that we think about it, the two types of Southern spells seem to be inextricably linked, one causing the other, leading back to the first in an effort to stave off a recurrence of the second. It’s like an endless time-like loop of cause and effect punctuated only by sweet tea and blood pressure medication. If there’s such a thing as Real Southern Sci-Fi, I think we just discovered the big idea at its rapidly beating heart.

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