Now that we’ve gotten past our 15 minutes of fame (or was it infamy?) brought on by being wantonly slanderized in The New Yorker, it’s time to get back to the business of “reveling in the New South and wrasslin’ with the Old.” And what better way to do that than a new Twanglish Lesson?
We here at RSM are fascinated with the depth and breadth of the Official Language of the South. It ain’t just “ain’ts” and “y’alls,” y’all. Nowhere does the creativity and diversity of Twanglish display itself more prominently than in nicknames, especially the nicknames we use for our grandparents.
Many are derivatives of “Grandma” and “Grandpa” – starting of course by adding a “w” to the end of each of those. We Southerners never met an “ah” than we didn’t round out to an “aw.” I think it’s because we don’t stop talking until our mouths are closed. To cut off a sound with the mouth still agape seems wasteful. It’s just good stewardship, really.
The most interesting grandparental nicknames, however, drift far afield of anything that resembles sensible … or even respectful. When my wife was expecting our first child, I joked that we’d teach our daughter to call my parents “Bonely” and “Squatnutter” … because those names made about as much sense as some of the ones you’ll see here.
We asked our readers on Twitter and Facebook to share with us the names for their grandparents. Here are their responses. Enjoy!
(And don’t forget to add yours to the comments below.)
Of Grannies and MeMaws, Grandaddies and PawPaws
Maternal Grandparents: Grandmother & Grandaddy, Paternal Grandparents: Granny Wright and Grandaddy Wright, Maternal Great-Grandparents: Granny and Grandaddy (could get confusing bc they lived right next to each other), Other Maternal Great-grandparents (yep, knew them all) -Mo Mo and Pawpaw. My kids call their grandparents Granny, Nana, and Pawpaw. -Wendy Wright Clark
Mawmaw and Pawpaw (on mom’s side… wasn’t close to the other ones.) My kids call their grandparents Mawmaw and Pawpaw (dad’s side) and Grammy and Pawpaw (my side.) -Jenn Kirby
One set was Mamma Doris and Pop and the other was Grandmamma and Granddaddy. -Ned Boggan
I only actually knew one grandparent, but my dad had foster parents that I regarded as my grandparents. They were MeMaw and PawPaw. My mom’s mother was Granny. Our kids call/ed their grandparents Granny & PaPa, and GrandMaw & PawPaw. -Kelli McCall Franklin
I had a MawMaw/PawPaw and a Grandmomma/Granddaddy -Chez Knox
Pawpaw and granny – Mallory Tew
GranGran and MawMaw -Laura Knight
I had a Ma & Pa, a Meemaw & Peepaw, a Memaw Ruth, and a Memaw Wallen. My daughter has a Mimi, a Grammy, and two Grandpas. -Nicklaus Louis
Paternal – Papa and Granny Lovell. Maternal – Peepaw and Meemaw Franklin -Darryl L. Lovell
My parents are PawPaw and Nana. His parents are Poppie and Nannie. -Katrina Pickering
We only had our maternal grandparents whom we called Poppa (grandmother) and Poppy (grandfather) -Tommy Tyler
One set was called Papa, and Moma T. The other set was called Paw Paw and Maw Maw -Kurt Lee Wheeler
I got a great Big Momma
I have relatives that called their grandparents Big Mama and Big Daddy. -Kelli McCall Franklin
Mine were called Nanny and Pawpaw and a great grandmother called Big Momma -Kimberly Taylor Torchia
Paternal: Bigdaddy and Bigmama, Maternal: Grandma and Granddaddy. -Rick Williams
Is that your surname or your Christian name?
Mamaw Rose and Pop Rose (we called them both by my grandmother’s first name, poor man), and Mamaw Lawrence and Poppaw Lawrence (my grandparents’ last name). – Deborah Jones Krauss
Father’s side: Mammaw and Pappaw. Mother’s side: Daddy Jim and Ruth. My grandmother Ruth lived with us. She was very proud to be a grandmother … but didn’t want to be called anything in particular. She wasn’t going to give herself a name and stated as her oldest grandchild, that I would decide on her name. I picked up on everyone calling her by her middle name, so she remained “Ruth”. Despite the fact that it is her given name. To her grandchildren it has the same endearing quality for us as “Grandma” would for anyone else. -Lisa Simison
My paternal grandfather died when my dad was 12, so there never was a grandparent name for him. My maternal grandfather’s nickname was Cy, after Cy Young (my grandfather played semi-pro ball, apparently in a similar style, although off the field he was kind, gentle, and soft-spoken). We kids called him “Pappy Cy.” My grandmothers were “Mama Lucy” (paternal) and “Mama Louise” (maternal). -Ginny Hall
Grandmother…for one, didn’t know my dad’s Father. Mama Jess and Pop Homer on Maternal side. -Lee McBride
Always full ‘Grandmother’ and then their first names. At one point I had 3 on my mom’s side! Never met my maternal grandfather, but yankee step-grandfather was ‘grandpop’ and paternal was ‘Pa’ – I couldn’t say ‘Grandfather.’ -Beth Sanborn
By their first names, that is the way I was raised. They did not want to be known as grandparents. -Tim Rose Mitcham
Grandma/Grandpa, Memaw/Papa Bill, Papa/Lela, Mama Gladys/Papa Burly -Tamme Phipps Seale
Umm… What was that again?
Florrie & Bootsie (maternal), Mama Ditty & Pop Bond (paternal). I plan to be named something grand: open to suggestions. -Lynn Sherrill Bush
I had a great-grandmother I called Bom-Bom, and grandfather called Bo. -Karen Solomon