As the saying goes, “You can take the girl out of West Virginia, but you can’t take West Virginia out of the girl.”
I was reminded of this recently when I told a friend I’d be with her in a minute because I had to go "fetch my car keys."
“You have to WHAT your car keys?”
“Fetch them. You know, I have to go get my keys.”
“Why didn’t you just say that?”
“Because where I come from, that’s how we say it.”
“Well, you live in Ohio, now. Talk right.”
I started thinking about all the colloquialisms I heard growing up. I no longer say “poosh, boosh, feesh and warsh” instead of “push, bush, fish, and wash.” But sometimes I catch myself saying that I walked down by Yellow Crick, and people look at me funny.
That West Virginia accent is something left over from 16th century Elizabethan English and 18th century colonial English when the settlers were decades away from the motherland. They pronounced words phonetically. Instead of saying they were going up the hollow, they said, “I’m going up the holler to see my granny.”
Can you imagine the uproar if Washington Irving had named his classic, scary story, “The Legend of Sleepy Holler?" Takes the fright right out of it.
Sometimes, I’ll ask my sweetie for a smooch, and he never disappoints me. A kiss is what I get. When we go grocery shopping, I’ll grab a buggy while everyone else is tooling around with a cart.
And when the cashier bags my groceries, I have to stop myself from asking for a poke. She might just punch me!
When my youngins — I mean my children — were small, they got a kick out of hearing relatives talk about buying new peelers for the bed or how they attached the garden hose to the spicket.
For a while, I acted as the translator every time we visited family in the Mountain State.
Ohioans and Pennsylvanians aren’t exempt from creative language, either.
In the Buckeye state, you might hear someone ask “Chubinuptu?” Translation: “What have you been up to?” In Pennsylvania, they are always “redding up” the house, but they never change the colors because what they’re talking about is housework.
Another Ohio phrase, “put that up,” means “put it away." And when you’re finished, get out the sweeper, because you may need to vacuum the rug. If you’re taking something home with you, it might need to go in the “boot” or trunk of your car.
And you might spend the weekend visiting the Jake. I was relieved to find out that’s another name for the baseball park in Cleveland. In some parts of West Virginia, the Jake is another name for a toilet.
That’s something to think about the next time you’re looking out the winder at the purdy sunrise.
If you’re fixin’ to go to church, be sure and wear your nice britches.
And don’t forget to warsh your face!