Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 13:37:03 -0500


Subject: Re: regional differences

One that always gets me in trouble is, as a native Southerner I say to a

Northerner or a Midwesterner (or any other American for that matter), "Do

you want a Coke?" and they say no, but then sit there and wish for a

Sprite or something, tea maybe. What I meant was, "So you want a soft drink or

anything at all to drink?" Or if I'm going to the vending machine for a

group, I'll say, "What kind of Coke do you want?" and people will give me

the strangest looks. I *try* not to do that, but if I get to feeling

comfortable, I forget.

Oh, and people often seem completely unaware of the variable temporal

length of "fixing to." "I'm fixing to go" does not necessarily mean within

the next few minutes (or even half hour). Of course it could mean that.

I also have been cautioned by Northeastern and West Coast friends

(WASP-types) that it is rude, or at least can appear nosy, to inquire after

people's mamas, as in "how's your mama and them?" People apparently don't

all bring their families into their cognitive work world. Some told me

it's rather elitist, not a sign of civil concern (as in we're all

supposed to be seen as indivduals, family-free?) to ask about people's family

backgrounds (as in "who's your mama and them"). My friends said only people

who were concerned with your pedigree would ask this question and therefore

that people will take it wrong, as if you're trying to "sniff them out." Is

this true?



Shana Walton

Mississippi Oral History Program

University of Southern Mississippi


(601) 266-5606