by Michael Monks
THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
A project fifty years in the making has finally culminated with the addition of the word 'zydeco' to the Dictionary of American Regional English:
From the beginning the dictionary was the product of cutting-edge lexicographical science and on-the-ground research of unprecedented scope. From 1965 to 1970, 80 fieldworkers fanned out to 1,002 carefully selected communities across the country, many of them traveling in retrofitted Dodge vans nicknamed Word Wagons. Armed with a 1,847-item questionnaire and newfangled portable reel-to-reel tape recorders, they inquired about local ways of talking about everything from the weather and kitchen items to courtship and commerce, to say nothing of insulting terms for tramps, foreigners, loose women and lawyers.The New York Times
The project did include stops in Cincinnati as part of its study, but in Kentucky only made it as far north as Butler and Falmouth. Nevertheless, plenty of Kentucky vocabulary is included in the book:
If you start with the rastus and then use the corn drill, eventually the nubbin stretcher will come. Once that happens, it’s only a short wait until you’re using your hoecake turner, then making oodlins of corn pudding for everyone to enjoy. No more Kentucky oysters or Kentucky breakfasts with splo. The kids will be running in from the ridy-bob and the neighbors will be climbing over the post-and-rail fence just to try some.Covington tends to be more on the Yankee side, so if you need a translation, click here.
This thorough examination of American colloquialisms will be available in print next month, and until then is a thoroughly enjoyable way to waste an afternoon including audio samples and a quiz. Git to clickin', y'all!
Dictionary of American Regional English