A Conversation for The American South

Southern hospitality

Post 1

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

I was surprised that there was little discussion on the higher standards for polite behavior in the South.

For instance, it is perfectly normal for people in the street, in grocery stores, and sitting on their porches to greet you and attempt to start up a conversation. This is especially true in small towns.

Also, you see a lot more use of phrases like, 'Thank you,' 'You're welcome,' 'Bless you,' and 'Pardon me, ma'am.' Such phrases are ruthlessly drilled into Southern children, and so visitors may be perceived as rude if they are less polite.

Finally, chilvalry is considerably more alive in the South than elsewhere in the US. Men more often open doors (and car doors) for women, help to seat them at the table, and even occasionally lay their coats over a puddle for a particularly attractive young lady. This is not to say that all Southern men behave this way, but some certainly do.

Southern hospitality

Post 2

Saint Taco-Chako (P.S. of mixed metaphors)

Absolutely true. You can, in fact, always tell a tourist by the way he DOESN'T hold doors open for women. And virtually everyone will at least give you a nod and a smile for performing this service.

Southern hospitality

Post 3

Universal Mote

One thing to consider about southern politeness, is the fact that many of my "kin" have weapons.
It is very easy to be polite with a shotgun, 22 rifle or numerous handguns behind every door.
(This is definately a civilizing factor)
smiley - winkeye
Perhaps the reason why southern gentlemen are considered "gallant" is because southern women are "easy on the eye".
( wolf whistle inserted here!)
The life philosophy of both men and women in the southern U.S. is different from most of the rest of the country. Since the south has less population, consequently more time is spent "communing with nature."
This leads to a slower lifestyle and a deeper appreciation of ones fellow human being.
Also...a babbling creek or a view from a mountain top, restores the soul, and takes one's mind off of the "rat race" of existance.
Wow...this almost sounds mystical ...I think I will go shoot a tree rat...(squirrel)
smiley - winkeye

Southern hospitality

Post 4

Researcher 128836

I mean no disrespect, but I believe it is possible that stereotypes and preconceived ideas can at times supercede fact (at least for a time). I believe there is a danger of that here.

Southern hospitality

Post 5


I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Southerners do not say and have not ever said "you-all", we say "y'all". In almost every representation, written, film, or other, that I have seen, the former has been presented rather than the latter. This entry doesn't have that problem, seeing as it ignores the dialect(s) altogether (though, come to think of it, any entry on the Southern way of speaking would be so long as to require a separate entry smiley - smiley)

Just as a side note, in my school this year we had three German exchange students, and I am particularly proud of the fact that we taught them the proper use of the word "y'all". smiley - smiley

Southern hospitality

Post 6


In my corner of Tennessee, "y'uns" is used in place of "y'all". Also, an East Tennessee accent is distinctive - not like any other Southern accent.

I might add: up North they don't know what sweet tea is. Also - I only have the barest trace of an East Tennessee accent, but let me go to New York and it's the first thing they hear.

Southern hospitality

Post 7

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

I agree that we are in danger of mixing up stereotypes and reality.

In my experience, Southern women are not a great deal prettier than women elsewhere. Because of the warm temperature, they wear more revealing clothing (skirts, shorts, and sleeveless tops instead of blue jeans and sweaters). But if you put a bunch of Northern and Southern women in swimsuits, you can't usually tell which group is which.

A few Southerners do say "you all" in the same way a few Northerners and Westerners do. It's not a common phrase because it's awkward to say.

While there is a general Southern dialect, many portions of the South differ. In particular, New Orleans' Cajun dialect and south Florida's Spanish-influenced dialect bear little relation to the traditional Southern accent. The famous Texan drawl differs somewhat, and even within a state there is often a great difference between the southern-most and northern-most counties.

While more Southerners have guns than Northerners, most Southerners do not own guns. Those that do usually own hunting rifles, which is a reflection on the greater percentage of open space in the South.

Southern hospitality

Post 8

Saint Taco-Chako (P.S. of mixed metaphors)

Wow, that's... uh... virtually all wrong.

F'r starters, gun violence in the South is far lower than up north. We hunt, we don't walk around packing heat in our purses.

I actually do think Southern women tend to be prettier, but maybe they just work harder at it.

And no one in their right mind "communes" with nature. This is some kind of weird idea people pick up when they live in cities and have to stand in line to look at a tree. We don't walk around gazing meaningfully at trees. The closest thing to "communing" I've ever seen anyone do is fishing, and that's more on par with golf as a form of meditation.

Southern hospitality

Post 9


Just to set the record straight, the typical New Orleans accent is not Cajun. Cajun is generally spoken in the southwest part of Louisiana and in the deep southeast, or the toe of the boot. While there are Cajuns who have moved to New Orleans, the average New Orleanian's accent can range from typical Southern to an almost Brooklynesque accent. Oh, and if you ever find yourself around Chalmette, a suburb located east of New Orleans, you'll hear a language called "Yat" that has never been successfully duplicated outside the social laboratory known to outsiders as St. Bernard Parish, but known to locals as "Da Parish." It's a language replete with phrases like "How's ya mom-n-em," and "Let's go make groceries down by the Schwagmann's."

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