By John Mahoney
Folks from away sometimes laugh at the way we talk here in our Anglo/French/Yankee towns scattered along the border between Vermont and Quebec.
"Don't the locals sound funny," they'll say to the flatlander standing next to them. "What kind of talk is that?"
Flatlander, this here is English. Eastern Townships English. Border English. It's colorful, right to the point, and it's served us right well for 200 years. Here's a sampling from Lewis J. Poteet's book, Talking Country:
Boil it till it assholes. Vivid, visual technical direction for cooking maple syrup to make candy.
Bitch hook. All-purpose quick-release hook for use with tractor and chain. Tha name comes from a hole in one end of the slot in the long, central part of the device. After the hook is dropped over the towing mechanism, a chain may be pulled through the hole, then allowed to slide down the slot until it catches. When it is pulled back up to the hole, it releases quickly.
Breachy. A cow in heat.
Bung holes. Local term for brown sugar, cinammon, and butter spread on pastry (usually leftover pie dough), then rolled and baked. See also Nun's fart.
Clat. A verb, to describe a quick, rough job of cleaning. "I haven't time to wash the floor thoroughly today, so I'll just clat over it"
Crow storm. "You've got to have a few crow storms before you can have a snow storm"
Flatter than a plate of piss.
Frenchman's acre. Like the jag, this unit of measure is said to be "bigger when they buy, smaller when they sell."
Gant. "...so hungry that I'm gant."
We'll just keep that for the good that it has been. A decision-making crutch to justify keeping something too good to throw out and yet maybe not really worth keeping.
Horney-mones What makes a cow breachy.
Going over jackass hill. A widely used counry proverbial way to say that a person is a teenager.
Lazy as a cut dog. Simile deriving from the loss of the urge to fight or wander that results from the castration of a male dog.
Rum go, rummy go. An energetic exertion at any task.
Snug up. When lots of people are in a house and there aren't enough beds, they"snug up."
Squaw pee. One name for ginger beer, a summer drink, especially during haying.
Stay until the last dog is hung. To be the last to leave a gathering.
Stodge. To mix up and prepare a batch of bread, donuts, etc.
He couldn't whittle a plug to fit his own asshole. Said of an incompetent person.
Flatlander, it doesn't sound funny to us.
[ end ]
Talking Country can be ordered from Pigwidgeon Press.
Copyright © 1996 John Mahoney/Log Cabin Chronicles/5.96