Hey, y#039;all call somebody

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 8, 2001

Most of us have some words or phrases which are peculiar to us alone. For example, the title of this column came about because that phrase prefaces "unsolicited" opinions I so freely share with family and friends. It has become a joke at times, but I also have been reminded on more than one occasion that unsolicited also can mean unwanted.

There are regional speech differences that add unique spice to day-to -day conversation. When I moved to Alabama, I first heard the word &uot;onlyest&uot; as in, &uot;It’s the onlyest truck I own.&uot; I also encountered the possessive form of the Queen Mother of all southern words, y’all, when I heard the word y’allses. It would properly be used as: Is that y’allses only truck?’

In Tennessee I’ve heard again the old favorite &uot;youe’nze&uot; from a waitress who asked, &uot;Do you’nze know what you want?&uot; I’ve also heard about the &uot;haints&uot; in the Appalachian foothills cemeteries and the &uot;taints&uot; that abound in the high mountain areas closer to North Carolina. I’ve been told about a young man who &uot;hoped&uot; (helped) an elderly lady plow a garden spot and that he &uot;won’t&uot; (wasn’t) home when she went to take him some tomatoes. And so it goes from region to region. We find ways and words to communicate with those around us.

Email newsletter signup

During my five years of listening in Greenville, I must say that my favorite phrase is &uot;call somebody.&uot; I’ve heard it used by young and old and under the most extreme circumstances. Car trouble means you’re going to have to call somebody. Too much street noise late at night from young people and their music means that someone will most surely call somebody.

But by far the best use of the phrase I ever heard came late on a summer night. I was living in the old Martin house on Commerce Street, and the neighboring church was having a &uot;lock-in&uot; for the young members. Apparently the locks were not all that tight because the kids were making a human lane divider on Commerce Street by laying head to toe down the center line. The ever vigilant Greenville Police Department was quickly on the scene to disperse the youngsters. The officer was quite clear about how upset he was that such a thing could happen on his watch. After the youngsters were back inside the sidewalk perimeter of the church lawn, the officer confronted the adult in charge of the overnight gathering to express his displeasure with the illicit activity. After a few moments of talking, the officer drew himself up to his full six feet of height, tilted his back to look into the face of the church representative who stood at least a head taller and uttered those chilling words so full of gravity and implied power, &uot;Don’t make me have to call somebody!!&uot;

Now, I don’t know if the officer was speaking of calling his chief or the church’s Big Chief. But his message was quite clear.

The young folks were shooed back inside the church and there they stayed for the rest of the night. So if you’nze get into a situation that cannot be hoped any other way, pick up y’allses cell phone and call somebody. If you are lucky, the haints will not get you before help arrives.

Carolyn Clark McGinty is a staff writer for The Greenville Advocate.