Wherever the Road Leads

In Language Limbo

Another After Effects project. Merry Christmas, y’all!! Yes, it cuts off short but if I had taken the time to make it as perfect as I would like it, I’d have to change the text to the Fourth of July.


This trip to Canada has been interesting. I seem to be, for the most part, over my culture shock from last winter and am much less of an Angry American. Not once so far has my cousin Doug told me, “Yankee, go home”.

I’ve been watching the local News on Toronto’s CTV affiliate, CFTO, channel nine. I definitely do notice some words that Canadians pronounce completely differently. The long “O” in ‘proe-duce’, ‘proe-cess’ and one that was pointed out to me recently. If I regret something, I pronounce the word, like most Canadians, ‘sew-ree’. “I’m sew-ree for your loss.”

I asked how a Southerner would pronounce it and was told it was a more open ‘O’, almost like saying ‘sari’ (the Indian garment). If the Indian woman’s garment was tattered, I suppose I would say that she is wearing a sew-ree sah-ree, whereas in Georgia it’s pronounced a sah-ree sah-ree.

The Canadian pronunciation of any word containing “ou” (mouse, house, louse, about, out) is very unique. In print it seems to be exaggerated as “hoose, oot and aboot”, though the words are truly not pronounced that way. Much like the stereotypical word “y’all” is not said that way either. Yes, it’s used prolifically, however when pronounced properly, ‘y’all’ does not rhyme with the word ‘doll’. It’s more along the lines of the word, ‘howl’, inasmuch as there’s nearly an extry syllable in there.

“Southern” is a unique language indeed. Some Southern I accept as normal and have incorporated a few words into my own speech.

Last Sunday I went to a different church – Wishing Well Baptist. The preacher began his sermon but something watten right. He was quoting familiar scripture but it ditten sound like it should. He said that the Archangel came down from Heaven and told Mary that she was with child. He must have been reading from the King James, eh? version. Every God-fearing member of the Southern Babbtist Conference knows that the scripture reads, ‘the Archangel said to Mary, “You’re fixin’ to have a baby.”

Southerners believe in contracting a contraction, thus ‘watten’ (wasn’t), ‘itten’ (isn’t), ‘ditten’ (didn’t). Various phrases are also contracted. Two sisters were reading a spreadsheet and making notes, but with only one pencil between them. One would make a note with the pencil and place it down beside her. The other sister would reach for the pencil, make her own note and place it close by her. This went back and forth until one proclaimed to the other, “Whaun’t you put the pencil in between us?”

An expression that I learned in the heat of this past summer, I had to think about for a while. It makes a lot of sense now and I quite like it. While standing in the air-conditioned comfort of indoors but looking out onto an inviting back deck on a glorious, though sweltering day, my suggestion of stepping outside was quickly nixed. “Honey, it’s so hot out there I wutten even offer to go out.”

When it comes to Southern words I thought I had pert near heard it all. Guess again.


I was having a conversation with a woman who shall remain nameless except to say that she feels she deserves credit for my Canadian Thanksgiving idea just because she thought of it.

I was explaining that my mother is so cheap that she recently had me check in the freezer to see how many frozen treats were left. There were two. She wants to save them for Christmas. A normal person, especially if one was a normal nearly-ninety-two year old might consider blowing the budget, enjoying them now, then buying another box of frozen treats for Christmas.

“After all, they’re just store-brand ice-cream-on-a-stick things, the ones dipped in chocolate. I don’t know what you call them.”

Very, very sheepishly came the reply, “We call them “hunkeys”.

“They’re called what?”

“Hunkeys. We’ve called them that all my life.”

A quick survey in the store the next day confirmed that every born-and-bred Southerner knew that an ice-cream-on-a-stick thing, dipped in chocolate, was called a ‘hunkey’. One woman commented her husband would say, “Darlin’, go to the freezer, bring me a hunkey.”

So this Christmas, my first one in Canada in decades, there may not be chestnuts roasting on an open fire, there may not be stockings hanging on the mantle, but there will be hunkeys… freezer-burn and all.

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  1. Mike G  December 17, 2014

    Man Gordon, everytime I see a new After Effects little banner of yours, it makes me want to go get it and learn how to do it. Soon, you will be designing them for big bucks! I can feel it.

  2. gordon  December 19, 2014

    Thanks, Mike! There’s an updated version where I got the music timed a little better…



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