A newspaper columnist scurries into a library. She needs every book they have on Harry Houdini. She asks the librarian for help. “It’s for an article I have to turn in today.”
The librarian finds where the books are located and he leads the woman to the shelves to check out what they have.
They find the spot. They both stare at the shelves for a moment, then he turns to the columnist and says, “Looks like they have all disappeared.”
Endangered American Slang Needs Your Help
Won’t you consider adopting a word or two?
by Dani Spencer
If you’re from Delaware, Maryland, or Virginia and think having shat fall from your pinetrees is abnormal, then we have news for you: you are among the many Americans losing touch with your historical regional dialect. And let’s be frank: can our language, our literature really afford to lose fleech, fogo or goose drownder?
Okay, poop jokes aside, the Dictionary of American Regional English views the potential extinction of 50 American words and phrases as no laughing matter. DARE and the global podcasting platform Acast have joined forces and are starting a campaign to bring these colloquialisms back to “their former glory.” The game plan is for hosts of various programs on Acast’s network to start using these at risk words, in hopes that their millions of listeners will adopt them into their vocabulary.
This is not a bad strategy considering the growing popularity of podcasts in the U.S. The president of Acast, Karl Rosander, believes “learning through audio is a hugely effective educational method,” and “vummed” that there will be a vernacular revival.
And what about the written word? Well, readers, study up, make a point of using a few of these expressions in your own writing. Let’s all of us do Faulkner proud.
Here’s the full DARE list of endangered words and phrases:
Barn burner: a wooden match that can be struck on any surface. Chiefly Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Maryland.
Bat hide: a dollar bill. Chiefly south-west.
Be on one’s beanwater: to be in high spirits, feel frisky. Chiefly New England.
Bonnyclabber: thick, sour milk. Chiefly north Atlantic.
Counterpin: a bedspread. Chiefly south and south midland.
Croker sack: a burlap bag. Chiefly Gulf states, south Atlantic.
Cuddy: a small room, closet, or cupboard.
Cup towel: a dish towel. Chiefly Texas, inland south region.
Daddock: rotten wood, a rotten log. Chiefly New England.
Dish wiper: a dish towel. Chiefly New England.
Dozy: of wood, decaying. Chiefly north-east, especially Maine.
Dropped egg: a poached egg. Chiefly New England.
Ear screw: an earring. Chiefly Gulf States, lower Mississippi Valley.
Emptins: homemade yeast used as starter in bread. Chiefly New England, upstate New York.
Farmer match: a wooden match than can be struck on any surface. Chiefly upper midwest, Great Lakes region, New York, West Virginia.
Fleech: to coax, wheedle, flatter. South Atlantic.
Fogo: An offensive smell. Chiefly New England.
Frog strangler: a heavy rain. Chiefly south, south midland.
Goose drownder: a heavy rain. Chiefly midland.
I vum: I swear, I declare. Chiefly New England.
Larbo: a type of candy made of maple syrup on snow. New Hampshire.
Last button on Gabe’s coat: the last bit of food. Chiefly south, south midland.
Leader: a downspout or roof gutter. Chiefly New York, New Jersey.
Nasty-neat: overly tidy. Scattered usage, but especially north-east.
Parrot-toed: pigeon-toed. Chiefly mid-Atlantic, south Atlantic.
Pin-toed: pigeon-toed. Especially Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.
Popskull: cheap or illegal whiskey. Chiefly southern Appalachians.
Pot cheese: cottage cheese. Chiefly New York, New Jersey, northern Pennsylvania, Connecticut.
Racket store: a variety store. Particularly Texas.
Sewing needle: a dragonfly. Especially Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts.
Shat: a pine needle. Chiefly Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.
Shivering owl: a screech owl. Chiefly south Atlantic, Gulf states.
Skillpot: a turtle. Chiefly District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia.
Sonsy: cute, charming, lively. Scattered.
Spill: a pine needle. Chiefly Maine.
Spin street yarn: to gossip. Especially New England.
Spouty: of ground: soggy, spongy. Scattered.
Suppawn: corn meal mush. Chiefly New York.
Supple-sawney: a homemade jointed doll that can be made to “dance”. Scattered.
Tacker: a child, especially a little boy. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania.
Tag: a pine needle. Chiefly Virginia.
To bag school: to play hooky. Chiefly Pennsylvania, New Jersey.
Tow sack: a burlap bag. Chiefly south, south midland, Texas, Oklahoma.
Trash mover: a heavy rain. Chiefly mid-Atlantic, south Atlantic, lower Mississippi Valley.
Tumbleset: a somersault. Chiefly south-east, Gulf states; also north-east.
Wamus: a men’s work jacket. Chiefly north-central, Pennsylvania.
Whistle pig: a groundhog, also known as woodchuck. Chiefly Appalachians.
Winkle-hawk: a three-cornered tear in cloth. Chiefly Hudson Valley, New York.
Work brittle: eager to work. Chiefly midland, especially Indiana.
Zephyr: a light scarf. Scattered.
[Editor’s note: Similar article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/these-50-american-slang-words-are-in-danger-of-disappearing_us_57d2ba4ae4b06a74c9f423dd ]
Stuck in your story and don’t know where to go? Maybe this will help.
by David E. Booker
Locked Room Challenge
Among some science fiction writers there is a challenge known as the shortest story. Someone once said the shortest science fiction story was: “Last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” Then somebody else made it shorter by writing: “Last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a lock on the door.” Ernest Hemingway reportedly wrote the shortest story that went something like this: “Newspaper ad. For sale. Brand new baby shoes. Never used.”
What does this have to do with being struck?Maybe nothing, but maybe when you are, take your protagonist or even your antagonist and make him or her the last person on Earth. In a locked room. Then there is a knock on the door. What does he do? How does she react? Maybe it is a very small room and your character is already feeling very anxious because he hates being in confined spaces. Write out what your character would do. A few hundred words. Five hundred at most.
Or maybe your character reads the ad or has to place the ad. Why did he have to place the ad? Did he lose a child? Did she break up with a man who had a child and she can’t return the shoes because they are a discontinued brand, but she has to do something with them. Does she need the money? Maybe they were expensive shoes. Or maybe they were bought years ago and she forgot she had them still and is now moving and can’t take them with her.
Or think of a scene of your own. But it has to be a scene where an important decision has to be made and one that affects the character emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually – at least two of the three.
Often a writer is stuck because he doesn’t understand something about at least one of his characters, and doing this can help uncover a layer of the character that is important to the story. Who knows, what you write might even become a scene in the story or novel you are working on.