Lively family discussion at the McCoy home

They Like The Way We Talk | Southern Idioms and Political Correctness

At a Christmas lunch with the extended family, our great
aunt was telling a story about her granddaughter’s career success and used the
idiom “work like a turk” in a complimentary
explanation of her granddaughters’s work ethic.

Just the week before I had used the same old-time adage and
wondered, “What does that even mean?” I called it to the attention of all at
the table. Nobody knew its origin. We all had a good laugh, then did what
people do now-a-days, Googled it. Even Google couldn’t definitively tell us.

Even though we couldn’t get a definitive definition, we
decided (in today’s world of political correctness) to remove it from our
vernacular along with others like: Indian-giver,
Jew ‘em down,
and Call a spade a
(which is actually referring to a hoe…not sure that’s any better!)

After careful assessment of my vocabulary, I decided that
I’m keeping Bull in a china shop, More than you can shake a stick at, and As easy as falling off a log. After all
I’m a Southerner, like Mark Twain, and colorful expressions, like cursing and
old idioms, are part of our language. It’s one of the reasons everyone wants to
be a Southerner…’cause they like the way we talk.

Even children have trouble with political correctness
Kerry McCoy with grandchildren Evy and Marshall


  1. Many of us use expressions that our parents used….having no idea what they mean or reference..
    Snug as a bug in a rug…..Uggg!

  2. Well I just think that’s mighty fine!! Not being an original southerner I must say I get a good laugh listening to you all talk… I might take the “micky out of you all sometime.. That’s British speak.. for poking fun… well bye now?. I

  3. Now I’m going to have to go google “Call a spade a spade”, since I’m not seeing why that would be inappropriate — I’ve always assumed it simply referred to a garden tool.

    1. I just found it:

      So, the original meaning of the phrase is exactly what I intend to convey when I say it, but in some areas of society, the perceived meaning is not. 🙁

      I’ll have to retrain myself — perhaps I’ll start saying, “call a fig a fig, and a trough a trough”. 😉

    2. Argh, it ate the link. Let me try again, with extra spaces, to see if the software will accept it as plain text:

      http : / / / sections / codeswitch / 2013 / 09 / 19 / 224183763 / is-it-racist-to-call-a-spade-a-spade

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