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

Lively family discussion at the McCoy home

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 spade (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

5 Replies to “They Like The Way We Talk | Southern Idioms and Political Correctness”

  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”. 😉

      1. 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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