Posted by: episystechpubs | August 12, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Fixin’ to revisit a few things

Hey, all y’all! My little foray into the language of the South certainly stirred up some stories. Here are a couple of additional lessons I received from some of my favorite subscribers. I have left out names to protect the innocent. Thank you so much for continuing my education!

· Regarding some of her Alabaman kin:

“Fixin’ to” is one I use myself in speech, although I don’t believe I’ve used it in the written word. I heard “used to could” in a Jeff Foxworthy routine, and, I think I’ve heard it elsewhere as well. One my cousins use a lot is “I reckon” when we would say “Yes” or “I suppose so.” Another that really tickles me, although, like “I reckon” it isn’t necessarily incorrect, just different, is “mash” the button (where we would say “press” or “push”) or even “mash the gas pedal”. They also “cut on” and “cut off” the TV or the lights, and they “crank” the car.

· On the triple modals, or stacking, if you prefer, I’ll give you an example of when oughta is usually thrown in to the mix.

Say, for instance, that you’re at a party, and your old boyfriend shows up—and he looks really hot. Your best friend looks at you and says “You might shoulda kept him.” I would probably look back at her and say, “I might oughta should’ve.“

But it’s too late now, and besides, your husband is walking across the room with a drink in his hand for you, and he’s not aware that there is an old boyfriend of yours at the party. Then your friend again looks at you and says, “You need to tell your husband before someone else tells him you and Bobby used to be an item. You might could explain that you were the one who broke things off with Bobby and that might could make him feel less riled up about it.” And you whisper sarcastically to your best friend, “Well, it oughta should!”

· I think I found your “fixin’ to” etymology. My Google-fu is strong. (D.M.)

The earliest example in writing is by an American-born colonist, Col. Benjamin Church, who fought in the First Indian War in the late 1600s. In his account of the conflict, History of King Philip’s War (1716), he wrote: “He fixes for another Expedition.”


[KC – What?! Could it be? A person named Church is credited with the first written example of using “fix” to mean
get ready or prepare? Okay. I’ll try to use it at least once a year in honor of this potential relative.]

· Here’s a lesson several of you sent to this ignorant West Coaster:

· And the best advertising campaign I saw:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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