Thursday, October 25, 2007

Might could

I grew up in the South.

There are certain expressions and phrases that I've used all my life and never thought twice about until I left the South and someone would tease me or comment about it. (I drive copyeditors crazy - they just don't "get" some of that Southern speak.)

One of those expressions is "might could" - as in: I might could go to the movies with you tonight. I'll have to ask my mama.

Last night I was reading One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty, and got a kick out of the following passage:

The school toilets were in the boys' and girls' respective basements....A friend and I were making our plans for Saturday from adjoining cubicles. "Can you come spend the day with me?" I called out, and she called back, "I might could."

"Who said MIGHT COULD?" It sounded like "Fe Fi Fo Fum!"

We both were petrified, for we knew whose deep measured words those were that came from just outside our doors. That was the voice of Mrs. McWillie, who taught the other fourth grade across the hall from ours.

...."If I ever catch you down here one more time saying MIGHT'll be kept in every day for a week! I hope you both are sufficiently ashamed of yourselves."

Saying MIGHT COULD was bad, but saying it in the basement made bad grammar a sin. I knew that Presbyterians believed that you could go to Hell.


Megan Germano said...

I am now reading the Aurora County All-stars and I just made the connection for the name of the dog... Eurdora Wetly. (Good ole Youdoggie) I think I remember that you have read this book, if not, laugh anyway, it is funny.

Kerry Madden said...

You have the best blog, Barbara! And I grew up hearing "might could." I love the excerpt. I read your other one on abuse...In Jessie's Mountain, the Livy Two gets threatened by Uncle Buddy with "a box and five nails" - which is hand print smack on the leg...wonder if there will be a reaction? And listening to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, there was spankings and talks of "Atticus said he would wear me out" - it was just the way then...thanks for putting that up.