August 30, 2013
Bill McClellan is a columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and he has a Thursday night talk and call-in show on Public Television. He mentioned last night that the state of Missouri is divided into those who say Missouree and those who say Missouruh. He implied that the Missouruhians were the unwashed, the Tea Party and the nut jobs. He was speaking tongue-in-cheek—that’s his style.
But it made me think. In Chicago, a carbonated, sugared beverage is a pop. In Upsouth Illinois, a pop is a soda. In deep Southern Illinois a soda is a sodee, as in, “Hayee, hun, whant ye a sodee a’fer y’all go-nuh fission?”
Presenting my cast of characters and how they say Missouri. Farmers B. and Orville, plus Hummingbird Man, Dexter and the ‘Beat the Heat’ Lady: Missouruh. Orville’s wife Quilt Queen, Bob the Navaho artifact collector, Wide-hipped Woman, the Gut Doctor, and my coterie of tweens and teens: Missouree. As for Hawk-faced Man, who has yet to speak to me, I cannot say. Certainly he is in misery. If he crossed the bridge he’d be in misery in Missouri.
How Farmer Orville can talk Upsouth and his love Quilt Queen speaks the king’s English and they get along is beyond me. I imagine their breakfast patter: “Orville, would you like some more coffee?” “Reckon Ahm coffeed ou-yet.” “What are you going to do this morning?” “Hoh, pick tuhmaters.” “Don’t get too hot, dear.” “Whon’t.” “Wear your cowboy hat.” “Whill.” “I’m driving across the bridge to Missouree for cheap gas.” “Tell Missouruh hay fer me.”
The trick to the Missouruh crowd is to make one syllable words into two. “Won’t” is “wo-unt.” “Dare” is “dayer.” “Yes” is “yayess”.
“Lets-i call-uh th’ who-leh thang aw-fuh.”