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Southern Business Terms


Preface: I had a group of clients coming from Chicago to a meeting in Atlanta. The meeting could have been little tense. So I prepared the following and handed it out before the meeting to slide into our discussions on what was hoped a more casual note. Hope you enjoy it as much as they did.

The following is a short list of terms used at times in business conversation south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It is provided as reference to eliminate potential confusion during our discussions.

--- happy as a pig in slop ---
(also know as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine)
(alternative expression grinnin' like a barrel full of possum heads)
Used in expressions of great joy. For example, when a salesman receives a large order from a customer his response might be That makes me as happy as a pig in slop. Following a successful meeting with a group of customers, a manager may remark, They left that meeten grinnin' like a barrel full of possum heads.

Whom'em upside the head.
First, this is a business strategy used to reach market with a new product before the competition. Second, it is a turn used by management indicating a common method used to gain employee and hold employee attention. Third, an expression used by football cheerleaders.

Twenty-eleven-dozen (also know as umpteen dozen)
This is a very large number.

--- chew th' fat ---
To discuss an issue. The term originated years ago when the Southerner learned that it was OK to eat almost anything, i.e. chitlens. They would sit around the supper table chewing these things as they talked.

--- smoke it over ---
A term used to buy time. Related to 'chew tha fat' but applied when the person needs time to come up with an answer.

--- lika duck ona Junebug ----
"Rapid Response" It is a clear statement that action will be immediate or acceptance of a solution is certain. The term was coined after observing the quick response from a duck going after one of those stupid insects hatched every June in the South that fly around bumping into everything and making big splats on your car windshield as you drive around in the evening.

Say whuut? (also known as Kill Who?)
An expression of surprise. It might be used when a customer requests an early product delivery date. A literal translation could be "Do you really want me to take that as a serious question?"

Note: In the South we often place emphasis on the first word or first syllable of a word, i.e. JA-cobs, HI-way, DOWN-yonder, SAY-whuut, PEAR-i-metr. This is done because only part of a word is often heard in our verbal melodic delivery.

We dun dun-it.
An expression denoting prior completion. It is a response we may use when a new feature is requested by a customer (and we have already completed the task) or may be used by your children when you tell them not to put the cat into the toilet.

Note: Grits is a Southern food made from corn. The corn is soaked in lye and swells up like a blister. It is washed, dried, then ground into a mix with the consistency of sand. When it is cooked, boiled in water, it is quite tasty but looks something like lumpy puss from a pimple.

Now jst hold ya grits!
This is an expression used to gain control of a meeting when two people have differing points of view. It brings attention to the fact that a person is loosing control and needs to step back from the situation (grits are hard to hold in your hands whether dry or cooked).

--- gooder'n grits ---
Denotes a positive feature. Grits are well received in the South and are used in preparation of many dishes, from eggs, to greens, to pok-chops, or just as a side dish to Sorghum syrup & buttered biscuits.

--- gooder'n snuff, and not half as dusty.
See gooder'n grits.

--- runin round lika chicken with it's head cut off ---
This term is used in two different context. First, it may be in reference to an Engineer who is very busy and on the verge of solving a problem. Second, it has been used to describe a manager who is not ready for a customer visit.

--- lika brick shithouse ---
Term used to denote a solid functional structure. Our modulators are often referred to as having been built this way. The term is also used in relationship to admiring the human anatomy.

Note: In the South we tend to run our words together in a slow melody, i.e. dout-no-nunen-bout-that. This is done to save time by saving words and to present bad news in a pleasant tone.

Damifino
This word was created by a southern lady when her betroth asked her who the father was. It is now used in general as a response to questions beyond one's area of expertise.

--- gonna stay onit like kudzu ---
This term is used to indicate a focused effort. It is the same as saying that nothing will pull attention away from the task and that nothing will stop forward progress of the task. (Kudzu is the flower of the South, growing where it wants to, when it wants to, and for as long as it wants to. Kudzu, a green vine, has been observed growing a full ten inches in 24 hours with roots as deep as thirty feet below ground. It is said growth can be stimulated even more by pouring motor oil over the plant (it greases the ground so the plant can slide faster). Whole cars have disappeared overnight when parked near a Kudzu patch.)

Note: In the South there is often reference to canine companions. It is believed the practice is used to be more hospitable to a person rather than referring to the person as stupid.

That dawg won't hunt.
This term is used as a negative response. Examples would be in response to a peer's proposed solution of a problem OR in reply to a customer's suggested converter purchase price.

--- egg suckin dawg ---
Denotes a negative feature. A hunting dog which chased its quarry, stops to trample on the nest breaking eggs, then licks up the yoke, is not considered of any value in the South. In this company, this term has been used when referencing General Instruments.

--- bout lika hound dawg ---
"Slow Response". A blood hound hunting dog is of great value for tracking escaped prisoners through a Georgia swamp but during a hot summer day a sleeping hound dog will not move even if an M80 goes off a foot away. This term has been used in reference to our I.T. group.

-- thickern flees on a dawg.
This term has been used as positive when referring to customer traffic at a successful trade show. It has been used as negative when referring to attention given by a consulting firm.

Does ya got the mainge?
This is a canine condition caused by a small inset that digs under the skin (not flees). The dog will scratch all the time and chew out the hair on his body, down to the skin. It can be recognized on a long haired dog when the dog looks as if it has been given a bad poodle cut by a drunk redneck. The question may be directed to a peer who seems to be out of sorts.

uh, Yel-O?
This is a telephone greeting. Translation today would be Hello, may I help you? Origin of the expression is a little fuzzy. One school of thought believes it was an expression used when the telephone service was not very good and the receiver had problems hearing the caller. He would say YELL A LITTLE LOUDER! I personally believe it was a response first given by a southern politician and later shortened. The politican was into some kinky stuff with his mistress when he received a call from his wife. The wife asked, Just what are you into now? The politician responded, Jell-O.

Ya'll come, hear?
This is often used as a departing statement. "Ya'll" can refer to a group of people or a single person of either gender. It is used to save time and to avoid the task of selecting the proper noun or pronoun. The statement originated from olden times and can be translated as It is been good to see you again and I hope to see you in church this Sunday. Good-bye.


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The following terms are used primarily by people in Georgia, specifically those who graduated from Georgia Tech. There is no intent to slap the University of Georgia or the state of Alabama, (well, not much).

Tha Dawgs
This refers to the football team from the University of Georgia. Their mascot is the bulldog. The U.G. team is something of an institution in the South and those egg suckers have made their marks in many a honky-tonk.

Them Jackets
This refers to the football team from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their mascot is the insect 'yellow jacket'. Graduates from this school of higher learning have been the backbone for the growth of our company.

Note: These terms are mentioned in case they are used in reference to people. For example, 'He sounds a little like a Georgia Dawg' means that the person is not making sense and could better make use of his time by directing traffic at the school crossing. On the other hand, 'That's a Jacket team play' would mean that obvious cooperation has resulted in a good solution.

Alabama
Dictionary - A state in the Southeast.
Southern - If the world had a lower intestinal track disorder requiring a CT scan for diagnosis preceded by a soapy liquid cleansing action to eliminate residual obstruction that could affect the scan, then Alabama would be the spot where the plunger would be directed with cross-hairs on Birmingham.

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