Do What Now? And Other Regional Phrases

A visiting vendor was talking to his office outside my cubicle.

“Do what now?” I heard him say, and it made me smile.

For those not familiar with Southern Colloquialisms, “do what now?” is equivalent to “would you repeat that please?”

It’s one of the phrases I had to adjust to when I moved from New England down here to the Carolinas.

Along with the “y’all” which I was fully familiar with from all the overly-dramatized accents portrayed on TV, I also soon learned such phrases as:

“Mash that light” (flip the light switch)
“Don’t be ugly” (don’t be disagreeable)
“Bless his heart” (recognize that he’s a poor soul that needs pity)
“He’s a mess” (he’s being silly so make sure to bless his heart)

And many others, which I hope you will add.

What regional phrases did you have to get used to when you relocated (and tell where you relocated from and to, if you don’t mind!)

Out in Utah they say
Oh, my Heck!

…which has always struck me as pretty odd. Elsewhere, “heck” is used as a euphemism for “hell”, replacing it in phrases like “What the Hell?” or “Where the Hell is he?”
But nobody says “Oh, my Hell!” It’s the only time “heck” is used where it’s not a direct replacement for “Hell”, as far as I’m aware, and it’s a regionalism, confined to Utah and the surrounding Intermountain West.

It’s such a characteristic regionalism that cartoonist Pat Bagley used it as the title of one of his collections:

When my travels brought me from Massachusetts to Tennessee, I had to give up “wicked” (Boy, it is wicked cold out today!) and learn “Bless his heart” (as it, “Bless his heart, [that idiot] doesn’t know any better.”)

I still say wicked. But I only slide back to my Boston accent upon request.

[Steve Sweeney]
Pahk my cah in Hahvahd yahd? What ah you? Retahded? That’s not a pahking lot!

[/Steve Sweeney]

Wicked pissah!

Am I a Southerner? I say “Do what now?”

I had to get used to people confusing the words “borrow” and “lend/loan” when I moved to the Midwest. I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell?” It’s true, people will ask you to borrow them $100 as opposed to loaning them $100. It actually confused me the first time I heard it. Made no sense, I tells ya! I also had to learn to live with the fact that actual people here will say “You betcha.”

I would need an audio clip to confirm that you are saying it southern :smiley:

Cold enough for ya?

I’m from Southern California, so I’m probably saying it southernish, right?

I picked up “reach me down [an object]” from my aunt, who grew up in Kansas and lived in Oklahoma most of her adult life.

I knew it!! LOL. :stuck_out_tongue:

My family uses all of the phrases in the OP. In fact, my parents almost always use the word “mash” instead of “push”. “Mash on the gas”, “mash the elevator button”, “mash the light switch.”

I use the phrase “Say that again?” to mean that I didn’t hear what was said. Sometimes people are offended as it does sort of come out as an order rather than a request.

“Do what now?” sort of means “could you repeat that”, but I’ve always heard and used it to mean more of a “what the heck are you talking about?” kind of thing.

One wicked pissah thing I learned when I move to Boston:

I walked into a Christy’s (remember those?) and asked the counter guys where the pop was.

“Pop? Pop?!? What ah ya, retahded or somethin’? You must be from Nebrasker! It’s tawnic! TAWNIC!”

Speaking of Southern Cali, the phrase “No worries!” as a substitute for “Don’t worry”/“No problem” still sounds…surfer-ish to me, and I’ve lived out here for 4 years now. I transplanted from Michigan…

i don’t call it tonic, i call it soda.

Down here, they call it a ‘coke’

“Wanna coke?” they’d ask.


“What kind?” (i was thinking regular, diet, etc.)

“Whatcha got?”

“RC, Sprite, Rootbeer, Pepsi. . .”

(it was rare they actually had ‘Coke’ too!)

Grr, I hate that, to me it’s the sign that someone is severely uneducated. My wife uses the phrase a lot (probably because we are close enough to the Midwest to have our speech take on those regionalisms) and I often correct her. Another one she uses is “she” to refer to inatimate objects, such as “She’s really coming down now!” talking about the weather, and “I couldn’t control the car, she was spinning out on the road.” For some reason, I’m positive those are Atlantic-isms (she was posted in Halifax for a while when she was in the navy), and every time she says that, I picture a rugged sailor on a ship, because that’s who I associate with using the feminine for all inanimate objects …

I think the use of tonic is falling out of favor. I mostly hear it now from older people from Dorchester.

Do you know what a regular coffee is?

There’s one non-regional group that uses “do what now?” and “whatnow” - as opposed to “What *NOW[/i?” fairly often: Simpsons fans. [Of course the most popular version is “who shot who in the what now?” which I’m sure nobody else ever says.] Anyway:

When I moved to the Midwest I didn’t mind “pop” or “bubbler,” but I first heard “hella” when I was out there and I just loathed it. Turns out it’s a Californian word via Gwen Stefani and South Park, so I can’t blame the Midwesterners for it.

My college roommate was from Pittsburgh and she when she asked me for a “gum band” I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. But that’s a whole 'nother story. (a midwesternism)

If you use the construction “That car needs washed,” instead of “needs to be washed” or “needs washing,” I know you live within a 4-hour drive of me.