, Newburyport, MA


May 9, 2013

How we love to express ourselves

And what is so rare as a day in May, so they say! Yup (an expression), it’s finally here, and now we can put away those foolish-looking winter headgear we’ve been wearing all winter. It’s too early to predict our BoSox for 2013, so as my mother used to say, “We’ll see!”

Did you notice I used one of many expressions we New Englanders use in our everyday conversations? The thought occurred to me to write a column about expressions, after I listened to a conversation where one person used the word “absolutely” five times within a matter of 5 minutes.

Another famous expression is the word “exactly” and used frequently. I believe we New Englanders use more expressions than any other part of the country, and I pity foreigners who have to learn English if they reside in this part of the country. In addition to understanding our so-called “slang,” they have to use words, such as “two-too-to” and “hear-here,” as examples, pronounced the same, but different meanings.

Let’s see if I can list just some of our expressions that you, the reader, may use yourself, and often. Mine, by the way, is “whatever”! How about “holy mackeral,” “how come,” “you don’t say,” “hi,” “yup,” “oh hum,” “you betcha,” “why not,” “yeah,” “right on,” “so what,” “how about that,” I’ll be damned” and “God Bless.”

Body expressions have always been popular with us, and I guess anywhere in the world. We frown when disappointed, we throw up our hands in disgust, we put hands on our hips in surprise, we jump for joy, we blow kisses in the air, and we nod up or down or left and right, saying “yes” or “no” and not saying a word.

May I conclude this subject that you may not have done yourself, by saying our handshake has always been traditional, but that too has been changed. Now, we clench our right hand and give everyone a “high five.” By the way, if you happen to travel to Asia, don’t “high five,” but bow, as that is and will remain the proper thing to do.

Meanwhile, I’ve finished the article, so may I say “Yippee!”


Ralph J. Ayers of Newburyport calls himself a “local yokel.”

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