Southern Etiquette

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Tango, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Really want to get along with my new neighbors in TN. I realize I'm not one of them but I want to get along and be aprt of the community if possible. There are churches on every block seems like and they come up in conversation. I don't attend. Don't want to insult or offend anyone. They use "Miss," in front of a woman's name and though I cringe at that, I understand it is their upbringing. I've caught myself saying "yes sir" and "thank you ma'am" when I think I should be saying something else like "it's such a hot day today." I'm 41 with grown children, when does a woman stop saying sir and ma'am to younger folks? Any southerners able to help me with general Southern etiquette so I can blend?
     
  2. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    I'm 50, and I still say yessum and no sir. No age limit on being polite! Especially a Southern woman. Think Southern belle.

    :)
     

  3. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If a woman or much older man calls you honey don't break their jaw. Younger or same age man with a gleam in his eye, feel free to if desired.
     
  4. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Putting Miss in front of someone's first name is a matter of showing respect for them. This is done for teachers which is unusual in the north where they would be Mrs. so and so.

    There is more social pressure to go to church in the south so I feel there are more people there because they feel they have to be as opposed to the fact that they believe and are wanting to follow what they believe. Lot's of folks belong to a church and never attend.
     
  5. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Well-Known Member

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    :) I understand where you are coming from - we spent 6 years in the Boothill of MO and it's southern. I grew to appreciate being called "Miss Nancy" because it is simply a term of respect or manners. It reminds me of my parents raising me to call their friends by Mr. or Mrs rather than their first names. "Miss Nancy" was a title of friendship but without any overly familiar disrespect. The 'yessir' and 'yes ma'am' likewise. Just being respectful of your fellow man. It did take me awhile longer to get used to being called "hon" and "sweetie" and "sugar" but again, it was never intended as being offensive or derogatory so I learned to live with it. Even catch myself saying now & again. ;) Pretty much a nicer way of speaking IMHO.

    Now if they start off a story with "Bless her heart ....." get ready for a sugar-coated bit of gossip, a syrup lined insult, or a rose-colored snicker" :haha: I learned that you can say just about anything about anybody if you either preface it or follow it with "Bless his/her heart". :haha:

    Miss Nancy ;)
     
  6. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    tango- i am soooo glad to see someone ask how to get along with their new neighbors, instead of coming on here and complaiing about stupid hillbillies.

    the best way to get along in southern communities is to become part of the community. attend local ball games, use local stores and locally owned businesses. volunteer- for anything that you are interested in. let them get to know you and you get to know them. we may have different ways of doing things, but if you get in there, and live like they do, you'll go far and make friends. i found that an interest in gardening and herbal medicines are topics i can talk to almost anyone around here about. i've been in this little town for 31 years this month. some almost mistake me for a local. :haha: i truly love it here.

    biggest mistake a newcomer can make is to make fun of local traditions, and ways of doing things, and stand off to the side and make snarky remarks about how stupid the locals are, and try to get local government to change things to suit them. they are not stupid, it is the newcomer who doesn't get it.

    what part of tn did you say you were moving to? i am in far, far east tn, almost in nc, near I-40.
     
  7. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    Tango,
    Welcome to TN. I appreciate that you want to fit in and not moving down here to be derogratory(sp ) to the locals and some of the southern tradition. First, don't try to change how things are. It may change but don't move in and demand that things be done this way where I used to live. If you say so, the locals will be quick to tell you to go back where you came from.
    Get use to being called ms or mr tango :) Just be polite and friendly and it will get out in the area what kind of person you are. Give business when possible to mom and pop shops(local hardware or grocery store, etc). Go to basketball games or something community related.
    Sometimes community centers will offer fish fryies(sp). Good way to meet your neighbors and the locals.
    You will find that southern people of hospitable. Not everybody in tn eats grits :haha:
    Where in tn are you located? east, middle, west?
    tnborn
     
  8. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What's wrong with grits? ;)

    I'm from the South and I don't go to church. When we first moved out here to MS the community Baptist Church sent folks out twice. First, the preacher stopped by to invite us to the community and to the church and then a few of the deacons stopped by. Refused to come in because my husband wasn't home! When I'm invited to church I just thank them kindly and change the subject. Works every time.
     
  9. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    Interesting, so a 50 year old man routinely says yes sir, no sir, please sir to an 17 year old male? Now that is polite!
     
  10. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    I'm from Ohio but I live in Virginia now and sometimes I have a hard time understanding the accent here. And it totally cracks me up when somebody calls me honey or sweetie.

    Yesterday I was meeting with the home inspector and we were discussing how much I should ask the home owners to cough up for the repairs to bring the house up to code. They are young and have a 2 week old baby and I didn't want to ask them for anything. He said that this is a business deal and that I don't need to be nice. He said he would charge them and he's a nice guy. He said he was so nice that he even picked up a trapped butterfly and let it loose yesterday. He said he doesn't even hunt anymore. In fact, he said he sold all his faaaarms. Which confused me. I said why did you sell the farms? Why didn't you just get rid of the animals? He looked at me really puzzled and I looked at him. He said 'I said Faaaarms, you know, my guns'. It took me a second but I finally realized he was saying 'Firearms'!
     
  11. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Tango, if you don't want to go to church, don't go. I have people coming by here all the time trying to get me to join their church. Then other people will come by showering me with admiration for not joining such and such church.

    I help when help's needed, wave at everyone and, most importantly, STAY OUT OF THE NEIGHBORS' BUSINESS! No matter how hard everyone tries to drag me into it.

    :grump: :D

    Let me tell you, I'm very careful not to get involved in the local gossip rounds. I don't have time for it and I prefer to like everyone. But there are constant attempts to drag me into the middle of ancient feuds. NOT INTERESTED! Now I don't say that, but whenever the subject turns to nasty gossip, I manage to suddenly realize I have someplace really important I need to be. :D

    It's saved me a world of trouble. It'll save you a world of trouble, too.

    I work with local charitable organizations, and am generous with time, skills and even money when asked and when I can. If the area you're moving into is poorer, that will be much appreciated. If not, it's not so important maybe.

    If there's a can up at the local store looking for donations for sick kids or people whose homes have burned down or whatever, donate! By the same token, if there's a dinner for people suffering tragedy, go.

    Workers are appreciated, slackers are not. You're a hard worker, so you'll be appreciated. But it might take time. It took me a year or so where I am for people to decide I'm not a druggie, a drunk, a con, looking to steal anyone's husband or whatever.

    You're gonna do fine! :D Just give yourself time.
     
  12. Bob_W_in_NM

    Bob_W_in_NM Well-Known Member

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    Well, you are in the South, which we southroners consider to be another country from "Yankeeland". I suggest you adapt and conform or get the hell out.
    (Sorry to be so blunt, but that's the way we feel about it.) I suggest you check out www.dixienet.org to see about our orthography. Yes, I am in New Mexico. We were effectively occupied for awhile during the war of northern aggression by Confederate troops from Texas. We were also annexed by an act of the Congress of the Confederate States of America. Also, all of my known male ancestors, during that time period, on my father's side fought on the side of the Confederacy.

    Welcome to the South. Please try to get along. Don't try to change us. The northern carpetbaggers already tried.
     
  13. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    Yes Sir. That's how I was raised, how I'm raising my boys and how I require everyone at work to act. We all refer to each other as "Sir" or "Ma'am" from the 18 year old boy up to the 62 year old lady.

    If you end up with a TV, watch Turner South. They talk about "My South" alot. Like, "In MY South, we say 'Yes Sir' to the 14 year old boy that approaches the check out counter at the petstore where I work asking to buy crickets."

    And Tango, please remember that here in the South, all women are indeed "Ladies" unless they prove otherwise. Then those rumor circles will start and you'll never live it down.

    My wife is from Romania. I'll never forget the look on her face the first time she was asked, "You aint from around here, are ya?"

    By the way....she's still a Lady and I certainly do say "Yes, ma'am" to her.
     
  14. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    I envy you, Miss Tango. I can't imagine a more pleasant prospect.

    Ann
     
  15. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Amen. I think the same can be said for most rural areas southern or not.

    The worst thing you can do is to come in and try to tell the locals what's what. Words that should never cross your lips are "Where I came from we did..." or "When I lived in X we....".

    As for being called Miss or whatever that is just a form of politeness and respect. I'm not sure why anyone would be offended by it. It one of those things you will just have to learn to live with.
     
  16. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if this is a Kentuckyism, or if it's southern, but here if someone says "I don't care to do that," that means "I won't mind doing that." That caused a little confusion for me since everywhere else I've lived that would have meant "I will not do that."

    The miss or mr is like ...san in japanese. This "to your face politeness" extends to the southern way of saying "no". If you ask for help and they say they'll come around in a week or two, that means they will not show up at all. If they say "Tomorrow at noon" that means tomorrow in the evening or perhaps the next day, as long as it's not "threatening rain"

    When people bring up church I tell them "I don't believe in Church, I believe in God." I'm not sure if that scares them off or not but they stop asking
     
  17. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for all the good advice. I think it is my responsibility to adapt to my new community and anyway, I'm moving, I'm ready for something new. We have some of those things in Florida as well. In my current rural county, it is more "Southern," than the rest of Florida. I've gotten used to being called "hon," and "sweetheart," by women. I was e-mailing with someone from TN about tractor equipment and he began every e-mail with "Dear ma'am," I told him he could call me by my name and he ignored the request and continued with "Dear ma'am." I'll get used to it. I'll have to get used to being my age as well, which I think is part of it. More and more people are calling me "ma'am as the gray hairs begin their takeover. CG rumor circulation has been a no-no for me since the fourth grade when I learned no matter whose side you're on, they'll find a way to use it against you so its best to make one's own side (outside :) ). Not crazy about iced tea but I like instant or herbal, the real stuff tastes wierd to me. Thank you for the lesson in time GeorgeK; I think the other week when I was up there I experienced that. Had two appointments. One was 90 minutes late and the other didn't show up :)
     
  18. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Will be in south middle TN, very close to the Alabama border.
     
  19. Peggyan

    Peggyan Well-Known Member

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    I've been in middle Tn for 20 years now. I was raised in Florida and still say Sir and Mam and ya'll. Still moving here was like falling into a time warp. We had some cousins that would come over when we came to visit (before we moved here). When they'd get up to leave, about 8:00pm they'd say "ya'll come go with us". Well after the second or third time they said that I told my dh that we needed to go with them the next time or they was liable to get their feelings hurt. So we did and stayed an hour and came home. After we moved here we found out that thats just something folks say around here. They don't really want you to go with them you are just supposed to say "naw, I'll just stay to the house". The cousins still tease us about that.
    Blessings
    Peggy
     
  20. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    georgek- it's the same here- i don't care (but it sounds like "keer") means they want to do it. also "it'll be alright" means "yes." the subtle influences do remind me of what i have read of japanese culture. there are all kinds of hidden meanings. for example, when i moved here, a man stopped by and told me he owned the adjacent 100 acres. i asked him if he minded if i took long walks up there. he said, that will be fine, except it's not insured. which means "no" but they are too polite to say so.:) (later turned out, someone is growing lots of marijuana up there.) another one is, "it's tore up," meaning it's broken.

    i tell newcomers they need to know 2 things to get along here.

    1. do unto others...

    2, mind your own business. (see marijauna reference above.:))

    surprising how hard those two things are for a lot of people.