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Culture

Skimptions

This old wooden beauty of a Buick was parked on the streets of Manhattan recently. It is the dead-opposite of a skimption.

For your amusement, I hope, I’ve done a Jaywalking episode. It begins with a bit of the overture to Semiramide — a Rossini opera I reviewed from the Met last week. Then I get into Russia and, after a while, China. The Marriott company fired an employee for “liking” a tweet by a Tibetan independence group. Makes me think of Cole Porter: “and they’ll all kow-tow.” So I duly play that song.

I talk a little trade, a little Ben Stein (“Anyone? Anyone?”), a car (long, long wood-paneled Buick LeSabre wagon). I conclude with some Rossini, for symmetry’s sake.

In recent episodes and columns, I’ve been doing some regional speech. A reader from Utah writes,

In the early 1980s, we had terrible flooding from the Great Salt Lake. Our governor was Norm Bangerter, a man who grew up in rural Utah. He was interviewed on television about the impact of the flood, and I’ll never forget how he started his answer: “Is what the problem is is …” This is perfectly and wonderfully typical.

Another reader gives us a lesson from Trinidad:

“Yuh have a good hand,” or “I like yuh hand.” The speaker has just complimented your cooking.

Finally, put some South in your mouth (to steal a phrase from Bro. Jimmy’s BBQ). This is a note about an Alabama family.

If you noticeably lost weight, my grandmother would exclaim, “You fell off!” She also called Coca-Cola “dope.” Peanut butter: “goober salve.”

I met a small farmer once who responded, when I asked him his occupation, “Oh, I pea-patch a little bit.”

If you asked my grandad whether he wanted some more milk and he wanted only a little, he’d reply, “Maybe a skimption.”

I have frequently heard the more profane among us insert swear words right smack dab into the middle of verbs, as in “I guaran-damn-tee it!”

Salty indeed. And savory.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (But not Allegra Budenmayer, may she rot in Hell), Some of you may recall that my favorite essay by the late Tom Wolfe is “The Great ... Read More