# 363, April 24, 2005
WILDCAT, West Virginia: The big news in these parts and all across the country is that last week, by an act of the State Legislature, English is the Official Language of West Virginia.
From now on, any English spoken in any other state is not Official.
Any other states that want to make English their official language (and believe me, there’s plenty of Legislators all fer it), they’ve got to go through West Virginia to do it.
For every “g” that West Virginia drops from the ends of words, Massachusetts adds a dozen “r’s”. Any Scrabble game you buy in Massachusetts, they put in a bunch of extra “R” blocks. You turn those blocks over, and you find the “G’s” they took out of the West Virginia Scrabble.
At West Virginia University they have all their English majors workin’ nights and weekends compilin’ dictionaries for trainin’ other states. (See, I’m already catchin’ on.) Dropping all those g’s means the newspapers are shorter, don’t take near as many pages as in Boston. Now when it comes to speakin’, Massachusetts talks so fast they cram more words into a shorter time, even with those excess letters. That’s why when a Senator from Massachusetts talks for 30 minutes it takes a West Virginian 45 minutes to listen and figure out what he said. On the radio in Massachusetts the local news only takes 3 minutes; in West Virginia it’s closer to 10. Of course that includes obituaries and who all was let in or let out of the hospital.
Now it ain’t just Massachusetts. Every state has their own peculiarities in language. So as a public service to help folks in other states wanting to get a head start on this official English, here’s a few official West Virginia words for you to chew on.
A right smart number of these terms are also common to Oklahoma, or at least they seem to be, ’cause they showed up in what “I” wrote for the newspapers (in bold). It could also be because one of my ancestors landed from Ireland 200 years ago and spent quite some time in these parts.
Fetch “But while (my Weekly Article) does not bring home the Literary praise, it does fetch in some buckwheat cakes accompanied by bacon.”
Vittles “…and let our native food spoilers fix them up a batch of vittles garnished with…”
Pert “So you can’t blame him very much for not feeling any too pert.” (This one means lively, and you pronounce it “peert”)
Plum “I get to doing all this foolishness, and plum forget to do what I ought to do.”
Loft “I used to be scared to climb up as high as the barn loft unless there was a load of hay being pitched in.” (You city folks know that one because landlords fix up these old dusty attics, call it a loft, and charge you $1500 a month to climb up there and sleep.)
Bust “(President Hoover), we all know that you was handed a balloon that was blowed up to its utmost. You held it as carefully as any one could, but the thing busted right in your hands.”
Yonder “All I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see here and yonder.“
Holler (here you get two words for the price of one) “Everybody hollers about all this big new batch of money that is to be spent.” It’s also a small valley, often with a crick runnin’ through it.
Poke (Here’s one with at least four or five meanings, a humongous bargain) “So you see it wasent any organized effort to poke pears down a Visitor’s throat by the better business element.”
” …it was pitch dark. Cabs were poking along, people feeling their way about.”
“A good many papers are poking fun at these “Progressives” who are meeting in Washington.”
Poke is also a sack to put your store-bought groceries in. And, in a pinch, a Poke can fill in for a Samsonite.
Well, that’s a few official words to start off with. I don’t want to give you the whole kitt and caboodle in one lesson. As kind of a homework assignment, for bonus points here’s five words to figure out by next week: dreckly; press; cuttin’ up; nairy; and ramp.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers: see above