Saturday, August 21, 2010

CHURL -- am I a boor?

I've been waiting to document this spelling for awhile now.  I grew up in southern Indiana and heard people pronounce my name this way for the first two decades of my life.  Even though it's north of the Mason-Dixon line, southern Indiana still identifies as the south.  The imaginary Yankee border is about an hour and a half north from the Ohio River in Bloomington.  Indiana University is there and students and residents seem to identify more with Chicago and the accents prove it.  I can say this because I'm from there, but folks from the southern Indiana/northern Kentucky area are lazy speakers.  I can pick out the drawl from across a crowded bar.  

For example, the city right across the border from Louisville, Kentucky is New Albany.  However, when southie Hoosiers say it, they shorten it to three syllables and slur it all together, so it sounds something akin to "knobby knee" or "knaw bah-nee."  Even our state nickname for natives, Hoosiers, is supposedly a contraction/lazification (my invented word) of "who's ear?" -- from a rougher, less civilized time when people used to fight and bite each others ears off.  Hence, my name becomes one syllable with a hard R drawl on the end.  Listen to George Clooney speak.  He's from northern Kentucky and you can hear that sluggish accent slip out occasionally.

From the movement of her wrist, I could tell that the cashier scribbled a C, then she paused (notice the break between the first and second letter.)  However, I didn't hear a tinge of southernness in her voice.  So she heard me say my name and her brain somehow twisted it into this Dixieland version.

I know it was only 8:00am when I walked into the Starbucks and my personality doesn't fully kick in until about 10:00am, but what are they trying to tell me with this spelling?

CHURL –noun
1. a rude, boorish, or surly person.
2. a peasant; rustic.
3. a miser: He was a churl in his affections.
4. English History: a freeman of the lowest rank.

Plus one style point (+1) because this could also be interpreted as C-Hurl, which may have to be my new rapper name.

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