Monday, June 7, 2010

Bring Back Uncle Remus!

"Zippidee Doo-Dah, Zippidey-ay...My oh my, what a wonderful day..."

"You can rip out mah ears, chop off mah tail, but pleeze oh pleeeze don't frow me in dat briar patch!"

Am I the only one in the world who misses Song of the South and the stories of Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer Rabbit?

Several years ago, my oldest son brought home the stories, and I delighted in reliving a childhood love of hearing these stories and doing the dialect. I can 'hear' the Walt Disney characters in my head, and wish my children could too. I heard the movie was going to be rereleased, and eagerly asked Amazon to notify me when it became available. I sincerely hope it will be; I think I saw this movie two or three times as a child, and had the read-aloud storybooks and records.

Does this make me a racist? No. This was made at a time in history when African-Americans were perceived a certain way. Do we jump all over Father Knows Best, because the moms were seen as subservient to the fathers? No. And Peter Pan is still on shelves, even though the Indians (Native Americans) are portrayed saying 'Ugh". (Yeah, I take issue with the 'PC Police' sometimes!)

What does this have to do with writing veracular language? I like it. I have no problem reading Gone With The Wind and reading Mammy and Prissy's words. I'll admit, the first couple of times, it helped to read it out loud, so I could understand it.

And in contemporary works, I don't mind the use of slang; it adds flavor to the writing. If we all used 'The King's English', it would make for pretty boring reading. I find Bronte, Austin, and original Shakespeare hard to follow. But if I'm taking my Northern characters to the deep South, I'd expect more 'honey-chile', 'cute as a bug's ear', and references to pimento-cheese sandwiches or Mint Julips.

And yes, if I read that a character is from Australia, I expect to read 'G'day mate' instead of 'How do you do?' (Does anyone even say that anymore?)

"Mr. Bluebird on my's a fact, it's actual, everything is satisfactual, zippidy do-dah, zippedy-ay, wonderful feeling, wonderful day!"

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