Crossing the Mason-Diction Line


From Southern by the Grace of God, 1996

It was the 1991 Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl between the Universities of Georgia and Arkansas, the Dawgs and Hawgs respectively.

One would think television people wouldn’t have a problem repeating the above paragraph correctly, but that hasn’t been the case, and so once again I must assume my role as Slim Pickens, Professor of Speaking Correctly.

Let us begin with Poulan. A local announcer pronounced it POH-land, as in the Eastern European country. (Not as in the recession-ridden United States.) It’s POO-lahn, I think. What the announcer should have done anyway is not try to say Poulan at all, but simply call it the Weedeater Bowl.

I like a football game named after such an aggressive piece of equipment as the weedeater. A coach could say, “Boys, they’re grass and we’re a bunch of souped-up Weedeaters.”

Coaches say things like that, as well as things like, “Remember, boys, they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like we do.”

Whenever a coach said something like that to me, I always thought, “Well, I guess so. Who the hell could jump into a pair of pants two legs at a time?” I’m certain it’s POO-lahn, and if it’s not, it should be. The professor has the last word.

Now, to Dawgs and Hawgs.

A dawg is a Southern man’s best friend, as in, “That dawg’ll hunt.”

A hawg is Southern for, “You can lead a hawg to water, but all he’ll try to do is waller in it.”

But I was watching a network telecast of the Atlanta-New Orleans NFL playoff game recently and one of the announcers was hyping the telecast of the Independence Bowl. It came out: “It’s the Dugs and Hugs in the Independence Bowl.”

It was obvious the announcer wasn’t, as they used to say back home, “from ’round heah,” which basically meant he was a Northerner.

Read my lips: “Dawwwwwgs.” Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Then bring it down forcibly and spit out “Dawwwwwgs” by forming the mouth into a circle. If it comes out a little nasal, more the better.

For “Hawwwwwgs,” it comes from deep in the throat as in “Haw!” Pretend you’re spitting out a bad oyster. Some announcers also say the Atlanta “FALL-cuns.” It’s “FOWL-cans.” And they saw “aw-BURN” when they should pronounce it “AW-bun.”

Television, I believe, is responsible for the slow disappearance of all sorts of accents in this country. I’m afraid one day everybody will sound alike, and that would be a shame.

Professor Grizzard would be out of work, and who would care about an athletic event between the Dugs and Hugs? Sounds more like an encounter group than a
bunch of fired-up weedeaters trying to take each other’s heads off, which builds character both on and off the field.

The Dawgs and Hawgs. It’s a Southern thing. The rest of y’all just wouldn’t understand.

Lewis Grizzard

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