Favorite

Si-fogging in print:

The Dictionary of American Regional English is a reference work in progress, the fifth and final volume scheduled for publication in 2009. DARE’s aim is “not to prescribe how Americans should speak, or even to describe the language we use generally, the ‘standard’ language. Instead, it seeks to document the varieties of English that are not found everywhere in the United States — those words, pronunciations, and phrases that vary from one region to another, that we learn at home rather than at school, or that are part of our oral rather than our written culture. … Depending on where you live, your conversation may include such beguiling terms as si-fog (Arkansas), pirok (Alaska), or pestle-tail (North Carolina) … ”

Took me back, it did. I remember hearing si-fog, and it was at home. I haven’t heard it in years and I don’t think I’d ever seen it in print, until now, so I never pondered whether si-fog was hyphenated or not. The DARE entry says that si-fog is found “especially in Arkansas,” is often used with “around,” and means “to roam or loaf about, to ramble around aimlessly,” as in “You boys don’t need the car tonight. All you want to do is go si-fogging around anyway.” And that’s the say I heard it used. I may have heard those exact words, in fact. Good work, DARE.

The only thing I might question DARE on is whether si-fog was unique to Arkansas, or nearly so. Most of the things we think are found only in our home state, whatever that state is, turn out to have been used elsewhere too. Although, si-fog probably dates from a time when there was little in the way of mass communication, and may not have traveled far.

It was with Jenny Lind, I think, or maybe Sarah Bernhardt:

In a public-library newsletter, of all places, Jason Rouby found “Now engaged in public speaking on American history, the retired attorney says he is especially interested in the civil war. He says he is particularly interested in the Lincoln assignation and civil war spies.” Rouby writes: “Is this what drove Mary Todd bonkers?”

Favorite
  |  

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

  • A foggy open line and preparation for King-Lee Day

    The line is open. Perhaps you're reading in preparation for the King-Lee holiday tomorrow. One book is currently sold out, thanks to Donald Trump.
    • Jan 15, 2017
  • An angle on collecting sales tax from Amazon, other online sales

    The president of the Arkansas Restaurant Association says there is a way to make sure a sales tax is collected from on-line retailers, most recently adopted in Louisiaa. He's working on the idea in Arkansas.
    • Jan 15, 2017
  • LR City Hall agenda: Sales taxes

    The Little Rock City Board of Directors has  scheduled a vote on a resolution asking for a meeting with the Arkansas congressional delegation about federal legislation to allow cities to recapture sales tax revenue lost to Internet sales.
    • Jan 15, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

  • UPDATE: Retired Arkansas Arts Center director Townsend Wolfe dies at 81

    Townsend Durant Wolfe, III, retired director and chief curator of the Arkansas Arts Center, has died at 81.
  • Subpoenas identify names of federal interest in kickback probe

    The Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District today provided me with the subpoena it received from federal investigators in a probe that led to former Republican Rep. Micah Neal's guilty plea to taking kickbacks from money he guided to a nonprofit agency and a private college in Springdale, apparently Ecclesia College.
  • Human Services says it's eliminated Medicaid application backlog

    The state Human Services Department has informed Gov. Asa Hutchinson that it has all but eliminated a backlog in applications for Medicaid coverage.
  • Praising Asa

    Let us now praise the governor for a starkly moderate record, at least in comparison with other red-state executives.
  • Glass houses

    Having gotten a deep security briefing and probably a confidential glimpse of our own vast cyberspying operation, Donald Trump is no longer pretty sure that the Kremlin didn't hack Democratic computers or employ other tactics to help his election.

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Indian Rock House at Fairfield Bay

Indian Rock House at Fairfield Bay

Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Hillbillies

    • One last thought - oh, Nanc, do try not to refer to your children, adorable…

    • on January 14, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • Dearest Nanc - My, my - showing a good bit of hatred yourself, Look into…

    • on January 14, 2017
  • Re: Hillbillies

    • I'm with you all the way, Nanc.

    • on January 14, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation