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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?”

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