contributed by Dr James Everett Kibler, Jr
LS Cultural Committee Chairman, Maybinton, South Carolina


Lesson One

     With this article, the Cultural Committee of the League answers many requests for a Southern orthograpy guide for the spelling they are seeing used effectively in the Patriot and such superb state League journals as Nat Rudulph’s Southern Events—a model state publication of its sort (from Alabama)—and new journals like League member David Rockett’s important The  Agrarian  Steward  (Monroe, Louisiana).

     Our Southern spelling in these is based largely (but not exclusively) upon British orthography—that orthography predating Noah Webster’s assault on diversity that culminated in his famous comformist dictionary. (Noah Webster was the consummate Yankee codifier and the chief centraliser of the language.)The following are four of the most frequently used orthographical musts:

1) The Second Syllable ‘our’ Nouns and Verbs. Examples: (n.) flavour, honour, labour, colour, humour, neighbour and (v.) to favour, to honour, to labour, etc. As a means to remembering to spell these words this way, we might think that we are making them our own words and strengthening our own language.

Three-syllable words like advisor, protector, will not take the ‘our’ form.

2) The Subversive S-Z. Remember it by realising that when we are converting the ‘z’ to ‘s’, we are being subversive of homogenisation and centralisation. These words can be either nouns, and you can see that the ‘s’ precedes ‘ation’ forms, or verbs ending in ‘ise’. Examples: (nouns) decentralisation, organisation, dramatisation, and (verbs) to organise, politicise, recognise, emphasise, humanise.

3) Dates. My own pet changeover is the manner of giving dates. Place the day-numeral before the month. (I promise you you will like the ease, clarity, and efficiency of it.) Thus 4 July 1776, 20 December 1860, 12 April 1861, etc. The best place to begin this practise is when we write letters and checks—a time we may be concentrating a little more than usual on what we are doing.

4) The One-Syllable Contractions. Omit the apostrophe on these: wont, dont, arent, cant, aint. I think I'll add caint out of allegiance to my Upcountry Carolina heritage. Caint is a wonderful elision of cant and aint and is honestly and manfully powerful-as-hell, especially next to the milk-sop can’t when it is given the decadent swank of the broad ‘a’ of Boston or the nasalised venom of the keeint of Brooklyn.

     The two-syllable contractions (woudn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t hasn’t, hadn’t, etc.) should retain an apostrophe.

     Southern speech has strongly resisted codification, so if you go astray and create a new word, and it communicates—no harm done. Better to create than be cloned and mindless.

     Let’s work on these in the coming months, and I will provide a new lesson in the next Patriot. In the meantime, continue to send any local Southern words from your area for us to catalogue.

Note:   To subscribe to Southern Events, send $15.00 to PO Box 2517, Selma, Alabama 36702. To subscribe to The Agrarian Steward, send $15.00 to 206 Rochelle Avenue, Monroe, Louisiana 71201.