What’s all the fuss about the United States adopting one official language? I personally believe we all ought to speak or at least understand more than one tongue. Spanish would be a good start, and I personally would like to learn Italian. Ever since visiting Italy I’ve been convinced that I’d like to go back and converse with folks about what a beautiful country they have.

But, in the meantime, it seems to me our best interests are served by adopting one official language for the entire United Sates — Southern, which I speak fluently.

A bit of re-education in our public schools will be necessary to bring folks up to snuff, so to speak, with the Southern vernacular. And I’m not talking about the accent that folks north of the Mason Dixon wrongly accuse us of having, and which Hollywood starlets butcher when they try to fake it. I’m talking about language, words, pronunciations and meanings.

I’m sure most of you have seen Southern dictionaries in upper class interstate restaurants such as Po Folks and Cracker Barrel, prominently displayed with White Trash Cooking and the Yankee’s Guide to Graceland. That’s a good start, but we need a more concentrated educational effort if we expect to rid the country of the inferior dialects of Brooklyn, Boston and Bar Harbor (What kind of sense does down East make?).

I recommend total immersion as the best method to teach the Southern language. From now on, anyone encountering anyone from Up North should refuse to make change, provide directions or otherwise engage them in polite conversation until they learn how to speak proper Southern English. (Southern English seems redundant, come to think of it. Southern is English in its most pure form. Even the English don’t speak it as well.)

I surely don’t have enough space in this column (pronounced colyume in Southern) to make much headway in re-educating the public, but we may as well begin with y’all. Do not respond to anyone who refers to more than one of you as youse guys. They are obviously from New Jersey (pronounced like the milk cow, without an o and an i, sounding like joisey). Y’all is plural. And all y’all means a whole bunch of folks, probably related in some form or another.

The national anthem, naturally, will be altered to: “Oh say can y’all see….” I can’t understand why Mr. Key missed that opportunity in the original version.

And we do have words with multiple meanings. There is a word for words like that and somewhere in my studies for a masters degree in English I was supposed to have learned it but can’t remember what it is.

But, for now, we’ll just call them words with more than one meaning but the same spelling. Mess is a good example. Most folk consider mess something that’s untidy, and it is. It’s also enough for a meal as in a mess of greens (and greens refers to collards or turnips, not chard, kohlrabi or whatever else Yankees eat with ham hocks).

Some might be confused with the military use of mess, as in: “The officers’ mess included t-bone steak.” That meaning obviously derives from the Southern definition of enough for a meal, unless of course officers are untidy eaters.

Fixin’ doesn’t necessarily mean repairing your pick-up. It also may refer to being in the process of about getting ready to do something, such as repairing your pick-up. I can fondly recall more than one time my mother saying: “I am fixin’ to blister your bottom.” It’s much funnier in hindsight, so to speak.

And directly doesn’t mean taking a straight course to a destination, as in: “He was going directly to jail after he got caught with his neighbor’s chickens.” Directly, in Southern, means soon, as in: “He will be in jail directly; they just caught him with his neighbor’s chickens.”

And, as y’all can see, I’m fixin’ to run out of space here directly, so I better save some of this educational material for another time.

e-mail: rsmith@farmpress.com