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Translation Tuesday: Bless Her Heart

October 11, 2011

I’m back! Back from several days in St. Louis… but more on that later this week. It is Tuesday, so here is a brief translation for the day: Bless Her Heart.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

One of the things the South is known for is good manners, seriously. Manners and charm.  People smile at one another down here, men hold open doors for women, you are trained to say sir and ma’am from a young age, please and thank you are a given. Manners we do well. So, it should come as no surprise that even when we are speaking ill of someone, it is covered up in a nice way.

I was reminded of this last week while I was in St. Louis at a conference. I was talking with a participant about my home city and complaining about how horrible the public transportation is and that the company that runs the bus system can’t even run it correctly as a business. I said “ they just can’t seem to keep the company from going belly up as a result of their bad management, bless their hearts.”

My comment is really not that mean, but it illustrates the point. It also points out how easily it has slipped into my vocabulary. A good Southerner with a strong command of the vernacular can deliver the most scathing criticism and wrap it up in a sweet and sunny bow by smiling, saying it with a Southern drawl and those three little words: Bless Her Heart. Also any number of pronouns can be used: her, his, their, your, etc.  If they are really good, you won’t know you’ve received a put down until you process it later. So the next time you hear, “bless your heart” look to see if you are being put down.

That concludes our vocabulary lesson for the day!

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