What Fun Your Yonder Ignorance Breaks

, , , , , , | | Right | May 18, 2018

(I was born in the southern US and raised there all my life, so I have a THICK southern accent. I also have two degrees, one in archaeology, the other in anthropology. At the time this takes place, I am working on my archaeology thesis, and have taken a job at a local “big box” home improvement store just to make ends meet. I’m about to get off work for the day, and I’m walking back in the direction of the customer service desk to clock out, when a customer approaches me.)

Customer: *with a thick Jersey, or New York City accent*  “Could you tell me where plumbing is located?”

Me: “Just down yonder, ma’am. Under the sign that says plumbing.”

Customer: “’Yonder’? ‘Yonder’? God, that’s why I hate coming to the south: all these d*** uneducated rednecks. ‘Yonder’ isn’t even a word! I’ve taught English all my life and I’ve never heard it. Can’t you use proper English, or is that beyond your eighth-grade education?”

Me: “’Yonder,’ as you might be interested to know, is an old English word that was first recorded as being used in the 1400s, though historians agree that it likely was in popular use prior to that. Specifically, it refers to an instance when the person making use of the term does not know the cardinal direction in which they are directing. Furthermore, when used as a measure of distance, it must be a distance that is greater than a few feet, but shorter than a full mile. Thus, when Romeo makes the famous statement, ‘But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? ‘Tis the east, and Juliet is the sun,’ Romeo is noting that he does not know what direction Juliet is from him in relation to the cardinal directions, and that while she is some distance from him, she is well within the standard of being less than a mile away, but more than a few dozen feet away. In the southern United States, due to the majority of early settlers coming from poorer regions of the United Kingdom, the term ‘yonder’ was retained; whereas in more urban environments, where settlers came from more wealthy locations, the saying fell out of favor, due in no small part to persons not wanting to sound poor.”

Customer: “I… What… I… How do you know that?”

Me: “Studied English in college. It was a requirement.”

Customer: *a bit huffy* “Well what are you studying? Liberal arts? Fat load of good that will do you.”

Me: “Actually, I’ve my masters in anthropology, and I’m finishing up my doctoral thesis in archaeology. I just work here to make some extra cash.”

(The customer gets VERY quiet, and then finally says:)

Customer: “Ah, so, under the plumbing sign?”

(I just nodded while she tottered off. I do believe I rather destroyed her prejudiced idea about all “rednecks” being ignorant.)

1 Thumbs
1,450
VOTES