fixin’s

You prob’ly know this word arredy, but if’n y’don’t, I guess I should tell ya that you almos’ allus see it in th’ same phrase: all the fixin’s. Sometimes they spell it with the apostrophe, sometimes not.

I jes’ thought I should tell ya that cuz maybe you mighta thought it was some kinda possessive or somethin’. But now, knowin’ that it’s a plural, d’ya think it’s wrong ta have that apostrophe? I mean, it’s not right to put “I deep fried two turkey’s,” cuz we don’t use apostrophes in plurals. But we do use apostrophes to indicate that somethin’s missin’. An’ here in this word it’s the g. One fixin’, or as many fixin’s as you can fit on yer plate. So there.

Cuz that’s what fixin’s are, right? All the side things you eat with the main thing. If I go to Bob Evans and get me some good country style steak (you may know it as chicken-fried steak), it comes with fixin’s like mash potatoes an’ white gravy an’ some carrots ’n’ peas ’n’ stuff. If’n you deep fry yourself a turkey, your fixin’s’re gonna be stuffin’ an’ mash an’ gravy an’ maybe some slaw an’ who knows, why not some grits too. Look, it’s alright, it’s recommended by the USDA, you kin read it right here. A dish jes’ ain’t right without some fixin’s next to it.

Now, fixin’s aren’t jus’ food things, you understand. Not originally. Why, they was all sorts of any kind of thing that was attached or made ready or accessorized to. You know, fixed up, fixed on, fixin’ to be. That’s how it was in the early 1800s. But now a lot of you won’t see this word at all except in some place where they want to be all homestyle an’ folksy ’n’ everything. You won’t see about the fixin’s of clothing cuz that’s not how they sell it. What’s homestyle? Why, comfort food, that’s what. That good ol’ home food made by honest folk who appreciate the good things in life like fat ’n’ starch. None o’ this fancy city folks stuff that ain’t even cooked an’ leaves you hungry.

And when you serve up some marketin’ text to tell people all about your country style food, you don’t just want the names of the things an’ some description. You want all the fixin’s. You want text that has jes’ as much backwoods southern homestyle as you kin manage ta git away with. So you kin go with the eye dialect – words spelled the way they’re said even though they’re said the same way everyone sez ’em, jes’ ta make it clear that these isn’t fancy edjicated folks. You know, ta an’ sez an’ kin an’ edjicated an’ so on. You might add some infixes, like abso-goldarn-lutely.  And you surely go with the apostrophes.

Funny thing, them apostrophes. They’re supposed ta indicate missin’ things. Well, in somethin’ like an’ or o’ they surely do. But when you write fixin’ and doin’ an’ so on, well, sure, the spellin’ is missin’ a g, but there ain’t no g when you say those words ever in th’ firs’ place. Nosiree, they jus’ have a velar nasal. An’ then, when you move it up to th’ front like even literate people an’ well-respected authors did into th’ early 1800s before the spelling pronunciation took back over, it doesn’t lose a g, right, it jes’ becomes a alveolar nasal. But we still put that apostrophe there. It’s sorta like that little [sic] that people put in quotes to show they know better.

You know what it is? I’ll show ya what it is. Ya see this? ; ) That’s a winky smile, right? OK, mister, so what’s this: ’ ? Why, it’s just a little wink. Every time you see that apostrophe there in fixin’s or anythin’ else like that, it’s a little wink that says, “Yessir, I’m homstyle, ah yep, I am.” An’ authentic as all get out. By which I mean you kin all get out if you think it’s authentic.

So but why not jes’ write it fixings? Well, goodness gracious me. You must be kidding. If we write it that way, we hear that velar nasal clear as day. Sounds like something some British chappy might say. Like this: “She was undeniably an eyeful, being slim, svelte and bountifully equipped with golden hair and all the fixings.” You know who wrote that? P.G. Wodehouse, that’s who. A man surely a complete stranger to grits.

2 responses to “fixin’s

  1. And then there are those who claim that culture, food and language do not go together.

  2. This is really good. Twain-like satire and use of dialect spelled as spoken to create an intentionally understated humorous effect.

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