Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vocab: Bless your heart!

Polite society survived in the American South much longer than it did in the rest of America, and this saying, Bless Your Heart, is an idiom that survives from that time. You hear it quite a bit here. I have been trying to come up with an equivalent that I have heard in California and have been unable to do so. We tend to come right out and say what we're thinking.

As you may have guessed, it doesn't actually mean "Bless your heart." It is used most often regarding children. Just as an adult might tell a child struggling with a puzzle that he or she is doing well, you would later hear that adult say something like "The puzzle only had 4 pieces but bless his heart, he couldn't figure it out." In this context, it's innocuous.

However, you will also hear it used of adults. In this context it is one of the most condescending things I have ever heard. Just as with children, it is used of someone who is struggling to understand a concept or complete a task that they are unable to. It is also often used of Yankees who are mystified at the culture of the South. Maybe something like:

Yankee: What exactly is a meat and three?
Native Southerner: Bless your heart, we'll just have to go!
Yankee: Right.

And the California Equivalent:

Not-Californian: What exactly is California Fusion?
Native Californian: What do you mean 'What is California Fusion'? It think it's pretty clear from the name.
Not-Californian: Right.


meg said...

i laugh out loud because of you. no one does that to me with words on the screen.

meg said...

p.s. why am i not linked in YOUR sidebar. geez. double standard.

Josh (the oak) said...


onefinemess said...

See, I have no idea what a cali fusion is.

It sounds like some kind of sex thing ...something they might do in LA.

meg said...

THANK you.

Nate said...

From what I can tell "Bless Your Heart" is a kind way of saying "Oh, I didn't realize you were so clueless."

At least thats how its usually directed at me.

Science said...

Bless my heart, I don't know what California Fusion is.