Nashville Slang

by Katie Arvidson, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Aug 31st 2010 02:00 PM

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Nashville Slang

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In Nashville, slang is prevalent, and much of the local lingo heard around Music City is synonymous with general southern phrases. Nashville visitors, particularly those from the North, might want to read up on the local lingo before taking a trip – to many northerners, southern slang sounds like a language all its own.

1. "Nashvegas"

While the city is still recognized as "Music City, U.S.A.," the name "Nashvegas" has grown in popularity over the past few years. I'm not sure how this Nashville slang came into existence, but the terminology makes perfect sense. Bright lights, a thriving music scene and interesting characters populate Broadway and downtown, so the comparison to Las Vegas is apropos. Locals and visitors alike flock to Broadway to soak up the sights and sounds of one of the most musically talented streets in the world. Sure, there's no gambling in Nashville, but visitors find just as much fun enjoying countless live performances from local musicians.

2. "He's so hot, he makes my teeth sweat."
The down-home descriptive phrases that Nashvillians utter are endless and entertaining. One morning, I went out for a southern breakfast with my cousin, an admittedly good-looking man. We sat down at a local Nashville diner, and I overheard a teenage girl at the table next to us exclaim to her friend, "He's so hot, he makes my teeth sweat." I laughed and committed this little gem to memory.

3. "Ain't"
Replace all instances of "not" with "ain't," and you'll fit right in among the Nashville crowd. If you don't follow suit, you can be sure that Nashvillians will know right away that you ain't from around here. This isn't just Nashville lingo; travel anywhere in the deep South, and you're sure to hear "ain't," an integral part of most southern dialects.

4. "Y'all come back now."
Anytime you're addressing a group in Nashville, be sure to say "y'all." A combination of "you" and "all," this is the southern version of the northeast's "you guys." You'll not find a more welcoming place in the world; Nashvillians are quick to show some of the best hospitality you've ever experienced. Like "ain't," "y'all" is commonly used southern slang, and it's quite easy to develop the habit of using this easy, laid-back conjunction.

5. "Shelville"
If you are ever looking for Shelbyville, Tennessee and you stop to ask directions, you're sure to find a down-home native eager to help you find your way. Unfortunately, it's easy for subtleties to get lost in translation. When I first moved to Nashville, I attempted to wind my way through miles of old country roads, wanting to take the scenic route to my new home. Big mistake. Each time I stopped to asked directions, map in hand, I was met with a grin and commentary on how easy it was to get to my destination. All I need to do was, "Take this highway through Shelville and you'll come out straight to where you need to go." Searching for Shelville on my map netted me nothing. Four gas station stops later, someone finally clarified, explaining that the correct name is actually "Shelbyville." Knowing this Nashville lingo can save you a lot of time and gas.

6. "Dat dere"
When I first moved to the city and attended a basketball game, I was quickly introduced to this bit of Nashville slang. Near half time, the game became heated and the players picked up fouls. One of the players blatantly mishandled the ball but the referees missed the call. A man behind me jumped to his feet and yelled, "Dat dere was a double-dribble!" Thus began my introduction to Nashville slang.

7. "City folk"
Some Nashvillians refer to those from larger cities as "city folk." If this applies to you, don't worry – Nashvillians treat everyone the same. Whether you hail from Chicago or a small town in Alabama, you'll be welcomed to Nashville with open arms. If you're looking to fit in with the locals, though, I'd suggest skipping the suit and tie. Pull on jeans and boots, and you're set for a night on the town.

8. "Going to town"
One of the first friends I made in Tennessee grew up in a small town called Spring Hill, located about thirty minutes south of Nashville. I called her one day and she told me she was going to town and asked if I'd like to join her. I asked which town she was going to visit and she was incredulous. Apparently, "going to town" always refers to the largest city in the vicinity – Nashville, in this case.

9. "Fixin' to"
This phrase is the only Nashville classic I've caught myself using on a regular basis. Ask a Nashvillian where she's going and you're likely to hear the response, "I'm fixin' to go to the store. You need something?" You can be "fixin' to" do just about anything, and it's an easy, relaxed way to share your plans. Use this southern slang, and people will be certain you're from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.

10. "You done good."
I was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding in Nashville. She had grown up just outside of New York City and moved to Nashville as an adult, where she had the pleasure of finding and falling in love with a born-and-bred Tennessean. While vastly different, they're one of the most compatible couples I've met. As the wedding was about to start, the groom's father took him by the shoulder and whispered, "You done good, boy. You hold on to her." One of the sweetest moments I've witnessed has forever cemented this southern slang in my mind.

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