The senior women of my Midwestern tribe tend toward lightness in language. This has the effect of living happy, which isn’t altogether true; but in some ways, it is.
If speech patterns are environmental, my aunties evolved as soft-tread speakers growing up members of six families within one building, called of course a six-flat. I suppose if my grandma or uncle lived a wall away, I’d think twice about untoward yelping or loudly stating tough stuff like, “Well, for crying out loud!”
If speech patterns are genetic, my aunties descend from a theatrical strain of plain speakers who believed in hard work and wonderful music, not particularly in that order. When they speak, which is often and at length, it has cadence and it has lilt.
Among their words I have some favorites:
Jumpin’ Jiminee or its Scandinavian variation, Yumpin’ Yiminee.
Well, I’ll be darned.
Well, I never.
She’s a looker, or its gender variation, He’s a looker.
In a pickle.
Cute as a button.
Well, that’s a new one on me.
Some of their words are out of style, but since they ignore that, so do I:
Seemly or its opposite, UNseemly.
Grouch or Grouchy.
The cat’s meow.