Teaching English the Language

The Ryder Cup takes place in jolly old Sutton Coldfield, England, this week. It’s an interesting golf matchup, but it’s the cultural collision I look forward to each time these golfing dynasties get together. What was it George Bernard Shaw said--"England and America are two great societies separated by a common language.”?

The Amis have to get used to guys who talk as if their collars were too tight and who say shed-you’ll for schedule and who say pri-vessy instead of privacy, who call the subway the chubes and say they’re trying to pro-juice a good score or intro-juice a new set of clubs to the game.

But that’s nothing to the cultural shock the Brits undergo when they try to hang onto the inflections the U.S. Southern accent brings to the mother tongue. And the American team is shot through with guys who sound as if they are talking through a mouthful of hominy grits.

So, it is in the spirit of international cooperation and better understandings between our two countries that we bring you herewith--for the edification of the thousands of Englanders who have never had the opportunity to travel through dee-eye-ex-eye-ee--English as it will be spoken at the Belfry this week, together with the closest translation:

Pour --What you try to shoot in golf. Standard score. A four on a 400-yard hole, for example.

Buddy --One under pour.

Coerce --What you play the game on. The coerce this week is the Belfry and you might hear, “What’s pour for this coerce?”


Wan --Something good to drink with dinner.

Fore --A long way away, as in “How fore is it to London?”

Fire --Equitable, just, even-handed. Golf is played on a tract of ground known as the fireway.

Blond --Sightless. A blond driving hole is one on which you can’t see the pin from the tee or the fireway.

Ahs --What you see with. Most golfers have blue ones.

Raffle --Weapon. What you shoot deer with.

Hire --What you have on your head. Most golfers have blond hire. They’re fire-hired.

Port-- What you do to your hire with a comb.

Sod-- Dimension or slant. As in, “Give me your sod of the story.” Or, you might port your hire on the sod.

Palate --Aviator. It was the palates in the RAF that saved England.

Fat --Contend fiercely. Be a fatter. It was the fatter palates who saved the Empire from the Luftwaffe.

Rot --Opposite of left.

Store --Luminary. Leading man or lady. Bette Davis was a big store in the movies. Seve Ballesteros is the store on the European team.

Sinner --The middle.

Heel --Something you climb. Slope.

Top --Category, sort. As in, “I’m the top who likes to use the wedge there.” Or, “My blood is Top O.”

Prod --What goeth before the fall.

Rod --What you do on a horse.

Rodder --Guy on a horse. Jockey.

Card --Yellow belly. A guy who will lay up on the pour-fives.

Moll --5,280 feet.

Far --Conflagration. A golfer shooting 64 is said to be on far.

Lock --Approve of. Enjoy.

Hoard --Difficult. Not easy.

Cord --What you play poker with.

Oh, well --Petroleum.

Babble --The Good Book.

Doll --What you use to call someone on the telephone. If it’s busy you get a doll tone.

Shale --A projectile used in a raffle, or something you might find on the seashore.

Cram --Felony. Bank-robbing is a cram against society.

Pork --Where they play baseball. Fenway Pork, for instance.

Yawl --Either second person plural or first person singular, it doesn’t matter.

Fowl --Take a tumble.

Rotter --Author. Novelist. Hemingway was a great rotter.

Rotten --The printed word. Hemingway was capable of great rotten.

Tam --What waits for no man.

Tod --Waits for no man either. The motion of the ocean. The Alabama football team is known as the Crimson Tod.

Not --The tam of day after the sun goes down.

Hot --Altitude. Elevation. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a hot advantage over most centers.

Gored --The player on either side of the center in football, the backcourt man in basketball.

Woeful --What you put maple syrup on.

Bore --Where you can buy a drink.

Lot --Illumination. A golfer who is 10-under-pour is said to be shooting the lots out.

Just remember there are few one-syllable words in Southernese. The captain of the Ryder (pronounced Rodder) Cup team is not Floyd but Raymond Flow-weed. Calcavecchia cannot even be pronounced south of the Potomac and par is not a level score, it’s either electric current or the description of the kind of game Greg Norman plays off the tee.