Friday, December 29, 2006

Everything's Relative in Howardtown

The residents of Howardtown, Alabama, are all descended from the same couple: James Jackson and Elizabeth (Sweeney) Howard.

If you live in Howardtown, you are either a Howard, you married a Howard, or your mother or grandmother was a Howard.
If you grew up in Howardtown, you know how to speak Howard, and it is no big deal; but to those of us who did not, it is fascinating. "My man" or "governor" is a male greeting. "Where are you going?" Quo Vadis. "Where have you been?" Elsworth. A shotgun is a smokepole but a rifle is a stick. Purvis is tobacco and a Purvis blade is a pocketknife. A dallas is a nap.
What's most fascinating to me is the patronymic naming system that the family has adopted, which incorporates nicknames.
Albert Parnell has a son called Buddy; i.e. Buddy Albert. The formula really gets multi-layered though, when both father and son have nicknames as in the case of Lloyd Howard and his father. Adon Howard's nickname was Ajack, while Lloyd's is Whitey. Lloyd becomes Whitey Ajack. [Link]

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