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Holler Me - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Holler Me
Recently I said "Holler me if you need the dishrack put away," and for no particular reason other than I am a hobby-linguist, I got to thinking about the subtle distinctions of this term.

"Holler" means to call loudly, often across a house or yard.  It also tends to convey a higher level of urgency.  

"Holler me" is a combination of "tell me" and "summon me."  It includes a stipulation that if you notify me of a previously agreed upon condition, I will follow through with the promised response.  This is the same as "tell" but allows a higher volume and demand for attention.  You don't have to raise your voice if you don't need to, but you're allowed to, and it's taken as a summons not a scold.

"Holler for  me" means that I will come when you call, but when I get there, we'll have a discussion about what you want.  It only includes answering the summons, not meeting another request.

That kind of subtlety appears in many Southern dialects of English, where prepositions do work that Northern speakers don't notice.  (Northern dialects have their own bells and whistles, as does everyone's.)  Southerners are often told to omit prepositions in certain phrases, which is aggravating, because most people don't have the linguistic expertise to explain what the darn thing does.  But if you take it out, to a Southerner, there's a wobble there, like a chair with one leg a hair shorter; it's annoying and it can cause misunderstandings.  Of course, these subtle distinctions are lost anyhow on someone who speaks a different dialect, but it makes a difference to the speaker.

I grew up in the Midwest but have Southern relatives, so my accent is bifocal.  In Illinois, I sound mostly Midwestern.  On a visit to Tennessee, I have a Southern accent as thick as molasses -- and oddly enough, it is also keyed by time and topic.  Talking about certain parts of my childhood or activities such as fishing will turn it on.  Just in case you were curious.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: April 7th, 2014 12:07 am (UTC) (Link)
That sounds very Pennsylvania Dutch to me. Where I grew up in Central PA they would say things like "throw over the fence some hay." Word order owed more to Germanic structure, I think.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)


That's Germanic word order, yes. Jewish dialects often use the same.
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: April 7th, 2014 11:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Well, they're related languages, I believe. Aren't they?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Hebrew and German aren't. Yiddish is a Judeo-German language, so there's a strong overlap. Many of the Jewish languages are meshed with different local cultures.
valarltd From: valarltd Date: April 7th, 2014 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm Midwestern (rural western Missouri) and the phrase was "holler at me." They hollered for you to come in, but hollered at you to do something. (Holler at me also means "call me on the phone")
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 7th, 2014 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)


Fascinating! Thanks for explaining the differences. Yes, I think they're regional dialect variations. Missouri gets into Ozark territory, which is a branch of Southern.
valarltd From: valarltd Date: April 7th, 2014 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hmm...

My Missouri is Kansas City suburb dialect, very different from Ozark. It's different from St. Louis, a little more western, but much more northern and closer to RSE than Ozark.

Mom may worsh her clothes, but she doesn't otherwise sound much different than the newscasters.

And there are MidMissouri Ozark, Bootheel Ozark and Moutain Ozark and they all sound different.
siege From: siege Date: April 10th, 2014 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
And of course "Holla" is short for "giving a callback to friends" or "call me on the phone", depending on context.
8 comments or Leave a comment