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by Abigail Van Buren

Southerners Rise in Force to Defend Their 'Y'alls'

DEAR ABBY: "Keeping It Real in Laguna Beach, Calif." (May 27), who is embarrassed by the dialects of his Southern relatives, should learn some Southern hospitality! Yes, we may say "Ma and Pa," "y'all," "yonder" and "I reckon," but we would not laugh or be embarrassed if a California relative came to visit. We'd be overjoyed and welcoming.

"K.I.R.," get off your high horse and get over yourself! If you visited, we'd show you around town, take you to see friends and relatives, and smother you with affection. We'd have big family gatherings, sit on the front porch and drink lemonade. We would never ridicule your different accent.

Come spend some time with us "hicks." We welcome everyone and are glad to have you. We'll serve you white gravy and homemade buttermilk biscuits, pecan pie and sweet tea. And when you leave, we'll give you a big, air-constricting hug and some "sugar" (Southern slang for kisses) and say, "Y'all come back now, ya hear?" -- GEORGIA GIRL

DEAR GEORGIA GIRL: To heck with "K.I.R." -- invite me! You'll be pleased to know your fellow Southerners came out in force against "K.I.R.'s" uppity attitude. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: "Keeping It Real" is living in a fantasy world -- a sad one at that. Our country is made up of all kinds of people. How can he not see the charm in a simple, down-home accent? Using different regional phrases or expressions doesn't make a person stupid or uneducated -- a fact "K.I.R." might understand if he were more educated himself.

I adore my Southern heritage. I love being able to tell the difference between the drawl of someone from the Carolinas versus the Cajun tones of folks from Louisiana. There's richness to those voices. You can almost hear the history by listening to someone speak. I'd much rather hear about "Ma and Pa" than be repeatedly subjected to words like "dude" or "gnarly." All I can say to "K.I.R." is -- bless your heart! -- PROUD BELLE IN ARKANSAS

DEAR ABBY: Why would "K.I.R." assume that because his Southern family doesn't live in an "uneducated" area, their accents are "fake"? His generalizations show how little he knows about the rich and varied Southern culture. He should read Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty or Truman Capote, or watch a documentary about the South. In other words, educate himself to keep from coming off as embarrassingly shallow in front of his relatives. -- SOUTHERN YANKEE IN TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: The late Lewis Grizzard, an accomplished writer and comedian from Georgia, talked about the differences between Northerners and Southerners in his comedy show. My favorite line about our twang was, "God talks like we do." -- KARLYLE IN KENTUCKY

DEAR ABBY: I had lunch with the CEO of a major corporation. He is Harvard-educated with a doctorate from Berkeley. When he ordered "smashed taters with gravy" no one thought he was a hick. -- SMILING IN SEATTLE

DEAR ABBY: I'm appalled by "K.I.R.'s" pretentious attitude. Anyone spending this much time worrying about the use of "Ma and Pa" clearly has too much time on his hands. He should spend it more constructively, examining why he's so concerned with appearances. -- DAWN IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR ABBY: I'm guessing the country folk are having fun with him. I have a master's degree in English and can quote Milton and Yeats. But around snobs like this, I'd go all "Jed Clampett" so fast he'd think he's been slogwalloped by a she-critter without no young-uns. -- BRIAN IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR ABBY: That fool can kiss my grits! -- KAYE IN VIRGINIA

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)