When I saw the headline in the Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail (Oct. 7) "Speaking in twangs…" I thought it most likely referred to those people inspired by the Spirit in church who had begun speaking in mysterious unknown twangs.|
However, it was a story by Tara Tuckwiller dealing with West Virginians talking right funny and not knowing nothing no ways about good grammar, according to some experts. Some time back there was a Gazette story about The Greenbrier (and note the capitalized THE to distinguish the one and only Greenbrier from a whole mess of other briers in Greenbrier) having a problem with local help not talking real good and which presented an employment problem for management.
Kelly Ragan, of the Gazette, quoted Selina Cahill, who is called director of training at The Greenbrier, at considerable length. Ms. Cahill, in turn, later wrote a right smart piece herself denying many of the quotes Ragan attributed to her. (I don't know whether Kelly Ragan is a his or a ms. And I won't assume just because the writing is good that it was written by a man because of my recent studies dealing with feminine sensitivity and the feminine movement for which I put in extra hours observing at both Morgantown malls.)
Ms. Cahill went on something terrible about how she was misquoted in the Ragan piece, especially after The Greenbrier received a brodacious amount of correspondence protesting changing the speech pattern of what to the visitors must be charming and quaint hill people that many of them wish to observe in their native habitat, if The Greenbrier can be considered native. (Some people think it was misplaced in the wrong Virginia and there has been resentment ever since by many who have found themselves on the wrong side of the mountain in the illegitimate one, whose name they can never remember.)
Now, Kelly Ragan shouldn't be upset by a source doing a little squirming after finding that her quotes aren't exactly pleasing to everyone involved. I assume the Gazette doesn't hire just anyone off the street-well, maybe to write editorials-and that Ragan was exposed to Journalism 101 whereby he/she learned that direct quotes in a news story should be written pretty much as spoken, except as I have found from my own experience, changed around a little if they add a bit more interest to an otherwise dull interview.
Anyway, I have long ago formed my own quaint opinions about The Greenbrier of which I have never darkened the doorway or said a funny word on the premises. During all my years of wallowing in the slime at the public trough on The Payroll I had numerous opportunities to go there for meetings, seminars and retreats which might have aided my stalled advancement, all expenses covered by the generous unknowing public . I would like to say my inclination was to respect the taxpayers, but as I was a practitioner of the consecutive coffee break, prolonged lunch hours, and "bad weather days" when snowfall amounted to two inches or more I would be lying.
I didn't go to The Greenbrier because I accepted the fact early on that I was a clod and not worthy of it. I had heard rumors that at some dinners there were more forks than one at a place setting and extra spoons as well and that sometimes there was a little bowl of water at the table in which you were to wash your hands. As my mother always taught me to wash before coming to the table I attributed the latter item, if true, to a confusion with the Good Book where we are instructed to wash our neighbor's feet. The Greenbrier may have its own peculiar religious customs as far as I know.
My idea of elegant dining has always been an establishment where the eating utensils arrive encased in clear plastic and consist of only one fork, one knife and one spoon, each itself made of durable plastic. Extra implements are never needed even when I break the tines on the fork trying to cut up tough meat as I revert to the spoon with ease. When all else fails I utilize the old Teutonic technique of using my fingers, all of which The Greenbrier might find, well, a bit quaint.
If many people go, as I believe they do, to The Greenbrier because they are charmed by the peculiar habits and syntax of the native workers, then I believe I might be an asset as an employee. I still can speak good hillease-not long ago a man thought I was from Charleston when I called the town downriver from it "Snalbans"-and I can blush and say "aw shucks" if paid a compliment, and especially so if a tip of 50 cents or more is included with it.
With the name Tuckwiller I figure Ms. Tara will be accepted at The Greenbrier regardless of how she talks-or writes, which she does real good. My greatest worry is that I have been up here on the Pennsylvania line for so long that I may have lost some of my innate abilities.
You'uns don't suppose?