General Question

KmiberDWZ's avatar

Why do country folk add "boy" or "girl" after saying a person's name?

Asked by KmiberDWZ (125points) 3 weeks ago

“Way to go, Dana-girl!” Or “That’s it, Sammy-boy.”

I’ve always wondered why do they say it, I mean yes it’s a southern thing but why though? Does it mean like some sort of term of affection/endearment? Or do they say it just because? If anyone knows, I’d appreciate it, thanks!

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15 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I haven’t heard this used, but I’ll go out on a limb with a guess that it’s from the English settlers in the South, maybe the Irish. Just thinking of the song Danny Boy, which was written by an Englishman. Many parts of the Southern vernacular stems from the English.

I could be totally wrong in my guess.

Wherever it started I guess it became commonplace among some groups in the South if you hear it a lot.

JLeslie's avatar

You might like the show America’s Secret Slang about the origins of words and phrases. https://play.history.com/shows/americas-secret-slang#episodes

chyna's avatar

It’s a term of endearment. My grandmother used to call me Chyna girl.
I called my first dog Millie dog.

jca2's avatar

I was just thinking of John-Boy Walton (I know I’m dating myself by even remembering the Waltons).

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’ve lived in the South & the country for over 70 years & I know of NO one who does this…other than on TV or in the movies, so I have NO clue!!!

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I only hear it in tourist traps, in my area of the American South.

I agree with @chyna in that it seems to be a term of endearment.

You have to be careful using the word “boy,” in the south.

It is a disrespectful term, when used by itself. That has roots in how masters used to talk to slaves. Refering to a black guy as “boy,” is a no no.
It isn’t just a race thing.

“Boy,” has been used for a LONG time, by men insinuating another man is not his equal.

As with so many words, the context and intonation of the word is everything.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Never heard that in Missouri.

We do use sis/sissy or bro/bubba as terms of affection with our close family/friends.

SnipSnip's avatar

I have never heard this other than on Walton’s Mountain .

seawulf575's avatar

Bless your heart for thinking of the southerners that way. I’ve heard it before but it isn’t as widespread as you might think. It is likely more regional than anything.

If I was to suggest why, it is probably a combination of things. In some families, it is fairly common to name a child after an older relation. Therefore if you are addressing the child in the group that has both, you’d want to add the “boy” or “girl” to differentiate. Another possibility is that it is an offshoot of “sir” and “ma’am”. Southerners are brought up to have respect for others, especially elders. They will frequently refer to people they meet as “sir” or “ma’am”. “Nice to meet you, sir”, “Yessir, it was a long drive to get here”, “No ma’am, I don’t believe I have any room for dessert”. With adding those honorifics, it isn’t out of the realm of reality to see them adding a form of honorific to the children as well.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf575 And that is likely with The Walton’s as his dad was John and Johnboy was the eldest son.
In my area they’d call him JJ for John Jr or just Junior. :)

smudges's avatar

I lived in the South for over 20 years and don’t remember that. It’s in the realm of possibility that I may have heard the “boy” one, but never “girl” except for guuurrrl, which isn’t the same thang

Dutchess_III's avatar

Danny Boy….?

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Are you asking me? Danny Boy is a famous song.

MrGrimm888's avatar

The pipes. The pipes are calling.

Old Irish songs, are usually about drinking, fighting, and/or living in misery until death.

In this case, they are using it as a term of endearment.

It’s actually a VERY deep song.

It speaks volumes of the history of the Irish. An often unrepresented group, when speaking about oppressed people.

Boy, oh boy. Oh boy. Boi.

A boy becomes a man, when he sets aside childish things.

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