E Carolyn Brown Tucker, Ph.D.

Author    Speaker    Consultant

Mimosa Hill Blog

Mimosa Hill Blog

Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 4 of 6: Language Predicts Communication Success

Posted on May 10, 2016 at 1:15 AM

My husband (I will call him, Sidekick) and I make a very good team for illustrating the contrasting aspects of culture—a rather interesting, juxtaposed team. Consider this: I was born and reared in the Rural South. I’ve lived there practically my whole life—67years. Yet my language patterns and vocabulary are more reflective of the academic cultures of the Midwest. Extensive academic experiences on multiple college campuses, an investigation of Southern Rural Culture—including intensive data collection through surveys, interviews, and document analysis for the process of writing a 410-page dissertation: The Interrelationships of Parent Rural Values, Parent Religiosity, Parent Involvement, and Student Outcomes in a Small Southern, Rural Middle School (2004). I also studied other high-level courses for the completion of a doctor of philosophy degree in Educational Leadership. As a result, I reflect language patterns of the Midwest.

     Sidekick, on the other hand, was born and reared in the Northern Midwest, where he learned to read, write, and otherwise communicate. However, at the age of seventeen, he immigrated to the Rural South with his family, completed his bachelor’s degree there, married a Southern Belle, raised his own family, and lived the rest of his days on a most typical Southern Rural farm while employed by a textbook example of a Good Old Boy and totally immersed in Southern Rural Culture. As a result, Sidekick reflects Southern Rural language patterns.

     Now, for the illustration.

     One aspect that identifies Southern Rural Culture very quickly to an observer is the culture aspect of language: oral and written.

     Every year of our 45-year marriage, almost every day, I have asked of Sidekick, “What’s the weather going to be like today?”

     Because he has been employed as a farmer for almost all of those 45 years, Sidekick is primarily concerned with precipitation, in any form, in any amount, in any duration. So he invariably replies, “It’s going to rain most of the morning with an accumulation of about three inches by noon” or something of that nature. His answer always reflects water.

     Keeping in mind that I have asked him the same question since Day One, and I explained on Day One that (as a teacher) I intended by “weather” to mean “temperature.” Understand, I need to know how to dress so that I don’t freeze or suffocate during my supervision of students outside at lunch break or during the afternoon “Coke Break.” I keep an umbrella and raincoat for any chance of precipitation, so I don’t really need to know the prediction of water fall in any form, in any amount, or in any duration (unless it is snow and we get the day off—which occurs only during a couple of months a year for a very limited number of days). I want to hear what the temperature is going to be.

     Sidekick, the ultimate farmer that he is, ALWAYS watches at least four weather reports a day. He also, the ultimate spouse that he is, SHOULD know that I need a temperature prediction when I ask the inevitable question. But, consistent with his Southern Rural language pattern, he hears, “What’s the precipitation going to be today?” when I always mean (according to my learned, non-farmer Midwest language pattern), “What’s the temperature going to be today?”

     It would seem that, the intelligent people that we are, we should have learned after 45 years. Have we? Nope. The culture overrides our ears. He hears what his culture has taught him. I say what my culture dictates. And I expect come Monday morning, I’ll ask, “What’s the weather supposed to be like today?” I have no doubts his reply will reflect water fall.

     I can tell you, I’ve tried to stop asking. I’ve asked him to answer with the information I need. But culture is so basic, it seems to kick in before logic does. Ho Hum. I guess I’ll have to invest in a weather predictor.



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