That's funny 'cuz, despite descending from Virginia slaves and freedmen, no one in my immediate family was born below the Mason-Dixon Line. (The original Mason Dixon Line is depicted, above right, courtesy of Wikipedia>>Mason-Dixon Line). It's also funny 'cuz my southern belle-buddy, Lorraine, is amused by my phraseology, too. At statements like "breaking bread," "brand new penny," and "stinker," the doctorate-holding, deep south denizen giggles like a schoolgirl. At deliberate mispronounciations such as "eye-talian" (Italian) and "grassy-ass" (gracias), old gal guffaws.
As Lorraine's reactions reflect, the phrases and pronounciations that tickle my friends' fancies do not necessarily derive from Dixieland. Rather, they have multifarious etymologies.
That's not surprising, since I enjoy traveling and cultural activities, and was educated in the Northeast. Although the Northeast is the nation's smallest region geographically, it: "contains the greatest density of accent diversity in the country," is ethnically diverse, "is still an entry point for many immigrants," and is a major hub of world trade, tourism and commerce.
*(The IMAGE, above right, Manufacturing Belt in red, provided courtesy of Answers.com>>Manufacuring Belt and Wikipedia>>Manufacturing Belt, depicts a portion of the Northeastern United States.)
All the caveats above notwithstanding, southern roots run deep(ly). Watching Gone With the Wind (1941) yesterday evoked Steve's statement, and reminded me of my Bible and Lynching Belt ancestry. I declare, hearing Scarlett O'Hara (played by Vivien Leigh, nee Vivian Mary Hartley ) chide Prissy (played by Butterfly McQueen, nee Thelma McQueen pictured right, courtesy of Wikipedia>>Butterfly McQueen) for being "as slow as molasses in January" echoed my mother/myself.
Great balls of fire!