Friday, June 17, 2005

fixing to

Peculiar to southern grammer, the phrase fixing to means that something is about to happen. As in, my bee balm and becky shastas are fixing to bloom. The buds are getting bigger by the day.

I suppose this useage came from the idea that one was about to fix or do something to whatever task that needs attention -- I am fixing to get up off this sofa and go mow the lawn. Just gimme a minute.

As a gardener, I keep in my head a running "fixing to" list. Some of the items are merely wishes, but usually the more insistent ones keep coming to mind.


erica said...

ah, but the proper southern pronunciation is "fixin' to" ;-)

Don said...

Good point.

mobile jones said...

I was truly surprised to find that people outside the south don't use this phrase, when I began traveling to other regions as a young adult. The idea of "fixin' tah" do something as in " To make ready; prepare:" was uncommon in other regions. In the south, emphasis was placed on not only doing something, but also the preparations for acting. Perhaps, it stems from the additional burden of any action under the canopy of moist humid air that covers the south, but I think there's another better explanation.

An old world sort of formality still existed in the south of my youth. Great premium has always been placed upon appearances over reality, beauty, and perfection. Therefore, one never "did" a thing without giving thought to it's preparation with care. Acting without making ready or perparing was considered to act carelessly. You will find the results of this way of thinking is many examples of southern social behavior.

In the south, preparing for a meal is more of a demonstration of care than the actual meal itself. It was considered rude to present yourself at even family's home for a meal and not participating in the delivery of that meal. One does not simply show up with a bottle of wine. You must set the table, help in the kitchen or assist with dishes to communicate your care, appreciation or thoughtfulness. And certainly, no one would dream of having guests in their home without preparing for their arrival by cleaning, cooking and dressing for the occassion. The concepts of care, pride and hospitality were made palpable in "fixing to."

My southern upbringing revealed the phrase being more related to the above line of thinking, rather than to a device of procrastination.

Don said...

Hmm... very interesting observation. I didn't think of "fixing to" as a tool for procrastination as much as a stage of thinking or preparing about doing something. Of course, I grew up in Central Texas, mostly in pre-AC days, so maybe we moved a bit slower and look for opportunities to think a bit before actually doing anything.

I've always thought that southern grammar worked to: soften bad news or criticism and allowed the speaker to change course or thought in mid-stream, depending on the speaker's judgment of reactions to what was being said.