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Blast from the past

January 03, 2007

Week of Jan. 1, 1957

Frederick County hopes to help to finance new schools by taxing tobacco.

The Frederick County Commissioners have authorized the preparation of legislation that would provide a tax similar to a levy now in effect in Carroll and Montgomery counties.

They reported that it would probably be a two-cent or three-cent tax on cigarettes per package, and a graduated tax on cigars.

The commissioners said that they have decided to recommend such a tax to forestall - if possible - increases in taxes on real estate and personal property for school construction.

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Week of Jan. 1, 1982

If you've lived in this here Warshington County all your life, you know that a chimley is the thing on your house that smoke comes out of.

You know that when you want to take a picture, you have to put fillum in your camera.

And when a stimulating thought comes to your head, you call it an idee.

If you're from Warshington County, you also warsh your hands before you eat, and you poosh yourself away from the table when you're finished.

But those there aren't the only talkin' words that identify you as a native Warshington Countian.

When you look at a flower that foreigners call a dahlia, you see a dally instead. And if you have friends in a small Frederick County town on the Potomac River, they certainly don't live in Point of Rocks. They live in Pointy Rocks.

Native Warshington Countians have their own particular way of speaking, says Alfred P. Fehl, and if your hearing is really acute, you can even tell from what part of the county someone hails.

Those north of Boonsboro, for instance, refer to a married woman as Missus; those from the south, on the other hand, say Mizzus.

Fehl, a native of Smithsburg and student of dialects, has studied Washington County speech characteristics for more than 40 years.

Contrary to common opinion, Washington County speech is not so much southern as midland. Fehl said Washington County falls within the Susquehanna Valley area, which is akin to Pennsylvania. Except for the county's southernmost tip, most natives here speak with a midlands accent. And many of their words are taken literally from the German language, or are literal translations, according to Fehl.

Some words used commonly are of Scottish-Irish origin. A paper bag, for example, is a "poke." And the devil is the "deil."

But the German culture above all is "deep-seeded" here, Fehl said.

Some expressions are literal translations right out of the German language, Fehl said. "People will say, 'It wonders me' or 'I'll be finished in a pair of minutes,' or 'I won't go without you go too.'"

Fehl said a common misconception is that the Washington County dialect is a derivative of Pennsylvania-Dutch.

"Really, it's the Pennsylvania-German," he said. "The Dutch comes from Deutch, which means German."

Fehl said some expressions have become a natural part of the Washington County dialect over the years - even though they are grammatically incorrect.

As for poosh (push), boosh (bush) and cooshin (cushion), Fehl said those pronunciations can be found just about anywhere.

Fehl, who still says Bawlmer (Baltimore) added, "In Massachusetts, they tell me I sound like a southerner. If I went to Charleston, South Carolina, they'd tell me I sound like a Yankee."

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