In the South, the extraneous “at”.
I love regional variations in language. Being from Virginia, I’m most familiar with the alternate uses and abuses of language in the south. I use quite a few of them.
There is one, however, that I simply can’t wrap my mind around. (“Around where I can’t wrap my mind,” for the Grammar Police.)
When someone wants to know where you are located, they don’t ask, “Where are you?” They ask:
“Where are you at?
At? Huh? “Where are you?” isn’t sufficient?
In the north, the extraneous use of two “ones.”
I thought the addition of extraneous words to common phrases was a southern phenomenon until I visited a friend in Mississauga, Ontario.
Marian was very well-spoken, and unlike me, pronounced the consonants at the end of words. Never in my life did I expect her to utter anything less than standard English. I was shocked into silence when, while shopping, she asked:
“Which do you like better? These ones or those ones?”
My jaw dropped. I made a fish face. Ones? Two of them? Surely this wasn’t the person that I knew saying that.
I have since heard people from upstate New York use the same expression. I would understand, “These or those?” or “These [insert plural noun of your choice] or those [plural noun]?” But both? Huh-uh.
Why do people add words to a sentence when they aren’t necessary??
I have two theories.
This one: In the south there are too many unused “ats” (and in the north, too many “ones”) wandering around. They have to be used up lest we be overcome by them.
That one: Regional misuses help the natives identify the interlopers.
I have to admit that though I claim a southern heritage, I do not, nor have I ever, asked anyone where they are at.
But one day I saw a sign in Target that displayed two styles or sandals. No one was more surprised that I when I spied the sandals on the rack and blurted,
“Look! They have these ones and those ones!”