Kodak Moment

January 9, 2006

Today’s classic A&J is from 2006. I noticed there were a couple of recent comments about the above strip on the GoComics site, comments left by visitors who followed a link from here. They were discussing whether the grammatically awkward “might could” is a regionalism. I like to think I’m a fair-to-middlin’ grammarian, but I do traffic primarily in conversational dialog. When a choice arises, I have to remind myself to have the characters talk as real people talk, not as they were taught to talk in the fifth grade. I do try to avoid regional dialect and local nomenclature, for obvious reasons. Did I slip up here? All I will say is, Mayhaps. I said I would tell you a squirrel story related to the current A&J comic strips, but I’m short of time today. We’ll get to that tomorrow, when Arlo and Janis will still be without electricity.

24 thoughts on “Kodak Moment”

  1. “Might could” was occasionally used in the Midwest in my (long-departed) youth, and if it was known in the Midwest, it musta been fairly common (I mean, we were the standard-setters for middle-class America, right? Right?! Or maybe we just absorbed anything that came our way…).

  2. We sure used “might could” and lots of other phrases that make younger people look at me like I’m dotty (which is one of those words they smile at with the tolerance young give to the old). My family is long-time Oklahoma.

  3. I dunno, Jimmy; I’m pretty sure it’s a regionalism, but don’t know which region (though it seems you do know). I have spent my life in the Midwest (0-18 in OH, 18-almost 65 in IL) except most of one awful year in FL, but I have traveled in about 3/4 of our states, and have probably associated with natives of all 50, and I think I heard someone say “might could” maybe twice; couldn’t tell you where the speakers were from.

    And I can’t wait until She gets back from walking at the Rec Center to hear Her response to this one; the wallpaper on my desktop is a pic of us on my motorcycle in ’84, which She thinks is an awful thing –

    Her: “Why do you have to have that up there to remind yourself we don’t look like that anymore???”
    Me: “I don’t need to be reminded of that; I see it every day; that’s to remind me we did look like that once!”

    She has pretty much destroyed all the bathing suit (or less) pictures.

    • My favorite pic, long since either destroyed or deeply hidden, was of her about 4-5 months pregnant, lying in bed in profile, wearing only her glasses and my stethoscope, listening to her belly, waiting for me. (But not expecting a photo.)

  4. The best writers make us hear each character’s voice and dialect. If a character speaks with perfect diction and grammar, it fits that character’s background and personality: a college professor, for example. If that same character, when angry or panicked, slips into regionalisms, it makes the scene more powerful. And so forth.

  5. I travelled extensively in Louisiana for work back in the early aughts, when I first heard “might could.” I beleive I was in a restaurant in Monroe with some colleagues both local and from away. I’ve never heard it anywhere else, but it is a marvelous turn of phrase.

  6. Re 1-27-21 retro cartoon: Arlo’s favorite bathing suit Janis ever wore? Let me make WAG here and say it was probably the little yellow bikini.
    At least his screen saver wasn’t a digitized version of one of those “Polaroid moments” he found tucked in a book years after the fact.

  7. I AM from Monroe, Louisiana and I see nothing wrong with “might could”..

    Monroe dates back to the early 1700s and has some of the oldest money in America. They educated both men and women way back so a population of upscale Southern good families.

    Only Duck Dynasty satirized bearded Rednecks from the wrong side of the River.


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