Miz Mam'selle Hepzibah - Dialogue and "swamp-speak"

Dialogue and "swamp-speak"

The strip was notable for its distinctive and whimsical use of language. Kelly, a native northeasterner, had a sharply perceptive ear for language and used it to great humorous effect. The predominant vernacular in Pogo, sometimes referred to as "swamp-speak," is essentially a rural southern U.S. dialect laced with nonstop malapropisms, fractured grammar, "creative" spelling and mangled polysyllables such as "incredibobble" and "hysteriwockle," plus invented words such as the exasperated exclamations "Bazz Fazz!," "Rowrbazzle!" and "Moomph!" The resulting dialect is difficult to characterize, but the following fragment of dialogue (excerpted from a 1949 strip reproduced in the collection Pogo, published by Post-Hall Syndicate in 1951) may convey the general flavor:

Pogo has been engaged in his favorite pastime, fishing in the swamp from a flat-bottomed boat, and has hooked a small catfish. "Ha!" he exclaims, "A small fry!" At this point Hoss-Head the Champeen Catfish, bigger than Pogo himself, rears out of the swamp and the following dialogue ensues:

Hoss-Head : Chonk back that catfish chile, Pogo, afore I whops you!
Pogo: Yassuree, Champeen Hoss-Head, yassuh yassuh yassuh yassuh yassuh...
Pogo : Things gettin' so humane 'round this swamp, us folks will have to take up eatin' MUD TURKLES!
Churchy (a turtle) : Horroars! A cannibobble!
Howland : You say you gone eat mud turkles! Ol' Churchy is done overcame!
Pogo: It was a finger of speech—I apologize! Why, I LOVES yo', Churchy LaFemme!
Churchy : With pot licker an' black-eye peas, you loves me, sir—HA! Us is through, Pogo!

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