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Native Tongues 

Talk Like An Egyptian

ANYMORE: Nowadays. Usually used at the beginning of a sentence, as in "Anymore, you can't walk in that neighborhood at night."

BUCK-UP CREEK: The correct pronunciation of Beaucoup Creek, a small stream in Perry County.

CARBONDALAY: Carbondale, to the students of Southern Illinois University. Like calling Target "Tar-zhay."

CASEY'S: Convenience store found in most small towns with over 1,000 people. The 7-Eleven of the prairie.

THE CHAIN O' LAKES: A network of lakes connected by the Fox River in Lake and McHenry counties. The last outpost of rural living in the Collar Counties. Snowmobiling, waterskiing, fishing, and drinking on your boat are all big pastimes here. Culturally belongs more to Wisconsin than Illinois.

CHILLI: A spicy stew of tomatoes, beef,and beans. The spelling is probably derived form the first four letters of Illinois.

CHILLI MAC: Chilli over spaghetti. Served at all Steak 'n Shake restaurants.

CHEESEHEADS: Wisconsinites.

CHEESE TOASTIE: A grilled cheese sandwich.

CORN 'N' BEANS: Corn and soybeans. The only crops most Downstate farmers grow...

CUBS VS. CARDS: Downstaters are divided between these two baseball teams. A few years ago, a miniature golf course in Decatur took a survey by asking players to hit balls into holes marked with logos of each team. It was a 50-50 split. However, Cardinals fans maintain a sense of superiority, because their team has been to the World Series six times since World War II. Some wear T-shirts bearing a picture of a laughing cardinal rolling on the ground, with the caption "Cubs when? Cubs when?" Nobody Downstate roots for the White Sox.

DRIVING AROUND THE SQUARE: Popular Friday-night activity in rural county seats, especially those that don't have a Dairy Queen.

HAUL BEANS: Drive soybeans to the grain elevator. If you're not hauling beans, you're probably hauling corn.

HORSESHOE: A sandwich of ham, turkey, or hamburger between two slices of toast, covered with french fries, and smothered with cheese sauce. A Springfield delicacy.

I OUGHTA WENT AROUND: What Iowa stands for. Alternately: Idiots Out Walking Around.

LA GUIANNEE: A French New Year's Eve celebration observed in Prairie du Rocher every year since 1722. A few hours before midnight carolers begin traveling from house to house, singing a traditional French begging song and accepting refreshments from those they serenade. La Guiannee dates back to pre-Christian France, and Prairie du Rocher is the only American city where it still takes place.

LAND OF LINCOLN: The Springfield area, where dozens of bars, dry cleaners, laundromats, and muffler repair shops are named for the 16th president, and where every place he stopped to wind his watch has a historical marker commemorating the event.

LITTLE EGYPT: Southern Illinois, below Interstate 70. Towns include Thebes, Karnak, and Cairo (pronounced KARE-oh.) The mascot of Southern Illinois University is the saluki, a north African breed of dog, and the student newspaper is the Daily Egyptian. The book Legends & Lore of Southern Illinois says the region got its name because a hard frost in 1831 forced northern Illinois farmers to travel south to buy corn for their livestock. Like the sons of Jacob in the Bible, they were said to be "going down to Egypt for corn." Other theories say it's because the land around the meeting of the Ohio and the Mississippi resembles the Nile Delta. Some southern Illinoisans object to the term Little Egypt because it was also the name of a famous fan dancer at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. They call their home country simply "Egypt."

METRO EAST: The Illinois suburbs of Saint Louis, generally encompassing Madison and Saint Clair counties. Phyllis Schlafly lives here, in Alton. Jonathon Kozol visited to do research for his book Savage Inequalities, in which he compared the shabby high schools in the East Saint Louis to the snobby one in New Trier Township.

MUSH-A-ROONIN: Hunting for morels in the spring.

QUAD CITIES: Rock Island and Moline on the Illinois side, Davenport and Bettendorf on the Iowa side. In the classic Saturday Night Live sketch "Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute," Dan Akroyd played a polyester gigolo who serviced "the entire Quad Cities area" and looked like he belonged to the Elks Club.

SAN JOSE: Pronounced San JO-zee. One of the many towns founded during the Mexican War by people who had read about conflict in the newspaper, but had never heard anyone speak Spanish. Some others are Sandoval (Sand-O-val), Eldorado (El-duh-ray-do), and Cerro Gordo (SAR-a GOR-do).

SAUGET BALLET: The strip clubs in Sauget.

THE SMELL OF MONEY: The odor of roasting corn and soybeans emanating form the A.E. Staley and Archer Daniels Midland plants in Decatur. Mention it to a native, and he'll respond, "That smells like money to people who work there," then expect you to quit noticing it.

SOUTH OF I-80: Where the real Illinois begins.

SOUTHERN ILLUSION: The Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale's daily newspaper.

SPRINGPATCH: Springfield, to political reporters.

"THE WORLD NEEDS GOD": Motto formerly over the doors of the Montgomery County courthouse in Hillsboro. A Chicagoan and two anonymous litigants from the area sued to have it removed.

WARSHINGTON: Our nations capital. Also, a university across the river in Saint Louis.

"WILL IT PLAY IN PEORIA?": Question Broadway producers asked to determine whether their shows would appeal to Middle America.

--Ted Kleine

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration of sphinx with Lincoln's head by Mike Werner.

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