1

These two phrases are from Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. I'm not sure, but I guess the first one (light'ud knots) is talking about a woman who can handle problems easily and is kinda independent. As for 'hind f'omus, I guess Jim is right in his comment below that it must be "behind from us".

Here are the paragraphs:

Don’t you know how to catch a woman, honey? Women like for their men to be masterful and at the same time remote, if you can pull that trick. Make them feel helpless, especially when you know they can pick up a load of light’ud knots with no trouble. Never doubt yourself in front of them, and by no means tell them you don’t understand them.”

and

You’re sort of ’hind f’omus, Miss Scout. You sort of haven’t caught up with yourself … now if you’d been raised on a farm you’da known it before you could walk, or if there’d been any women around—if your mamma had lived you’da known it—”

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    I could guess, however these are not common phrases. We need plenty of context to answer properly. Please say where you found them and give a link if possible. Thank you. – chasly from UK Aug 3 '15 at 20:33
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    Those are most probably words in quoted speech by someone who does not speak the King's English (or even the Jester's). There's no hope of guessing their meaning without significant context. – Hot Licks Aug 3 '15 at 20:48
  • Well they are guessable, e.g. 'hind-foremost", but that's not the point. – chasly from UK Aug 3 '15 at 21:04
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    Yep, reminds me of the colloquial phrase "where'd'ell's d' context?" – Sven Yargs Aug 3 '15 at 21:51
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    The first might be a highly contracted and colloquial behind from us as in “Hey quit trying to cut in line, go stand behind from us. – Jim Aug 4 '15 at 2:29
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I suspect light'ud knots is supposed to be a contraction of lightwood knots. You can Google, and find the alternate spelling light'ood knots.

"Lightwood knots" are knots of pine wood that burn easily.

The Dictionary of Regional American English has many regional expressions for:

joints of pine wood that burn easily and make good fuel.

Two names for these given in DARE are lightwood knots and lighterd knots. In a non-rhotic dialect (found in Southern dialects and AAVE), light'ud knots and lighterd knots would be pronounced very similarly.

For "'hind f'omus", I expect it can't be figured out except by context. Lack of context is why your question is being downvoted and in danger of being closed. Please give the few sentences where you found this expression.

2

I think this is Harper Lee's attempt at dialect spelling. If you read it aloud with a southern accent (emphasis on the first word), it sounds close to "hind-foremost." This meaning also fits the context of the passage, which is Calpurnia (the Finch's African American caregiver) answering Jean Louise about why no one has previously explained to her "the facts of life." Calpurnia searches for an answer, and comes up with the above quotation. When Jean Louise first got her period, she freaked out, so Calpurnia and Atticus decided to wait on providing more details about sexual maturity. Absent this knowledge, Jean Louise thinks she is pregnant due to a French kiss, and tries to kill herself. She is prevented from this, and that is when Calpurnia finally gives her the facts.

  • That sounds right for " 'hind fo'mos " to me. It also fits the context. It would mean "back to front" or "having the cart before the horse". Or even "arse about face" to be a bit more earthy. – BoldBen Sep 10 '16 at 11:38

protected by user140086 May 19 '16 at 19:03

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