The Andy Griffith Show

Here’s why Andy Griffith said, ‘You’re a bird in this world’ and why we should too

I’ve often written about Southern phrases used on “The Andy Griffith Show,” a great example of our colorful language. But there’s one phrase that even confuses linguists who specialize in Southern phrases – that’s because no one ever said it except Andy, according to a recent article on MeTV.com.

An article on MeTV.com said, “Thanks to his folksy, Southern speaking style, Sheriff Andy sure had a way with words, too. In fact, there was one phrase, in particular, he was fond of saying. And it has linguists stumped.” The phrase? “You are a bird in this world.”

Griffith’s character Andy Taylor first uses the phrase in the first season in “The Horse Trader” when he is talking about Barney’s quirky behavior and says, “Barney, I’ll tell you, you are a bird in the world. He later says it to Aunt Bee.

MeTV.com says the National Public Radio show “A Way With Words” attempted to find origins of the phrase in 2014. The hosts, Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, “looked in every dictionary and dialect book — they even did a full text search of newspapers.”

“I don’t see this phrase anyplace else,” Barnette says. Barrett adds: “I think the people who wrote this show coined this phrase. Or else Andy Griffith himself came up with it.” But why? Because it refers to a person’s quirky or odd behavior, the two speculate it could be related to the phrases “rare bird” or “odd duck.” Basically, it’s just one more fun Southern way to say someone is quirky so let’s embrace it. It’s likely to come in handy.

 

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