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Monday, January 26, 2009

Appalachian A B C's

This post is about Appalachian English or Mountain Speech, whichever you want to call it.

People often make fun of the language of the mountain folk of the Appalachians.

But I don't regard the speech of these old folks and mountaineers as bad or poor English.
I regard it as colorful and beautiful .

These mountain people lived in partial isolation and their customs, speech and traditions were passed down through the generations.

Many words are still used today, but unfortunately, this colorful language is on the way out, forgotten and vanishing.

They favored r's, liked to add a to the beginning of a word, put un on the end of a word and took the 'g' out of words ending in 'ing'.

Here are a few for you to enjoy.

A is for All-git-out. He was as big as all-git-out!

B is for Book Read. Well informed, well educated.
is for Beholdin'.
I'd be beholdin' to you if you could do that for me.

C is for Crick. A stiffness. I got a crick in my neck.

D is for Druthers.
is for Directly.
Later. I'll get to that directly.

E is for (help me here, I can't believe I can't think of an E word)

F is for Fell-off.
Lose weight.
is for Fetch.
Fetch me a piece of cake.

G is for Gully Washer.
Very hard rain. It came a gully washer last night.
is for Guam.
a mess

H is for Hesh up.
Quiet down.
is for Hankering.
I have a hankering for a piece of pie.

I is for If'n.
If. I'll go with you if'n it's all right.

J is for Jinly.
Generally; usually.

K is for Kiver.
Quilt, blanket, etc.

L is for Layin' off.
Postponing. I've been layin' off to get the roof fixed.

M is for Mater.
A red thing that grows on a vine.

N is for Nary.
Not any. I ain't got nary a one.

O is for Order.
Ought to. He order go home now.

P is for Peaked.
Thin, pale or sickly looking.
is for Peert.
Lively, sprightly, pert. You look right peert today.
is for Plum or Plumb.
completely. I'm plum tuckered out.
is for Ponm'onor.
upon my honor
is for Piece.
is for Poke.
brown paper bag

Q is for Quair.
Strange, eccentric

R is for Rat cheer.
Right here. She sat rat cheer.
is for Reckon.
I reckon I can do that.
is for Right Smart.
A long ways. It's a right smart piece down the road.

S is for Sair.
Not sweet. That dill pickle is sair.
is for Swan.
Declare to be true.

T is for Tuckered Out.
Tired. I'm all tuckered out.
is for Tolerable. How are you feeling Grandma? Oh, tolerable.

U is for ( help me out here, too. Give me some U words)

V is for
Vittles. Food.

W is for Warsh.
Wash. To clean.
is for Wooden.
I'd rather live in West Virginia than anywhere else, wooden you?

X is for (any X words?)

Y is for Yonder.
there Our house is over yonder.
is for Young'un.
a young child You young'uns are driving me crazy.

Z is for Zackly.

How many more can you add to the list? A right smart I'd say.
Let me hear your words, if'n you have any.
I'm all tuckered out and got a crick in my neck.


  1. My Ohio mother in law warshed the clothes and ret up the table and put her clean clothes in the press. I love it and the simpler way of life it contains.
    Roberta Anne

  2. This post shore was a good-un Janet.
    I swan I heared most of 'em when I growed up here.

    I lived away for Appalachia for 30 years and lost most traces of the language except for you-all and yonder. To this day my son asks me where is yonder.

  3. Hi from Wood Co.! This was a great post! I'm sorry, but I "cain't" think of other letter words either. But I do feel like sharing this little tidbit. My Dad always correct me when I call lunch "lunch", or dinner "dinner". It's supposed to be dinner and supper. ;-)

    He still has a lot of the old language, but the only example I can think of off hand, is "warsh". He grew up and still lives in Calhoun Co.

  4. Love this post. I guess cause I can relate. I grew up in the Appalachians and I knew almost all of those!!
    Still use most of them today. People pick on me. I don't care. Love me for who I am!

  5. LOVE this post!

    I am so into language, and I especially LOVE dialects.

    I teach English as a second language and if any of my students are ever going to head to WV, I'm gonna print this out for them!

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. I can't think of ana E word either. I'll bet Vera could think of some words. You've done quite well. When I read those words, I think of Grandma. I miss grandma and would be great if they could have lived on with us so our grandkids could know them. Here I go, getting all teary eyed.

    Love you, sis.

  7. I'm from Alabama and I use most of those words all the time! lol One that my grandmothers used alot was 'hope' instead of help..they'd say "she hope me out while I was sick.' lol My 80 yr old Aunt says 'I swannie' when she gets excited! lol I love the simple & I know some folks think it is a form of being uneducated but I'd rather hear it any day than a bunch of mile long words that are so fancy and up to do you need a dictionary just to know someone said hello to you! Why can't we just speak from the heart and be real! lol Great post girl...
    Thanks for coming by and visiting and now I am off to steal...copy that pineapple pie recipe you have...I love pineapple anything! lol Have a great week my friend!

  8. Janet-loved this post. I've heard all the ones you listed-and used most of them myself! I'm going to think about the X I was thinking xactly but you used it for the Z.

  9. love the appalachians - my book is set in those mountains :) Thx for visiting my blog :)

  10. What do you mean this is a lost language? We still speak it here in East Texas:) I wanted to add crick is a creek too. Great list Janet:)

  11. Even though I have lived away from the mountains for "many a year," I still have my West Virginia accent and I'm proud of it. When I lived in Oklahoma, people would always ask me if I was from Texas. Now living in Florida people want to know if I'm from Alabama. I proudly proclaim that I'm from the WV mountains. I "reckon" I'll always give that answer.

  12. My Great Aunt Stachie Edens used to say..Lawdy Lawdy Lawdy..I find my self saying that sometimes since I am older, and I think of her.


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