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Teetotally Appalachian English
Backcountry Notes ^ | March 12, 2010 | Jay Henderson

Posted on 03/12/2010 6:19:58 AM PST by jay1949

The unenlightened assume that Appalachian accents and usages are a “hillbilly” corruption of the flatlands Southern drawl. This is not so; the accents and usages of the Backcountry developed contemporaneously with the versions of English spoken in the other areas of European settlement. The society and culture of the Backcountry were dominated by the large numbers of Scotch-Irish immigrants, blended with the influence of German, Dutch, Welsh, Scottish, and yeoman English settlers. Appalachian speech developed from the versions of English introduced by these settlers, independently of the development of the Southern drawl and the Yankee accent of New England. The traditional speech and vocabulary of the Backcountry is not a "corrupt" dialect. It is in certain respects more true to its roots than other versions of American English.

(Excerpt) Read more at backcountrynotes.com ...


TOPICS: History; Society
KEYWORDS: appalachia; appalachian; appalachianenglish; dialect; language
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1 posted on 03/12/2010 6:19:58 AM PST by jay1949
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To: jay1949

Interesting, bookmarking to read later.


2 posted on 03/12/2010 6:22:45 AM PST by alicewonders
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To: jay1949

I remember reading something one time where the author said that if you could go back in time to England and the Colonies in the early 18th century, everybody would sound like “backwoods” Americans do now.


3 posted on 03/12/2010 6:24:32 AM PST by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (We bury Democrats face down so that when they scratch, they get closer to home.)
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To: jay1949

I’ve read that the largest group of unintergrated White people left in the world today are those living in the Appalachian Mountains.


4 posted on 03/12/2010 6:26:13 AM PST by blam
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

Not everybody; it would depend on the area. Settlers from the Scottish-English Borderlands, above Hadrian’s Wall, and from Northern Ireland would speak alike, regardless of where they had settled — some Scotch Irish came in through Georgia and SC, others went to areas in New England, for example. Settlers from southern England already had developed different usages. One area which remained isolated for a time was Manteo-Elizabeth City, NC, where traditional speakers pronounce “i” as “oi” or “oy”, as in “It’s hoy toid at Buxton” (”It’s high tide . . .”). Compare the strong “i” in Appalachian speech — it would be “high tide” here, and the same strong, clipped “i” sound would turn up in “light” and “might”, and so on.


5 posted on 03/12/2010 6:33:29 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: jay1949

Yes bookmark


6 posted on 03/12/2010 6:35:12 AM PST by mel
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To: blam

Possibly, although that observation may fail to take into account the frequent intermarriage with Cherokees and other Native Americans (my wife has enough Cherokee to qualify for tribal membership, should she ever desire to do so).


7 posted on 03/12/2010 6:36:38 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: jay1949

Very sad to report that the fine old Appalachian dialect is disappearing very fast.

I recently spent the night in soutwestern Virginia. A visit to the local Walmart Supercenter gave ample evidence that most natives above the age of about 25 still speak in the dulcet tones of the classic mountain twang.

But the teenaged waitresses at IHOP and Cracker Barrel all sound like Britney Spears.

So I predict that in 50 years, almost everybody in Appalachia will be speaking the “Valley
Girl” dialect.

Ugh!


8 posted on 03/12/2010 6:36:45 AM PST by Hawthorn
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus

My mother and other family were raised in a country town in Arkansas, quite frequently i hear words that make me think of early times. they say ye and arsh taters for potatoes etc. It is sad to think they will be gone soon and that type of speaking. as far as i know it.


9 posted on 03/12/2010 6:36:54 AM PST by mel
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To: blam

I don’t understand what you mean by “unintegrated”???

Quite a lot of Appalachian folk have Ani-Yun-Wiya (Tsalagi or Cherokee) bloodlines intermingled with English, Scots/Irish, German, Dutch. etc....Often there is also African in there as well...though not as much as the early Appalachians couldn’t afford slaves even if they had wanted them.

I was told by an english professor at the University of Tennessee that the mountain dialect was as close to true “Olde English” as America had to offer...(BTW, I am born and raised in the mountains and my ancestry is Ani-Yun-Wiya and Scots/Irish...)


10 posted on 03/12/2010 6:38:52 AM PST by Boonie
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To: Hawthorn
Right on point, H. Television will eventually kill off most of our regional dialects. The next generation, like, will all go, like, like, youknow. All the more reason to voice-record dialectical speakers while we can. Not just in Appalachia -- DownEast Maine also, for example (I love the DownEast accent!)
11 posted on 03/12/2010 6:41:24 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: jay1949

>> One area which remained isolated for a time was Manteo-Elizabeth City, NC, where traditional speakers pronounce “i” as “oi” or “oy” <<

Similar story for the dialect of Tangier Island, which is in the Chesapeake Bay between Maryland and Virginia.

Moreover, you can even hear faint echoes of the same pronunciation and lilt in the speech of very old folks who grew up on the “eastern shore” of Maryland and nearby areas of southern Delaware.


12 posted on 03/12/2010 6:42:45 AM PST by Hawthorn
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To: mel

Ye don’t say? There’s still a few of us ‘round these parts. ;-)


13 posted on 03/12/2010 6:43:14 AM PST by OB1kNOb (“Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it." - Mark Twain)
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To: jay1949

jay...You do excellent work...Thank you very much for your postings...

Have you ever looked into the Melungeons of Middle Tennessee?


14 posted on 03/12/2010 6:43:29 AM PST by Boonie
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To: OB1kNOb

They are around Jonesboro, but lived in Cash in northeast Arkansas. Sadly those days are gone because now they bus to a more urban school and it just isn’t the same little country town. Now they just use double negatives.


15 posted on 03/12/2010 6:46:18 AM PST by mel
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To: OB1kNOb

They are around Jonesboro, but lived in Cash in northeast Arkansas. Sadly those days are gone because now they bus to a more urban school and it just isn’t the same little country town. Now they just use double negatives.


16 posted on 03/12/2010 6:46:19 AM PST by mel
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To: jay1949

’ It is in certain respects more true to its roots than other versions of American English.

Speck so... I reckon.


17 posted on 03/12/2010 6:46:32 AM PST by Leg Olam
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To: Boonie

I have read about the Melungeons from time to time, and there is a group which is doing a good job of collecting information and literature. Genetic studies would be interesting. On non-Melungeons, as well . . . the incidence of blue-eyed, dark-brown-haired persons is much higher in Southern Appalachia than elsewhere; I believe this to be genetically tied to the Picts of the Borderlands. Along with the blue eyes and dark brown hair, there is often a distaste for fin-fish, which the Romans observed to be a characteristic of the Picts.


18 posted on 03/12/2010 6:48:06 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: jay1949

Your threads always make for interesting reading. Thanks.


19 posted on 03/12/2010 6:48:41 AM PST by bricklayer
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To: jay1949

>> Television will eventually kill off most of our regional dialects. <<

Yep. And it’s not only “our” regional dialects:

I had a chance at Christmastide to exchange views on the matter with a woman who spent most of her childhood in Yorkshire and still has family there — a place whose traditional dialect is very nearly a foreign language for us spearkers of “standard” English.

My friend said — with apparent sadness — that her teenaged nephews and nieces in Yorkshire now speak entirely with a “London” dialect. So it seems that Merry Old England will also lose her regional dialects over the next 50 years.


20 posted on 03/12/2010 6:50:53 AM PST by Hawthorn
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To: jay1949

He might have meant the Scots-Irish and Lowland Scots....I read it several years ago.

Scots and Scots-Irish are what most of my people are. In fact, my family name is a misspelling (people weren’t all that literate back then, shall we say) of one of the oldest clans in Scotland, said by some historians to be a fusion of Dalraidan settlers from the 6-7th centuries and the native Picts.


21 posted on 03/12/2010 6:51:06 AM PST by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (We bury Democrats face down so that when they scratch, they get closer to home.)
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To: jay1949

22 posted on 03/12/2010 6:52:42 AM PST by stormer
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To: bricklayer

Thank ye kindly!


23 posted on 03/12/2010 6:58:04 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: jay1949

Thanks, Jay, Fascinating subject!

I have often wondered where the Scots-Irish dialect came from as I was raised with it. I believe the author of the book on the battle of King’s Mountain (can’t recall his name right now) commented that they all spoke an unusual dialect when he was a child, I suppose meaning something like Lowland Scots (Lallands). this would have been in the late 1700’s.

Certainly different from the ‘Cavalier’ accent from the non-hills south.

My guess has long been that the pronouciation of ‘i’ and ‘u’ as ‘oi’ is a coastal dialect. One finds that along the southern coasts from New Orleans to Delaware. old-timers in New Orleans both black and white say ‘choich’ for church and ‘nois’ for ‘nurse’, just as you mentioned regarding the SC coastal accent.

As for the dark hair and blue eyes, I have found two mentions of that. One is in a study from the 1900s(also can’t recall who, I am out of reach of my library shelves right now)in the British Isles that found the greatest number of dark-haired, blue-eyed people were to be found in the south-eastern areas of ireland and the south-western areas of Wales, Cornwall.

I believe it was Stephen Oppenheimer quoting an early study.

Also a mention from another author, something to the effect that the people of south-eastern France were typically black-haired, blue-eyed people.

I have several relatives with that coloring, it’s quite startling.

But the origins of the hills dialect still eludes me. It certainly is different from the northeastern. You caan hear people in England even now that sound similar to northeasterners. But the speech patterns of, say, KY, TN, NC and hills SC is distinct.

I would be very sorry if America were to lose that pattern but it seems to be going that way.


24 posted on 03/12/2010 7:02:33 AM PST by squarebarb
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To: mel

My 88 year old mother stills says “Going outdoors” for meaning the bathroom. She has had indoor plumbing for as long as I can remember. I have to explain some of her speech to my 16 year old. He just laughs.


25 posted on 03/12/2010 7:02:37 AM PST by timeflies
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To: jay1949; Boonie
>> Genetic studies would be interesting. <<

Genetic studies on Melungeon ancestry are well along.

They show overwhelming European ancestry, with a significant amount of African input. But the Native American contribution is extremely small -- a finding that of course is going to disappoint a lot of Melungeon descendants.

On the other hand, a significant amount of "Mediterranean" DNA has been found among some Melungeon families, which lends credence to the old claims by 19th century Melungeons that they were "Portugee."

For a pretty good reference, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melungeon

26 posted on 03/12/2010 7:06:59 AM PST by Hawthorn
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To: Hawthorn

Thanks for the link — interesting article.


27 posted on 03/12/2010 7:13:33 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: timeflies

My nearly 96 year old grandmother, born and raised in Southern WV has some good ‘uns in her vocabulary.


28 posted on 03/12/2010 7:13:56 AM PST by Carpe Cerevisi
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To: Hawthorn

Thank you...


29 posted on 03/12/2010 7:19:21 AM PST by Boonie
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To: jay1949
Jay, you are dead on right. There is a country song with the line, “I learned to talk like the man on the six o'clock news.” That explains where all of our regional accents are going. I think we are poorer for it. But I am an old man, so what I think no longer counts.
30 posted on 03/12/2010 7:21:34 AM PST by Tupelo
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To: jay1949

This is a very interesting article.

When we were living in the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland, our church bought land to build a new church building just over the Delaware line. It was expected to be a straight forward project to build the church ( about a year).

Ah!...What we didn’t know was the foundation of the building sat right on the line where the Piedmont ridge began. Half the foundation would be on the firm granite of the Piedmont Ridge and the other half would be on the softer alluvial land that formed the Eastern Shore. BIG problem!

Five years later we finally opened the doors on our new church.


31 posted on 03/12/2010 7:22:50 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid!)
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To: jay1949

Thanks for posting this. I’d always wondered about the origins of different dialects. Texan here, with roots all over the south.


32 posted on 03/12/2010 7:29:00 AM PST by manic4organic (Obama shot hoops, America lost troops.)
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To: jay1949

Bump!

This is a very interesting post. I recommend it.


33 posted on 03/12/2010 7:33:49 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid!)
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To: stefanbatory; muawiyah
What accent??

lol

34 posted on 03/12/2010 7:33:56 AM PST by hennie pennie
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To: jay1949
Colloquial language, accents and spellings used to be what made each area of our country unique and gave it flavor. That ended after the Civil War when public schooling became popular and a certain group of Americans decided exactly what is and is not proper American English. Students were instructed in this new English and were taught to be ashamed of their own local colloquialisms, spellings and pronunciations. This has led to our more bland language of today and the vilification of those who still do not comply.

Sadly, today the only celebrated colloquial language is that of urban blacks.

35 posted on 03/12/2010 7:41:53 AM PST by Between the Lines (AreYouWhoYouSayYouAre? Esse Quam Videri - To Be, Rather Than To Seem)
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To: Tupelo

You and me both, brother.


36 posted on 03/12/2010 7:43:55 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: wintertime; manic4organic

Many thanks.

PS — Good rule: Don’t mess with Texas!


37 posted on 03/12/2010 7:45:58 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: JustaDumbBlonde
Marking for later
38 posted on 03/12/2010 7:47:02 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies. Plan it.)
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To: Between the Lines

Ironically, there is an historical link between the culture and lingo of urban blacks and the culture and lingo of deep south rednecks. The paths have diverged since the migration post WWII, but the linkage is there.

For example: if you want to see men drinking beer sitting on a cloth upholstered sofa on the front porch in the city, where do you go? If you want to see men drinking beer sitting on a cloth upholstered sofa on the front porch in the Southern Piedmont, where do you go?


39 posted on 03/12/2010 7:51:32 AM PST by jay1949 (Work is the curse of the blogging class)
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To: jay1949

hm? The porch?


40 posted on 03/12/2010 8:00:20 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid!)
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To: jay1949

Did you know that “porch” is a word derived from African slaves? At least, this is what I’ve been told...


41 posted on 03/12/2010 8:15:22 AM PST by Boonie
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To: All
Hmmm...Shows how littlw I know...Just looked up "porch"... Derived from:Catalanian language (proxo)----Catalan (Catalan: català, pronounced [kətəˈla] or [kataˈla]) is a Romance language, the national and official language of Andorra, and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencià (Valencian), as well as in the city of Alghero on the Italian island of Sardinia. It is also spoken in the autonomous communities of Aragon (in La Franja) and Murcia (in Carche) in Spain, and, officially recognised to some extent, in the historic Roussillon region of southern France, roughly equivalent to the current département of the Pyrénées-Orientales (Northern Catalonia).
42 posted on 03/12/2010 8:20:54 AM PST by Boonie
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To: All

This book is worth reading — even if it did come from PBS...:^)

http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_9780142002315,00.html

It nicely describes the “flow” of English and it’s regional variations around the world.


43 posted on 03/12/2010 8:22:42 AM PST by az_gila (AZ - one Governor down... we don't want her back...)
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To: jay1949

Your blog is very nicely done. I’ve been researching my “lines” off and on over the past ten years and have found a great number of cousins living in Giles and Augusta counties. Been up there a few times and if I could afford it myself, would probably move there. Beautiful place.


44 posted on 03/12/2010 8:24:25 AM PST by VeniVidiVici (Democrats and Pelosi. The party of thieves, liars and tax cheats)
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To: jay1949

amen...being a cotton state raised lad from Dixie now living in middle Tennessee and who works with folks from up the Cumberland plateau and so forth daily....I already knew this.

hillbilly and southern drawls as very different

true southern drawl runs from east Texas up to Dallas and across Louisiana and southern Arkansas into only west-middle Tennessee and western Kentucky and then all of Mississippi and Alabama south of Huntsville into southern Gerorgia and parts of Atlanta even and most of South Carolina , middle and eastern North Carolina, to tidewater Virginia and a hint even into Maryland coastal...and a spine down through Florida panhandle over to Jacksonville and meanders down through Florida in places all the way to Clewiston to Everglades City

Appalachin accents though varied between say Blue Ridge Georgia to Wheeling West Virginia run primarily in all the hill/mountain country from the southeast up deep into the North


45 posted on 03/12/2010 8:30:45 AM PST by wardaddy (women are crazy)
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To: Boonie
"I don’t understand what you mean by “unintegrated”???"

I think it meant racial and Blacks specifically because it mentioned the lack of farms and the need for Blacks slaves to man them.

46 posted on 03/12/2010 8:40:14 AM PST by blam
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To: wintertime

you built it on the rock, right?


47 posted on 03/12/2010 9:16:51 AM PST by stefanbatory (Weed out the RINOs! Sign the pledge. conservativepledge.org)
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To: jay1949

“Manteo-Elizabeth City, NC”

The residents of Harkers Island, east of Morehead City and Atlantic Beach NC, has a very distinct “hoy toid” (high tide) cockneyed dialect.

A shrimp boat captain from Harkers Island and his then fiancee, a nurse, introduced me to my wife twenty-six years ago in Atlantic Beach. We have fond memories of Cherry Point, Morehead City, Beaufort and Atlantic Beach and the good folks “Down East.”


48 posted on 03/12/2010 10:04:18 AM PST by Joe Marine 76 (Semper Fi!)
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To: blam

Ok...I see...thanks, blam...


49 posted on 03/12/2010 10:05:44 AM PST by Boonie
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To: Joe Marine 76

The horses on Carrot Island and Horse Island at Beaufort are a sight to see....Beaufort is my favorite place on the NC coast...


50 posted on 03/12/2010 10:09:30 AM PST by Boonie
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