Skip to comments.Scotch-Irish Appalachian Vocabulary Quiz
Posted on 03/29/2010 5:52:06 AM PDT by jay1949
Here's the challenge: certain words and phrases characteristic of Appalachian English in Eastern Tennessee and elsewhere can be traced back to Scottish English imported to this country by Scotch-Irish settlers. Some of these are disappearing; others have spread throughout the South; a few seem to be making it into widespread usage. How many do you know? 1. piece; 2. beal, bealing; 3. mend; 4. airish; 5. chancy; 6. muley; 7. bottom; 8. discomfit; 9. singlings; 10. fireboard . . . .
(Excerpt) Read more at backcountrynotes.com ...
jay, it’s Scot/Irish
And I always thought it was Scots/Irish.
Where I live (western Virginia) the prevailing term has always been Scotch Irish, with or without a hyphen; the same for the states of WV, KY, TN, and NC — the states south of the Potomac. North of the Potomac, the prevailing terms are Ulster Scots and Scots-Irish. Everyone thinks the term they use is the right one, so I get corrected no matter what :>( . . . I simply use the term that is traditional here.
Occassionaly the Irish will take a scotch as will the Scots from time to time.
I knew six words. Mom came from Arkansas mountains to Texas with many relatives. Maybe that is where I learned them. We use to say “fixin” as in “I’m fixin’ to shuffle the cards or clean the floor” and “idie” (idea) as in “I have an idie where I left my keys”.
I go to this link and on the side, on listed blogs, I find my best friend’s blog listed! She lives in VA, but that’s so strange and funny.
That’s weird. I live in soutern North Carolina and always read and hear Scots-Irish. Oh well, it shows to go you.
I solidly knew 6 and was able to guess at 8 but “bealing” and “fireboard” had me stumped.
Guess I’m from too far east (Amherst County, VA, at the foot of the Blue Ridge) since I only knew four.
You can still hear a bit of the old Scotch/Irish in the accents of folks in parts of the foothills and mountains. When my wife-to-be met my mom (born and bred native of Lynchburg, VA) for the first time, as we left, she turned to me and said, “You never told me your mom came over from Scotland when she was little.” I blinked and said, “no, she’s lived within 20 miles of here her entire life!” I guess it’s the way she sounded “ou” words like “house” (almost comes out “hoowse”) that caught my Georgia-bred wife’s attention. Oddly enough, I didn’t pick that accent up at all, despite both parents having it.
I got five as well. Never heard of bealings.
Really appreciate your postings.
Additionally, many ofmy relatives use ‘of’ in a different way, such as ‘feel of that’ or ‘taste of that’.
What’s the regional use of frying pan vs. skillet?
The Ozark Mountains dialect and the Appalachian dialect are very closely related — many Ozarks settlers came from Southern Appalachia.
I know there's a strong strain of Scot in my father's family, since we were able to trace them from Scotland to France to Georgia (USA) to North Caroline. Likewise, there's a strong strain of Irish in my mother's family.
And, yes, I feel a strong desire to stand up and dance when I hear a Celtic jig. However, I believe bagpipes are best appreciated from a distance...about 3,500 miles worth.
small world, isn’t it?
There’s an essay by Prof. Montgomery here: http://www.ulsterscotslanguage.com/en/texts/scotch-irish/scotch-irish-or-scots-irish/
He must know what he’s talking about — the essay runs 2-1/2 pages and the footnotes are almost 3-1/2 pages ;>)
“If all else fails, I will retreat up the valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scots-Irish of that region, and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger.”
George Washington, at Valley Forge.
fry·ing pan -- n. A shallow, long-handled pan used for frying food. Also called skillet; also called regionally fry pan, spider. The terms frying pan and skillet are now virtually interchangeable, but there was a time when they were so regional as to be distinct dialect markers. Frying pan and the shortened version fry pan were once New England terms; frying pan is now in general use, as is the less common fry pan, now heard in the Atlantic states, the South, and the West, as well as New England. Skillet seems to have been confined to the Midland section of the country, including the Upper South. Its use is still concentrated there, but it is no longer used in that area alone, probably because of the national marketing of skillet dinner mixes. The term spider, originally denoting a type of frying pan that had long legs to hold it up over the coals, spread from New England westward to the Upper Northern states and down the coast to the South Atlantic states. It is still well known in both these regions, although it is now considered old-fashioned. See Note at andiron.
skil·let -- n. 1. See frying pan. See Regional Notes at andiron, frying pan. 2. Chiefly British A long-handled stewing pan or saucepan sometimes having legs.
I only knew 5 for sure too. Piece, mend, chancy, bottom, discomfit. I don’t know how I knew them because I grew up in CA.
A Great Book:
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America
by James Webb
the Scots-Irish were 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army; they included the pioneers Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston; and they have given America numerous great military leaders, including Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Audie Murphy, and George S. Patton, as well as most of the soldiers of the Confederacy (only 5 percent of whom owned slaves, and who fought against what they viewed as an invading army).
It illustrates how the Scots-Irish redefined American politics, creating the populist movement and giving the country a dozen presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. And it explores how the Scots-Irish culture of isolation, hard luck, stubbornness, and mistrust of the nation’s elite formed and still dominates blue-collar America, the military services, the Bible Belt, and country music.
Thanks Jay, you’re a crackerjack.
crackerjack= a marvel. :^)
“They were among the bravest and most effective militia, when called into the field. Gen. Washington signified his opinion of their when, in the darkest day of the revolutionary struggle, he expressed his confidence. that if all other resources should fail, he might yet repair with a single standard to West Augusta, and there rally a band of patriots who would meet with the enemy at the Blue Ridge, and there establish the boundary of a free empire in the west. This saying of the father of his country has been variously reported; but we have no reason to doubt that he did, in some form, declare his belief that, in the last resort, he could yet gather force in western Virginia which the victorious armies of Britain could not subdue.”
Henry Ruffner, President of Washington College, in “Early History of Washington College,” excerpt printed in Henry Howe, “Historical Collections of Virginia” (Wm. R. Babcock 1852)(”The first settlements in this portion of the valley were made by the Scotch Irish, with a few original Scotch among them . . . .”)
BUMP for later!
Don’t forget ‘revenooers’.
The over-Mountain men made up of mostly scots-Irish annihilated Ferguson’s troops at Kings Mountain and solidified resistance against the British throughout the South. This was repeated a few months later at Cowpens. I am proud to have people in my family tree who participated in both battles.
Did you ever wonder how Lynchburg got it’s name? btw, I was raised in Augusta County.
Were it not for the largely Scotch-Irish militiamen from the mountains, we’d have remained British subjects —
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America
Former navy secretary Webb (Fields of Fire; etc.) wants not only to offer a history of the Scots-Irish but to redeem them from their redneck, hillbilly stereotype and place them at the center of American history and culture. As Webb relates, the Scots-Irish first emigrated to the U.S., 200,000 to 400,000 strong, in four waves during the 18th century, settling primarily in Appalachia before spreading west and south. Webb’s thesis is that the Scots-Irish, with their rugged individualism, warrior culture built on extended familial groups (the “kind of people who would die in place rather than retreat”) and an instinctive mistrust of authority, created an American culture that mirrors these traits.
Great link, thanks.
Author James Webb: my grandmother’s maiden name was Webb.
Considering all the Scotch Irish freedom fighters that came to Texas, it stands to reason that many of thier terms became Texas jargon too.
My dad always used a term “black Irish”, “black Dutch” to describe someone’s ancestry. I do know he was not talking about African ancestry. I think he was referring to the Spanish gene pool giving them dark hair and eyes. Does anyone else know for certain or have you ever heard the term?
Yes, I have heard it many times.
I've also heard the theory held by some that the so-called "black Irish" and the "black Dutch" may well have had Spanish/Portuguese mixed with American Indian ancestry.
I was about to buy the book and then I read reviews to realize that this is the Senator Jim Webb, Democrat, and I stopped. Tell me if it is worth buying or if there is another book with similar theme that I should buy instead.
6. muley; Obama?
My Dad's side used that term “Black/Irish” to describe us before through family research I was able to make the Scots/Irish connection. My Dad had coal black hair, green eyes and a Mediterranean brownness to his complexion. All of us 5 kids have that same skin tone and dark brown hair. We tanned very well in the summer. What was the true origin of the Black/Irish, is anyones guess, and you will get many different theories if you do a web search on it.
Do check it out. I know it was written by Webb, who for the life of me I don't understand why he went Democrat, escpeccialy after doing the research for this book, but it is a good book just the same. Should be on any conservative readers club list.
Loved it. But a much more scholarly book is Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fisher.
He goes into depth about the origen of the Scots/Irish immigration into the U.S. in the 1700s and the three migrations west via different geographical treks.
No son of Scotland or N. Ireland should be without it. Kind of pricey though Amazon has some used.
Anybody know what an eaves trough is?
I’m pretty sure they migrated west and had a big hand in the establishment of Texas
The list of troops has lots of Scots-Irish warriors
Lynchburg was named for John Lynch, who set up a ferry across the James River in 1757. The actual town was founded in, I think, 1786. John Lynch was apparently the brother of Charles Lynch, a Virginia judge and politician, who coined the term “lynch law.”
I didn’t but now I do. http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861689613/eaves_trough.html
eaves trough (plural eaves troughs)
U.S. regional — gutter: a gutter on a building
The Northern terms eaves trough and eaves spout extend from New England through the Midwest. In the earlier part of the 20th century, the eaves trough form was general currency in New England and New York State, from Albany westward. At that time, eaves spout prevailed in the Western Reserve of Ohio. Indeed, that term was recorded for “rain gutter” as early as 1846 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Both terms have currency across the Western states to the Pacific coast, from Washington to California, where they survive as less common alternatives. Today they have been challenged or overtaken by the general currency terms rain gutter or gutter and downspout. In the Southern states, with the exception of the occasional occurrence of trough, the terms have been generally replaced by gutter.
Both are excellent books, and Albion’s Seed is more scholarly and overall better written. Fischer has a good treatment of the “Borderers,” the folk who lived on the Scottish=English border, above Hadrian’s Wall (the ancient border). Those below the border and above Hadrian’s Wall were counted as “English” and often had English spellings of their surnames but they were ethnically very closely related to the Scots on the other side of the border. All of the Borderers had a relationship to an ancient tribe called the Picts. There are genetic markers for Picts — a very high proportion of individuals with blue eyes and dark brown hair, and a dislike for the taste of finfish (the latter characteristic had been noted by a Roman official who visited the area centuries ago). My wife’s paternal family calls itself English but they are Borderers with Pict blood — my wife has the blue eyes, the dark brown hair, and the distaste for finfish.
My understanding is that what is presently Scotland was inhabited by the Picts. At some point a Irish tribe/clan crossed over to western England and moved north and integrated with the Picts thru both peaceful and non-peaceful means and became the dominate group. This tribe/clan was the Scoti hence Scotland.
The Picts inhabited the southern lowlands, the Celts the northern areas, along with Danes, Vikings, Jutes, Frisians, and who knows who else — the Scotti came over from Ireland and came to dominate the whole area north of Hadrian’s Wall; Scotti, from which came Scottish, was eventually shortened to Scot. A mixed bag. My own Scottish lineage includes, supposedly, a touch of Viking blood, from Clan Gunn. Could be legend, however, to makes us seem more menacing than we really are.
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