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Proper English March 4, 2007

Posted by amberpeace in Uncategorized.

Also known as Appalachian English.

The dialect is rhotic (pronounce written “r” in all position) and characterized by distinct phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon. It is mostly oral but can also be found in writing. Detractors of the dialect both within and outside of the speaking area cite laziness or indifference in learning standard forms as the reasons for its existence. However, the areas where Appalachian English is spoken were settled in the 18th century, and many of the characteristics of the dialect predate the standardization of American English and continue to be passed on orally. English speakers who settled the area came mostly from West Anglia, the Scottish Lowlands, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland via Northern Ireland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and their speech forms the basis of the dialect. Along with German immigrants, these groups populated an area which is still largely homogeneous culturally.

Speakers of Appalachian English have little or no trouble understanding standard English, but even native speakers of other dialects can find it somewhat unintelligible, and foreigners can have significant trouble understanding it.

Vowels are pronounced for a slightly longer period of time than those in standard forms of English, and diphthongs can clearly be heard to have two distinct vowels, creating the characteristic “drawl” of Appalachian English.
wash is pronounced worsh
creek is pronounced crik
hollow is pronounced hollar
hills is pronounced hilz, as are other “ill” ending words
in is pronounced ein
words ending in “ing” end with “in”
The pin/pen merger is complete in Appalachia, and a pen used for writing is distinguished via the term “ink pen.” Neither word is pronounced as in standard English; instead, they both rhyme with “in” with the modified pronunciation indicated above.
People who live in the Appalachian dialect area pronounce the word “Appalachia” App-a-latch-ah, while those who live outside of the Appalachian dialect area or at its outer edges tend to pronounce it App-a-lay-csh-ah.

Whereas standard English makes no distinction aside from context between the singular and plural forms of the second person past tense forms of the verb “to be,” using “you were” for both, Appalachian English has “you was” and “y’all were,” making for a more balanced paradigm with “was” used for the singular past tense in all cases, and “were” used for the plural.
Often, got is used in place of have. “If they ain’t got it, you don’t need it.”

The future perfect is all but nonexistent.

Buggy: shopping cart.
Blinds: window shades.
Skillet: a frying pan.
Coke (Coh-cola): Applied to all flavored, carbonated sodas, regardless of brand or type.
Pop: Used in place of Cola, Soda, or Coke- a Carbonated beverage of any brand. Use of pop versus cola depends on area.
Reckon: think, guess, suppose. I reckon you don’t like soup beans. This is an actual English word that is used only in Appalachia, Britain and Australia.
Cornpone: A batch of cornbread
Yonder: a directional adverb further away than “here” or “there,” preceded by the preposition “over.” He’s over yonder. It can also be used as an adjective after a noun phrase containing a demonstrative. Get me that rake yonder
Fixin: A serving or helping of food or preparing to do something.

Research suggests that this dialect is one of the most maintained and well-concentrated dialects within the whole United States.

Truth be told, when I’m not in the south, talking to my family, or plum tired, my accent isn’t that intese. However, if you catch me talking to my mother or my cousin on the phone, there is a chance you won’t know what I’m saying.

True story: my mother was talking to me over Skype, and therefore she could be heard over speakers. My friend Edwyn almost spazzed when he heard her talk. Until that point, he thought that type of accent was just a made up one for TV.



1. Mom - March 12, 2007

First off – my accent is not so bad as to make anyone “spaz”, shock maybe. Second you forgot to explain how directions are given…a bit – short distance…a piece – a little bit further than a bit and then there is “a fur piece” which means fairly far away. And intersting enough, I have a truer accent when talking to my eldest daughter than anyone else in my family. I love you.

2. Amber Lee - March 12, 2007

Lol, nope Eddy definitely spazzed. 🙂

Yeah, my accent is ridiculous when I’m talking to you guys. Detroit will do me some good!

3. spymum - April 5, 2007

We use ‘yonder’! It’s a great word. And pone (as in cassava pone).

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