Appalachian (Appa-lach-ian) English

The Appalachian Mountain Region. Home of Appalachian English.

In the eastern United States is a version of English native only to the Appalachian mountain region. Stretching from Alabama to Canada, this language is spoken in parts of Georgia, North & South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Their language is rather unique and has been described as sounding like singing. With a rich vocabulary using words such as “tote” in place of “carry” and “poke” as opposed to “bag”. Some have even referred to this dialect of English as “hillbilly talk” because of the nature of it’s song-like characteristics.

So, where did this dialect originate? The answer is rather surprising, although given the nation the Appalachians find themselves in is quite the melting pot, it really shouldn’t. Also, the fact that the Appalachians (Appa-lach-ians as they call themselves) have a tendency to make up their own words makes it even harder to recognize. However, in truth, the dialect originates from the Scots-Irish that inhabited that area centuries before as they brought their version of English over from Europe. Their descendants are now the Appalachians living in towns such as Graham County continuing to advance and evolve the Appalachians’ English.

It’s really interesting to see what words they have invented. Words such as “si’gogglin'”meaning “not straight/bent”. My favourite has got to be “gaum” meaning “cluttered”. Sometimes where I work, I feel like it’s too “gaum”. I love that word. Other words and their definitions include:

  • “fler” meaning flour
  • “airish” meaning chilly
  • “dope” meaning soda-pop
  • “boomer” meaning a noisy creature–squirrel/wharf-rat
  • “scald” meaning that farming land is infertile (dead land)

Appalachian English is one of the oldest varieties of English. The preservation of this ancient dialect is due to its isolation in the Appalachian mountains. It is the most ancient and protected dialects in America. This ancient English is actually believed to be a remnant of Elizabethan English. Phrases such as “afeared” and “might could/might be able to” are remnants of 17th & 18th century English. This further adds credibility to these claims. Appalachian English is said to be one of the purest spoken forms of English.

One of the most ancient dialects of the English language, Appalachian English is an accent that is hard to lose. Just like the accent, the people who leave the Appalachian region soon find themselves coming back looking for that feeling of home that the only Appalachians can provide.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a link for an Appalachian dictionary. Although I doubt it would’ve been much help, especially with them making changes to the language all the time. Still, I was looking forward to finding one for myself. For now there are dozens of videos on Appalachians and their hometowns. Check them out if you want more of this wonderful dialect.

God bless you all, my precious avidReaders. 🧐

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