"fur" - a long distance

"far" - hot, will burn you (How fur was the far?)

"chillin" - young human beings

"yung-uns" - "chillin"

"chu" - the person to whom I am speaking (What chu doin'?)

"purty" - not ugly

"tater" - grows underground, has "eyes"

"nekid" - not wearing clothes

"tar" - one of 4 round things on a pick-em-up truck that make it go down the road

"tard" - sleepy

most importantly: prounouncing the word "Appalachian" - it is "app" - "uh" - "latch" - "in" (not "App - uh - lay - shin)

These are all good fun, but there are some really interesting things about the (now-vanishing) Appalachian dialect. Until the 1960s, when the Interstate highway system really made travel in and out of the mountains easy, the Appalachian dialect had been fairly well preserved since the 1700s. Linguists noted that there were words and forms of speech found there that were very closely related to Elizabethan English forms, and that still existed nowhere else in the world.

Even within the Appalachians, there were sub-dialects. I grew up in Western North Carolina, and rather than y'all, the common term was "you-un's". Rather than "chillun", the common term was "young-uns". The very flat vowels (i.e., "tar" for "tire") was common.

To me, the most distinctive feature of the Appalachian dialect is the odd words and colorful phrases, such as

  • crooked as a dog's hind leg
  • cuter than two speckled puppies
  • haven't (seen you) in a coon's age (referring to a raccoon, not as a racial slur)
  • couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel
  • "dope", for a soda. My grandfather always used this one, or sometimes "sody-dope". In the South in general, "Coke" is often used as a generic for "soda".
  • "fur piece" - a long way
  • "over the road" - used similarly to "up the road", or "down the road", but only used (AFAIK) in Appalachia.

Unfortunately, between the Interstates and cable TV, the Appalachian dialect is disappearing. When I listen to my young nieces and nephews who still live in North Carolina and think about how my grandparents spoke, it really makes me rather sad -- another bit of regional American uniqueness tossed into the blender.

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