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Encyclopedia > Appalachian English

Appalachian English is a common name for the Southern Midland dialect of American English. This dialect is spoken in Northeastern Georgia , Northwestern South Carolina, Southern West Virginia, Southwestern Virginia, Southern Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, the Upper Potomac and Shenandoah Valleys of Virginia and West Virginia, Western Maryland, East Tennessee, and Western North Carolina as well as northeastern Alabama. It is a dialect distinct from Southern American English, and it has more in common with the Northern Midland dialect of Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia than the non-rhotic Southern dialect. While most of this area lies within Appalachia as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission, Appalachian English is not the dialect of the entire region the Commission defines as Appalachia. Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... A dialect (from the Greek word διάλεκτος, dialektos) is a variety of a language characteristic of a particular group of the languages speakers. ... For other uses, see American English (disambiguation). ... Official language(s) English Capital Charleston(1670-1789) Columbia(1790-present) Largest city Columbia Largest metro area Columbia Area  Ranked 40th  - Total 34,726 sq mi (82,965 km²)  - Width 200 miles (320 km)  - Length 260 miles (420 km)  - % water 6  - Latitude 32° 2′ N to 35° 13′ N  - Longitude... Southern West Virginia is a culturally and geographically distinct region in the U.S. state of West Virginia. ... Official language(s) English Capital Charleston Largest city Charleston Area  Ranked 41st  - Total 24,244 sq mi (62,809 km²)  - Width 130 miles (210 km)  - Length 240 miles (385 km)  - % water 0. ... Southwest Virginia at its greatest geographical definition Southwest Virginia is a mountainous region of Virginia in the westernmost part of the commonwealth. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... Official language(s) English de facto Capital Columbus Largest city Columbus Largest metro area Greater Cleveland Area  Ranked 34th  - Total 44,825 sq mi (116,096 km²)  - Width 220 miles (355 km)  - Length 220 miles (355 km)  - % water 8. ... Official language(s) English[1] Capital Frankfort Largest city Louisville Area  Ranked 37th  - Total 40,444 sq mi (104,749 km²)  - Width 140 miles (225 km)  - Length 379 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ... The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States (USA). ... Shenandoah River Watershed Canoeing on the Shenandoah River, near Winchester, Virginia This article is about the river in Virginia in the United States. ... Official language(s) None (English, de facto) Capital Annapolis Largest city Baltimore Area  Ranked 42nd  - Total 12,407 sq mi (32,133 km²)  - Width 101 miles (145 km)  - Length 249 miles (400 km)  - % water 21  - Latitude 37° 53′ N to 39° 43′ N  - Longitude 75° 03′ W to 79° 29... East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the state of Tennessee. ... Official language(s) English Capital Nashville Largest city Memphis Largest metro area Nashville Metropolitan Area Area  Ranked 36th  - Total 42,169 sq mi (109,247 km²)  - Width 120 miles (195 km)  - Length 440 miles (710 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Raleigh Largest city Charlotte Largest metro area Charlotte metro area Area  Ranked 28th  - Total 53,865 sq mi (139,509 km²)  - Width 150 miles (240 km)  - Length 560[1] miles (901 km)  - % water 9. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... Southern American English as defined by the monophthongization of to before obstruents (Labov, Ash, and Boberg 2006:126). ... Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Charleston Largest city Charleston Area  Ranked 41st  - Total 24,244 sq mi (62,809 km²)  - Width 130 miles (210 km)  - Length 240 miles (385 km)  - % water 0. ... English pronunciation is divided into two main accent groups, the rhotic and the non-rhotic, depending on when the letter r (equivalent to Greek rho) is pronounced. ... It has been suggested that Poverty in Appalachia be merged into this article or section. ... Areas included within the Appalachian Regional Commissions charter The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a United States federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life. ...


The dialect is rhotic 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 pronunciation is divided into two main accent groups, the rhotic and non-rhotic, depending on when the phoneme (the letter r) is pronounced. ... Phonology (Greek phonē = voice/sound and logos = word/speech), is a subfield of linguistics which studies the sound system of a specific language (or languages). ... For other uses, see Morphology. ... For other uses, see Syntax (disambiguation). ...


English speakers who settled the area came mostly from West Anglia, the Scottish Lowlands, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland via Northern Ireland in the middle 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.


Many speakers assert that those who came to Appalachia from the Scottish Borders by way of Northern Ireland, the Scots-Irish or Ulster Scots, had the greatest role in shaping modern Appalachian English, and this is supported by a large number of extant vocabulary used in the least urbanized, and therefore more linguistically conservative, areas of the Appalachians.[1] Scots-Irish (also called Ulster Scots) is a Scottish ethnic group that historically resided in Ireland which ultimately traces its roots back to settlers from Scotland, and to a lesser extent, England. ... Ulster-Scots are an Irish ethnic group descended from mainly Lowland Scots who settled in the Province of Ulster in Ireland, first beginning in large numbers during the 17th century. ...


Speakers of Appalachian English have no trouble understanding standard English, but even native speakers of other dialects can find it somewhat impenetrable (compare the similar situation of Glaswegian and London English), and foreigners may have some trouble understanding it, while others may find it easier to comprehend. Standard forms are taught in schools, unfortunately with the erroneously implicit assumption that the Appalachian dialect is somehow inferior to Standard American English.


The characteristic syntax and morphology of Appalachian English gives way to more standard forms in schools, public speaking venues, and courts of law, but the phonology is likely to remain the same.

Contents

Phonology

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.


The vowel sound represented by the letter "i" is pronounced as [ɑː] rather than the standard [ɑj].


Wash is pronounced [wɔɹʃ]. The standard American English pronunciation is [wɔʃ] or [wɑʃ]).


Creek is pronounced [kɹɪk] (cf. standard English [kɹik]).


Hollow is pronounced [hɑlɹ̩] (cf. standard English [hɑloʊ]).


Hills is pronounced [hilz] (cf. standard English [hɪlz]). This trait is shared by many other words ending in -ill.


In is pronounced [iən] (standard English: [ɪn]).


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.


Participles and gerunds such as "doing" and "mining" end in [n] instead of [iŋ].


Word final "a" is frequently pronounced [ij], as in "Santa Claus."


Intervocalic "s" as in "greasy" is pronounced [z].


People who live in the Appalachian dialect area pronounce the word "Appalachia" ['æpə'lætʃə] or ['æpə'lætʃiə] - App-a-latch-ah, while those who live outside of the Appalachian dialect area or at its outer edges tend to pronounce it [æpə'leɪʃə] App-a-lay-csh-ah.


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


Grammar

Conjugation of the verb "to be"

The conjugation of the verb "to be" is different from that of standard English in several ways, and there is sometimes more than one form of the verb "to be" acceptable in Appalachian English. The use of the word ain't is one of the most salient features of this dialect. Ain't originated as a contraction of "am not." Today, however, it is used as the negative form of the verb "to be" in the present tense (cf. Scottish Gaelic chan eil) and is used instead of a conjugated form of the verb "to have" plus "not" to express the present perfect tense. An example of the latter would be "He ain't done it" instead of "He hasn't done it." Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) is a member of the Goidelic branch of Celtic languages. ...


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.


"Is you?" is sometimes used instead of "Are you?"


Singular forms of the verb "to be" are often used with pronouns, as in "Them is the ones I want" and "Him and her is real good folks."


Pluralized concrete nouns used as abstract nouns call for a singular form of the verb, i.e. "Apples is good for you."


"Was" is often used in the third person plural, i.e. "They was there."


Other verb forms

Sometimes the past participle of a strong verb such as "do" is used in place of the past tense. For example, "I done it already" instead of "I did it already" or in the case of the verb "see," "I seen" instead of "I saw."


"Went" is often used instead of "gone" as the past participle of the verb "to go." She had went to Ashland. Less frequently, "gone" is used as the simple past tense. I gone down to the meeting, but wasn't nobody there.


"Done" is used with the past tense (or a past participle commonly used as a past tense, such as "gone") to express action just completed, as in, "I done went/gone to the store".


Some English strong verbs are occasionally conjugated as weak verbs in Appalachian English, i.e. "knowed," and "seed." Most speakers of Appalachian English do not use these forms, however, as they indicate the lowest level of social prestige.


The construction "don't...no" is used with transitive verbs to indicate the negative, i.e. "He don't know no better." This is commonly referred to as the double negative, and is either negative or emphatically negative, never positive. "None" is often used in place of "any," as in "I don't have none."


Verb forms for the verb "to lay" are used instead of forms of the verb "to lie." For example, "Lay down and hush."


Often, got is used in place of have. "If they ain't got it, you don't need it."


Participles found in present tense progressive aspect verb forms often have a vowel prefix commonly written with an "a" followed by a hyphen, and this is pronounced as a schwa sound. An example is "I'm a-goin' now." Cf. the composite present of Scottish Gaelic, as in Tha mi a-smochach, or "I'm smoking."


"Might could" is sometimes used where a speaker of standard English would say, "could maybe.". Cf. Scots and Ulster Scots "micht could". Scots refers to the Anglic varieties spoken in parts of Scotland. ... Ulster-Scots are an Irish ethnic group descended from mainly Lowland Scots who settled in the Province of Ulster in Ireland, first beginning in large numbers during the 17th century. ...


"Feet" - when speaking about measurement - is often replaced by the singular, "foot". For example" "That stick is 3 foot", or "We need 6 foot of drywall".


The future perfect is all but nonexistent.


Pronouns and demonstratives

"Them" is sometimes used in place of "those" as a demonstrative in both nominative and oblique constructions. Examples are "Them are the pants I want" and "Give me some of them crackers."


Oblique forms of the personal pronouns are used as nominative when more than one is used (cf. French moi et toi). For example, "Me and him are real good buddies" is said instead of "He and I are really good friends."


Accusative case personal pronouns are used as reflexives in situations that, in American English, do not typically demand them (e.g., "I'm gonna get me a haircut"). The -self/-selves forms are used almost exclusively as emphatics, and then often in non-standard forms (e.g., "the preacher hisself").


Second person pronouns are often retained as subjects in imperative sentences (e.g., "You go an' get you a cookie").


Sample vocabulary

  • Directly: later, after a while, when it becomes convenient, soon, immediately (largely depending on context). Meetin'll [church service] be lettin' out directly (Sometimes dreckly)[2]
  • Buggy: shopping cart. Get me that buggy, and make sure it don't have no broken wheel.
  • Poke: Brown paper bag [3]
  • Chaw: chewing tobacco. Chaw comes three ways: in a poke, a twist, or a plug.
  • Chair: pronounced "cheer"
  • Plug: a quid of tobacco. That boy done slobbered all on my plug.
  • Blinds: window shades. Open them blinds and let some sunshine in!
  • Skillet: a frying pan. They's patty sausage in the skillet.
  • Coke (Coh-cola): Applied to all flavored, carbonated sodas, regardless of brand or type. I'm goin' to get a coke.
    • Pop: Used in some places instead of the term Coke.
  • Slap
    • (adj.) full, complete. I swan, it's been rainin' a slap week."
    • (adv.) directly (often with dab). He put a fence smack dab down the middle of the pasture.
  • Soda: bicarbonate of soda. I mixed me some soda for my indigestion.
  • Swan: swear, declare to be true. I swan that I'll wean that dog from suckin' eggs.[4]
  • Reckon: think, guess, suppose. I reckon you don't like soup beans.
  • Polecat: a skunk. Don't bother that there polecat or he'll spray you.
  • Touched: (pronounced [tɛtʃt]) crazy. That boy's touched. Don't pay him no mind.
  • Plum or plumb: an intensifier for verbs. Son, you're plum crazy.; a directional adverb meaning "all the way." That dog run plum under the house.
  • Hussy: (pronounced with a [z]) a mean or spiteful woman; a promiscuous woman.
  • Pokestock: a single shot shotgun. I'll sell you an old pokestock for forty bucks.
  • Kyarn: Roadkill "That smells like kyarn."
  • Cornpone: A batch of cornbread
  • Fit: Used in place of the word "Fought"
  • 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.
  • Mess: The amount of a particular food that is needed to be cooked in order to serve everyone present. Mary, go fetch me a mess of them green beans.
  • Fixin: A serving or helping of food or preparing to do something. Can I get a fixin of dumplings?, I'm fixin to do somethin'.
  • Clean: Similar to 'plum' [above], verb modifier that is used to mean entirely completing an action. Can be used in place of 'all the way.' He knocked it clean off'n the table - He knocked it all the way off'n the table.
  • Trade: To shop. I'm fixin' to go down to the Piggly Wiggly to trade.

This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Sources

O'Grady, William, Dobrovolsky, Michael, and Aronoff, Mark. Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction. Second Edition. New York: St. Martin's press, 1993.


D.A.R.E., The Dictionary of American Regional English


Notes

  1. ^ Historian David Hackett Fischer lists vocabulary shared by Scots and Appalachian speech in the "From the Borders to the Backcountry" section of the book Albion's Seed.
  2. ^ University of South Carolina, College of Arts and Science. Dictionary: Southern Appalachian English.
  3. ^ http://cfprod01.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_109.html Harvard Dialect Survey - word use: paper container from store
  4. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth edition (2000).

  Results from FactBites:
 
Appalachian English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1322 words)
Appalachian English is a common name for the Southern Midland dialect of American English.
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.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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