Appalachia Overheard



“Did you hit me?”

“Yes I was a fussing with my youngin and wasn’t watching. I’m sorry.”

“Well it don’t look like it hurt nothing. I don’t see no damage.”

“I thank ye.”


Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia

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  • Reply
    Yecedrah higman
    February 4, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    I say to my husband regularly “I love ye, darlin” I never really thought much about it until now but we both say it.

  • Reply
    Michael Montgomery
    February 4, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Yes, the KJV uses YE frequently, but only in the plural (with THOU and THEE as singular), but that usage comes from England. While published in 1611, the KJV represent the language of England as of about 1500. Appalachian YE is the pronunciation of YOU in both singular and plural and represents the speech of Scotland and Ulster with the Scotch-Irish. As part of my research in Belfast, I found a 1737 letter written back to a minister in County Tyrone in which he implores YE AW to “come over” to America (he seems to have been around New York). Barbara, I agree with you that YE ALL slides easily into Y’ALL. I wrote an article about the same idea nearly 30 years ago and argued that YE AW, not YOU ALL, was the primary source of Y’ALL. Tipper will find more information in a book I recently sent her.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Almost like B. Ruth, I am likely to say “Thank yuh kindly” although, now that I think about it, the “yuh” is said so quickly some folks might think they’re hearing “ye”. I don’t recall my parents saying it but do remember hearing my beloved great-grandmother saying it.
    I have noticed that I’m hearing more mannerly speech from the teen’s I’m around these days – it is such a nice thing to hear!!

  • Reply
    Anne D
    February 3, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    Forgive errors below
    I meant “Thank ye- not ur and another.
    Typing on phone. Can’t go back and correct.
    Good nite all.

  • Reply
    Anne D
    February 3, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Oh my ! I’m so late tonight reading my most favorite place. You were hidden in one of the list of divisions my provider sorts my thmail- never-the-less (by the by, do y’all say That in the mountains?)
    Down here in MS rural areas, we use “Thank ur, sounds more like ‘ee’ Than ye in the situations like Papaw told. Usually one seems to know rightly “who” to respond in this manner. Rightly so, we are likely to dance around someone either paying for some deed we’ve done or for a bill, or some such.
    When we realize it would be Very impolite to refuse, we utter “Thank e kindly, I hope to be go kind to you one day.”
    Would that it happened more often to bless another!!
    Thank Ye, Tipper, for blessing us all again!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Maybe I was misinterpreting what I was hearing, but I always thought everybody was saying, “Thank ya.” Sometimes Appalachian is spoken slowly, but when they slide a bunch of words together it can be difficult to understand. Doncha know whatImean?

  • Reply
    February 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Well, thank ye kindly for yer stories and coments.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    “Ye” is used in the Bible alot, especially in the New Testament. In the “Sermon on the Mount” and other places, Jesus used “ye” to represent singular and mostly plural. …Ken

  • Reply
    February 3, 2018 at 10:55 am

    This goes back to the 1960’s and the “ye” I heard often was from my friend from Limerick, Ireland. She would say, for instance, “Would YE like to….?” with a hard enphasis on the “ye.” Do you think the use of ye in Appalachia came from Ireland?

  • Reply
    February 3, 2018 at 10:34 am

    I hear and say “I thank ye!” and “thank ye” all the time. When somebody does something for you but refuses to except remuneration it is the only appropriate response. After you insist on paying for a while you finally say “Well, I thank ye! And if there is anything I can do for you, you just let me know!” I have heard this scenario play out a million times.

    Not long ago I was stopped at a light in Longview when a little pickup hit me from behind. I pulled over to see if there was any busted lights or anything. The bumper was bent but it had been before so I couldn’t tell what was fresh damage and what was old. The old man that hit me had pulled over behind me so I when back to make sure he was OK. I was apprehensive about approaching him because it was a rough neighborhood and you never know who might pull a gun. When I saw an old man in his late 80’s trying to get out, I breathed a sigh of relief and helped him out. He seemed scared of me which well he should be being as I am 6′-1″ and over 200 lbs. But I am really just a big old pussycat and tried to ease his worries. I tried to explain to him that the truck already had damage and I wasn’t worried about it. “It is a truck, it is supposed to be damaged. If I was worried about it I would have bought a car.”
    The old man kept insisting that he wanted to pay for the damage so I finally relented. I told him I could do whatever labor was involved and let him pay for the parts. He agreed to that and put his name and address on a scrap of paper and gave it to me. I didn’t see any damage much on the front of his truck so I got him back in his truck and on his way then headed on toward home. On the way I rolled the window down just a crack to get a breath of fresh air and the wind just ripped that little piece of paper right out of my hand. A couple of months later Dusty totaled the truck.
    Just so you know, I’m not a marshmallow. Big old pussycats are really raging Mountain Lions trying to live a Christian life. Sometimes they can backslide though! Thank ye!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    February 3, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Thank, ye Tipper. I think we should start using it. I always thought it was one of those niceties that made you feel good to use.

    This goes to Ron’s point/question. I told my class that even if you see it as archaic, fossil, or just wrong the fact remains that when I was growing up as late as the 1970s, there were usage rules…there is a grammar to Appalachian English. It just isn’t “poor usage.”

    I like it. I’m with Tipper, let’s start using it, again. Part of defending Appalachia is the unapologetic use of our ways that have been forgotten or simply fallen out of use as we become more “standard.” Who wants that?

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 3, 2018 at 10:11 am

    For showing off my Appalachian mountain heritage…a lot of time I answer or say to someone…”Thank ye kindly!” For instance if it someone is opening a door for me, picking up something I’ve dropped, or reaching up for something I can’t reach from my rolling cart, etc. Their reaction is different from person to person… I’ll get a grin, then sometimes I get the response “What did you say? Then I get to explain…LOL
    Thank ye Tipper for this post today…Have a great weekend..
    PS…Did you get my “Chester Drawers”….just pondering…LOL

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 3, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Rats! Just lost my comment, trying again.

    I think you would be a very useful proofreader and editor for anybody trying to write ‘Appalachian’. You have an ear for it. I expect being a musician is part of it. It is real plain to me you have a gift I don’t. As proof I offer the number of times I have posted that I don’t know if I use a particular word or phrase or not.

    I expect the Appalachian use of “ye” was one of the reasons we were once said to speak Elizabethan English. I have a question though. Is “ye” always singular, that is ‘you’ or can it also be plural, that is ‘you all’? In the KJV it is, I believe, used both ways. And sometimes plural is written as ‘ye all’. (Somebody, I forget who, has said they thought Paul was a Southener. )

    • Reply
      February 3, 2018 at 11:02 am

      “Ye all” slides easily into “y’all,” doesn’t it?

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    February 3, 2018 at 9:09 am

    I was talking about “ye” in class yesterday. Does anyone still use it in conversation? I was taught that it was respectful and to be used with older folks, important people (veterans esp.) and as a sign of deep thanks.

    I haven’t heard it used hardly at all, lately. David Joy, an author from NC, uses it on his Twitter page. I used to use it with my son when he was little because he seemed like such a little old man. He uses, now, sometimes but only with me.

    I kinda like it.

    • Reply
      February 3, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Ed-the lady I heard use ye was younger than me. I’d guess she’s in her mid 30s. I still hear the word quite often in my area, although I don’t say it myself. Maybe I should start : )

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 3, 2018 at 8:23 am

    That’s a really good overheard conversation, and it sounds so real for here in the mountains!

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