Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 19

Martins Creek School Picture

Remember back in elementary school when you learned about verbs and their tenses?

Pap is the first boy in the second row starting from the left-and the brick building behind him is where I learned about present, past, and past participle tenses of verbs.

In 7th and 8th grade Mr. Crandall Moffitt was my teacher-he taught a classroom filled with 7th and 8th graders and was the Principal to boot. Mr. Moffitt was one of the best teachers I ever had.

Our English book was fairly small, but thick. It seems like it was black with a rainbow of colors on the front spelling out English or something similar.

But just because Mr. Moffitt was a great teacher and I made all As in his class doesn’t mean I speak correct grammar, you probably already figured out that one on your own.

My Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English  has 3 or 4 pages of common verbs used in the Smoky Mountain area and their tenses. I’ll share a few with you for today’s grammar lesson in the order of present, past, and past-participle

  • arrive    arriv, arrove     arrove
  • ask        ask, ax           ask, ax
  • bang      bung              bunged
  • bear       bore               bore

My thoughts:

  • arrive, arrived, arrived- is the common usage here
  • ask, ask, ask- is the common usage here
  • bang, banged, banged- is the common usage here-however I have heard bunged
  • bear, beared/bore, beared/bore- is the common usage here-I would say I hear beared and bore equally used as the past or past-participle of the verb

So how about where you live-what usage do you hear? And do you remember learning about verb tenses in school? I’m pretty positive Chatter and Chitter never learned about them. Over the years their various English teachers have focused on literature and for the most part, left out grammar.



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  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    November 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I, too, learned my verb tenses from Mr. Moffitt in the 4th and 5th grades. I had him again in the 8th but we were just reviewing everything by then. It was hard for me to believe this was not taught when my daughter was in school. Even when I home-schooled her this was not in any of the books we used. I can recall the verb tenses in my head anytime. I guess I was listening some in class. I was usually talking and received a lot of paddlings for that (from Mr. Moffitt). I will always love the old Martins Creek School. By the way, thanks for the picture post.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    November 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Tipper ,Looks like Pap was about 4 years ahead of me in a one room school house. They were uptown folks with a brick schoolhouse however. Among my other poor grammar is the use of come for came. Jim Casada hit the nail on the head for finding poor grammar, moreso perhaps than listening to each other , in my local newspaper. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    November 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I remember being taught and using this grammer.. I love that old picture of the school.. I have been wanting to see one for years. When I started there Mr. Pipes was Principal and then Mr.Smart.. Mr. Smart taught 8th grade.. Oh how I loved that old place. I’ve wrote several poems about it..Thanks for the post.

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    November 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Our school at Young Harris was very similar. Mr. Frank Erwun was principal,seventh and eighth-grade teacher, janitor, coach, and counselor. His specialty was English with the emphasis on diagramming. I still emjoy diagramming sentences,

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    November 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    A few weeks ago I heerd this particular political feller say, “No Ameerican deserves a free lunch!”
    Today I heerd this very same particular political feller is going to have lunch at the White House!
    My thougths are that this particular political feller shore “bunged” up his statement and will “bore” the brunt of it, as it comes around to bite him in the butt…..
    Everyone makes grammatical errors…The best way to avoid the obivious is to keep our mouths shut…but then that’s what makes us individuals and special!
    Thanks Tipper, Forgive the spellin’ and grammar!

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Incorrect usage of the tenses of bear is the only of your set that I hear and sometimes use. English was my favorite subject. I loved to diagram sentences. Imagine my shock when I found that that the grands haven’t been taught the skill.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    When I was in the 8th grade, my
    homeroom and English teacher was
    Mrs. Van Gorder. After dinner she
    would read us “the Classics” and
    we’d have to give a book report
    on it by taking notes. One story
    in particular was “The Great Stone
    Face” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I
    still remember the way she read
    and that made it interesting.
    Back then she was in her 60s, and
    everyone gave her attention…Ken

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I enjoyed the diagramming of
    sentences in the 6th, 7th, and 8th
    grades. I had the best teachers
    you could ask for all through
    school, and I appreciate them all.
    English was my favorite subject,
    although I don’t like to speak
    the proper way. And for some reason, I never liked reading
    anything at all, took up too much
    of my hunting and exploring in
    the mountain times…Ken

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

    He axed is quite common in these parts. I am trying to help grandchildren with homework, and there is a constant surprise. The spelling is the worst as they use words that confuse such as sore, sour, and soar. This even confuses me, and I was always thought to be a good speller. In my time we just happily learned random words without the confusion. I catch myself trying to diagram the sentence to explain, and still trying to master throwing a number in a machine that is drawn on paper and having the correct answer come out the other side. Yikes! What ever happened to good ole readin’,writin’, and arithmatic?

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 29, 2012 at 9:12 am

    If you listen to youngsters speaking today the lack of Grammer Instruction is painfully obvious. One of the biggest faux-pas I notice is the ending of sentences with a preposition and don’t forget the dangling participles. English was one of my best subjects also but when one attempts to use correct grammer in many circles folks accuse you of “Getting Uppity” so we tend to adopt the language of the majority of the people we are dealing with in any given situation.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    November 29, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Grammar was a very important part of my teaching of language arts for many years. Three days of literature, one of spelling, and one of grammar. That was the five day week. Irregular verbs were often tougher to teach because some memorization took place. Grammar sometimes just shows how literate people can be.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 29, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Oh, I remember those English classes. I hated them! Their rules usually made no sense to me. I used to wonder who made the rules. Just who decided which words got the funny little twist for their P and PP and which ones got the ..ed.
    Tipper I’ve heard most of the ones above, yours and theirs. Was think in the book? Was it think, thank, thunk? Who’d’a thunk it, thank is a whole different word.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Morning Tipper,
    Yes we diagrammed sentences and conjugated verbs and learned the Latin roots of many English words too. I was highly grateful for the latter when I took anatomy and physiology in college. Those root lessons, that I really did not like, helped me latter on to know the meanings of medical terms. I know what you mean about not speaking correctly or writing in perfect grammar despite good grades. I think that is a universal Southern malady that I have a good case of now! 😀

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Never heard those words used that way where I grew up. A relative from W. VA does say ax every time. She said, “I axed him why he never brung no deer home when he went hunting.” Honestly, that’s exactly how she talks.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 8:37 am

    We have the same usages as you, except I have never heard bung used.
    I remember studying tenses, and diagramming sentences – lucky for me,I always enjoyed English class.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Ed: That’s funny.
    We diagrammed sentences like crazy around 9th, 10th grade. It was very, very helpful. I don’t know if they still do that or not. Language is a tool and your expertise at it is immeasurably valuable in getting your points across and ultimately getting your way.
    Any questions, just ax me.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 29, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Tipper–As something of a contrarian grammarian, I deplore the modern-day tendency to ignore the basics of grammar, sentence construction, verb usage, and the like in public schools. The results show, and nowhere is it more obvious than in newspapers. I can go through our local daily any day and find not one or two but literally dozens of problematic usages.
    Having said that, a focus on reading and literature isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s probably no better way to learn proper modes of verbal expression, as well as how to write, than through reading time-tested literature. Of course that leads to the logical question: What are the twins reading?
    Hopefully there’s a good dose of classics from both British and American writers [(Dickens, Tennyson, the Romantic poets, Stevenson, Kipling, and of course Shakespeare on the British side), with good samplings of the likes of Twain, Longfellow, Hemingway, O. Henry (a Tar Heel, by the way), Poe, Dickinson, Alcott, and lots of others on this side of the Atlantic)]. If they are lucky they’ll never have to read anything by a son of these mountains whom I find the perfect antidote for insomnia, Thomas Wolfe. I suspect I’d be disappointed in their overall assigned reading, but then I’m crotchety and old-fashioned.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 29, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Back when I was in school we didn’t have words to conjugate like that. We just grunted and pointed our clubs. Our reading book had an etched picture of little stick figures trying to kill a woolly mammoth. It took four people to turn the pages.
    A friend at work uses:
    clean-clun-clunt and
    He has been out of work for the past three weeks due to deer season. I’ll bet hes scunt out a passel of them. I hope he clunt up his mess before he left camp.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 29, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Tipper, Your reflections on your Martin’s Creek School days brought back memories of how in country school we learned not only our grade-level lessons but had the advantage, if we listened, of getting a review of those grades below us and getting an advance to what we would learn in the grade ahead! What wonderful reinforcement. I both attended and taught my first year in a country school. I loved the way we “parsed” sentences, diagrammed them on the blackboard, talked about every part of speech and learned how words were used correctly, and conjugated verbs–especially those “irregular” verbs.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    November 29, 2012 at 6:42 am

    I was thinking about ya’ll just yesterday. I had used the word “het” as in heat-het-het (said to rhyme with yet), n’I thought to myself “there’s one for Tipper and the Blind pig readers to explore–verb tenses”. I’ve also heard eat-et-et (who knows how you’d spell that).
    As for your thoughts, I’d say that is common usage here. It’s funny, it’s really not how different we all are but how very much alike we are.
    Great day to all ya’ll.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 29, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Pretty much the second set, however I too have heard bunged a few times as in He sure bunged that one up,

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