Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 23

Warsh holler winder minner adding rs to words

Sometimes in Appalachia we add the letter r to words or we replace the last letter with an r. One of the most common examples is saying holler for hollow.

A few other examples:

  • warsh (wash)
  • winder (window)
  • banjer (banjo)
  • tomater (tomato)
  • minner (minnow)

The r use is certainly on the decline in my area of Appalachia, however I still hear all the examples above on a fairly regular basis with the words minner and holler being used most often. How about where you live?


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  • Reply
    Charles E. Howell
    March 2, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    My Mother to my Father..”George don’t say Aryan!” George replies…..”.I didn’t say Aryan I said Narayan!”

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    January 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I grew up with hearing these saying and pronouncing mater for tomato.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    January 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Mother’s father was a German descendant his father was one.He studied every thing he would get his hands on and didn’t like slang language. Mother tried to no effect to rear us without so much slang but it was such a delight to me to hear and copy it. Our Mountains folks are the ones that were right in my book.This is our trade mark. Ever English teacher I had corrected me and I always wondered why. I was up North and they picked up on my lingo and of course I really spread it thick to entertain them.I had a ball, I do anywhere I go. I love people and I have no big I’s or little you’s they get in their breeches just like I do. Love my Jesus and these old Mountains ways.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Just read through these and I didn’t notice the important “nannar puddin”. Bet Granny makes a great one.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 30, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Was amazed to find out my great aunt’s name was not Ider!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 30, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    and Howland….
    Lemme ‘splain how I interpret
    Apppalachian folks in the WNC mountains might say or mostly say or may not say..
    “Idear” in place of the proper Queens English idea…
    Appalachian folks in E.Tenn. (hillbillies) might or might not say…”Idee” in place of idea…
    Of course, there are crossovers! ha
    Those are the most prevalent pronunciations other than (idea) that I hear most!
    Now then I have an ideal,
    and I have an idea!
    My ideal…would be that we all try to keep some of our dialect, requardless whether it is Yankee, which I happen to love the “bronx accent”, or my Southern (WNC) Appalachian/Hillbilly (E. Tenn)raisen’ accent/dialect!
    My idea…is for everyone to practice and keep remembering our hertiage though our lanquage, dialect and accents…
    Since I am English, Scot and mainly Irish/German heritage,. born and raised in the Appalachians, I have a terrible time with it all…compadrae? (sic) LOL
    Thanks A bunch! Tipper

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve been Wander to my family all my life. Or Wonder.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    When I was little I got told off at school for saying “he went to bed and rested his head on a ‘piller'”. Next day I said “Can I stand underneath your ‘umbrellow'”. Life is tough when you’re four-and-a-half.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    One time I had my Yankee neighbor and
    friend here in my shop and we were
    talkin’ when another friend stuck his
    head in the door and hollared “Jeet
    yet?” I answered “Nope”. It was about
    dinner time and the Yankee neighbor
    had no ide what we were talking about.
    I love the old ways and dialect, was
    taught to speak different in school
    by the English teachers. Only did
    that for the grades…Ken

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Lemme ‘splain. Thanks to my travels about the Eastern US and my birth in upstate New York (Sorry about that, but it was beyond my control) I speak four languages: Georgia Cracker around home, Appalachian American, the Queen’s English for them as can stand it and D*mYankee when I can’t get the point across any other way. Seems like I choose the language automatically according to whom I’m conversing with, I’ll just drift into whichever dialect that person is most familiar with.
    Having said that, I’m proud to admit that every one of the words in this month’s grammar lesson is in my vocabulary, and yes, that’s a banjer hangin’ on the wall over thar, an’ th’ new strings fer it is in the roll-top desk. I heard Grandpa Jones refer to it as a banjer once or twice so I guess hit’s proper to call it that.
    I remember, back in the 70s, reading (somewhere) that “in two generations, everyone will be talking like Dan Rather…” Thankfully, it hasn’t come to that point yet, at least not down here in Southwest Georgia.
    It’s really a fun time when I proof-read the articles that my wife writes for the local once-a-week paper and find that she’s somehow slipped into ‘mountaineer’ dialect; the latest was this week when she used ‘Ideal” for “Idea” several times in one article. We get to joke a lot about that each weekend as I go over what she’s written.
    Now I’m trying to figure out why most of this post is written in Queen’s English even though I’m in conversation with a bunch of mountain folks…

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    January 30, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Beller isn’t a word??? haha My Granny used to say quit bellerin’ like a cow after her calf!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    January 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Tipper: If’n yuns thak we tak funie yuns ort to go to Scotland. Rat thar in Eduinbur, when I wuz tryn to buy sumen I coud’n undestand a werd that sails lade wus asayen! I thak she wuz a speken Anglish but I wuz buffalode! Now thar! Hope you got sunshine in Brastown!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I grew up hearing them all (except “banjer” – somehow that seems disrespectful to call that fine instrument by other than its proper name~)and using them all; and still slip into that way of talk in certain settings. Same for all my kinfolk Kansas through Texas. Seems there’s “formal” talk and “kith and kin” talk.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 30, 2014 at 10:58 am

    We frequently read articles about the harm that TV has done, but they never mention this one: erasing regional accents and pronunciations. Now the younger folks speak alike — no matter where they live. They don’t have any idea what they are missing! I bet they don’t even know the song: Pie, pie, tater pie, P-I-E, E-I-P, pie! E-pers, I-pers, eata piece of pie, fer I’m plum fool ’bout tater pie!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 30, 2014 at 10:45 am

    This really happened to me!
    I was at the flea market in Crossville, Tn. As usual we went to lookin’ at some of the plants ans shrubs for sale. This was last year of course! We still have an inch or so of snow this morning.
    At any rate, we saw some real purty shrubs and we asked the feller, “What color are these shrubs, they sure are purty?” He didn’t say nuthin’! Just sorta starred at us! My first thought was “Br’Rabbit”…ha I said again, “What color?” He held his hand so high, still not sound!
    Me thinkin’, “Br’Rabbit” with a twist to the story! LOL Again, I said, thinkin’ he might be readin’ my lips and that the poor thing was “deef”! I mounthed with the sound very slow…”WWhhaaattt ccooolllooorrr! Then he smiled real big…”Jello”…”What, I said?” He motioned and pointed to all….”Thes jello”, thes jello, thes jello, thes, shook his head at that one and held up three fingers and said, “trace jello!”
    “All JELLO?” I said. He nodded, I said, “thanks and left!”
    The “storal to this moral” is for you to tell me where he was from?
    If you guessed south of the border you were right! Theese man’s plantas’ were all “jello”
    I didn’t need any “JELLO” (YELLOW) shrubs!
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    January 30, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Here in East Texas those of my generation still commonly pronounce our words like that, but I notice the most young folks have not continued. They have a way of talking that makes it hard for me to understand them sometimes.

  • Reply
    Miriam Rahn
    January 30, 2014 at 10:32 am

    I have heard all of these growing up in SC and still use some of them. The one I use all of the time (and I never hear anyone say it ‘cept me) is yont. yont me to go to the store for you. (Do you want me to) Does anyone else say this?

  • Reply
    speckled snowater
    January 30, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I’m late commentin’ late this mornin’!
    I had to open the “winder” and “skeer” them “hog bellied” Jays away frum the feeder, so’s the little wren type fellers could get a bite to et. By the time I hollered and shet the winder it was gettin’ on up toward ten!
    I am not understandin’ all this word thang this mornin’! Have some been havin’ trouble with their Anglish? At first, when I seen the list, I said, “Self, that Tipper, is “Springsick”, she’s a’wantin’ to “warsh her “winders”, sit on the porch and “play her banjer” get her “meters” planted so’s she can go fishin’ with those new shinny Spring minners!” Wall, I guessed I wuz wrong…Them new words you put there in them “parenthesees”
    I haven’t heerd much but you left out ‘tater. That man at co-op or Grainge as he called hisself…asked me if I needed some “seed potatos” he said it so hi-flutin’ and la-ti-da that when he brung them over to the counter, I expected them to have high-heels and a feather boa round the sproutin’ necks!
    Thanks Tipper
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    January 30, 2014 at 10:10 am

    It’s always a little surprising to find so many similarities between local dialects from Appalachia and those out here on the edge of the Great Plains. Most of the added r’s are (or used to be, before the man on the sis o’clock news became the standard)in use hereabouts. The one that survives strongest is “warsh” for wash, and we get bedeviled by the younger set for using it.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    January 30, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I regret to admit that I routinely use all these “r’s” . My wife often kids me but as our friend Zach said once upon a time , she has a pretty heavy accent herself even though she grew up close to Knoxville, Tn. My grandsons only try to educate me on supper and dinner. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Marc Kruger
    January 30, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Growing up in Jersey, we all said ‘warter’ for water and ‘warsh’ for wash. At 70 years old, these are still my pronunciations even though my children don’t use them. When we lived in West Tennessee, my children used ‘fixin’, ‘yonder’ and other words that they adopted from their local children friends.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    January 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Those are very common where I live.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Interesting words today! Our native born Carolinian friends do speak with the ‘r’ added. I’m afraid that was something I noticed when we built our house in NC. However, banjer still has me a bit confused. I need a clarification on it. I’m still learning!

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    January 30, 2014 at 9:34 am

    ?I grew up hearing those words pronounced that way. Still hear them that way in my head.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Just yesterday my cousin said they cancelled school again because the roads up the hollers were still slick. That’s exactly how we talk (to each other). We also drop the a and add ie to people’s names.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Familiar with all including Jim’s! One will still slip out from time to time when I am conversing, especially if they are from my neck of the woods. I’ll guarantee you I do not have to think about them to use them, they come natural to me. I guess I assimilated into a more sterile form of dialect when I moved closer to the suburbs and into a career. I still hear some if those words used but not like I use to.
    I loved Ed’s story!!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Our family also does this with names ending in “a”—-Eva is Evar, Della is Dellar, Erma—Ermar Jo. Those come immediately to mind. Proper pronunciation just does not sound right.

  • Reply
    Debbie Nobles
    January 30, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Still talk like that an I am almost 60. My grandparents were from western nc, even tho they left the area for work their mountain ways stayed with them. We were lucky enough to live near them so thank God I am that way too and proud of it.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    January 30, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I never knew that those words were spelled any other way.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    January 30, 2014 at 8:48 am

    however you say it you can’t beat a good, fresh ‘mater sammich.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 8:46 am

    T V has probably had the greatest effect in changing how we pronounce our words. I’m not sure there is anyone on T V that can pronounce probably.
    I hear proly or proby constantly.

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    January 30, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I talk like that all the time tipper. lol Thanks again for the book, I’m surely enjoying it.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 30, 2014 at 8:16 am

    After reading these first few comments I realize I must be one of the “older ones.” I recently gave up trying to speak “English” and reverted back to my native tongue. Since then I hear more and more people talk like me. Maybe (hopefully) it will make a comeback.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 30, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Tipper–the “r” list is a long one.
    In addition to those examples you offer, here are some others:
    tater (potato)
    widder (widow)
    baccer; also backy (tobacco)
    willer (willow)
    feller (fellow)
    beller (bellow, as a cow does)
    meller (mellow)
    marshmeller (marshmallow)
    yeller or yellar;yellarbells; yellar ribbon, etc. (yellow)
    tallar (tallow)
    In fact, about any word ending in “o” or “ow” was likely to see the vowel sound rendered as “r.” I suspect there’s a linguistic explanation for that common tendency, but I’m not sufficiently learned along those lines to know what it is.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 30, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I remember feller for fellow and crick for creek. Most of these
    have gone by the wayside but are fond memories of my Grandmother.

  • Reply
    Rebel Dunn
    January 30, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I live in the Cookeville area of middle Tennessee and not only do I hear it ,I talk that way . I’m 41 now but when I was a kit I was ten times worse.

  • Reply
    jane bolden
    January 30, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Heard it years ago from people of my grandmother’s generation. Hear Engish people on tv replace the a with an r sometimes.

  • Reply
    steve in Tn
    January 30, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Still heard a lot in Tn. It is decreasing, as kids leave the area for school and jobs, they come hoee with a more “nationalized” vocabulary and pronounce words more like they hear at work. I had to work hard to loose my accent for work, but still like to hear those words.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I hear the folks in the piedmont and on the coast adding a r to one word in particular, that word is idea which they pronounce idear. Folks who live in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 30, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Yep, I’ve heard all of those,and how about har for harrow also mater for tomato.
    It all just sounds like home to me!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 30, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Once in a while, I run into someone who users “r” this way, but not often. It was more frequent when I was a kid in East Tennessee many years ago.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 30, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Howdy neighbor! Got any baccer on you?
    Naw, I give my last chaw to Widder Franks. She run out of her snuff. She had took to chewin on a willer limb. I couldn’t help but feel sorry fer her.
    Well I’d reckun I’ll hoof it on over to Ralph’s store. I gotta have me a chaw.
    Naw, don’t do that! Foller me back over to my barkhouse in the holler. I’ve got a Kentucky Twist hid out in there just for times like these. Are you man enough fer it?
    Well, right now, if God grew it I’ll chew it. Les go!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 30, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Tomater is the only one I ever heard on a regular basis, almost never recently

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    January 30, 2014 at 7:10 am

    The added r is definitely on it’s way out here in NW GA. My grandmother was the last person of my acquaintance who said all your list. We still say holler and minner, but with declining frequency .

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 7:06 am

    I have heard all(100 per cent). My uncle says tater for potato. Happy day from middle TN.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 6:14 am

    There is a small Town in Morgan County that I’ve some of the older generation call it with an “eeer” on the end.. Eva is the name and they pronouns it Evee-er.. or heard some folks instead of “hallelujah” call it “hallalujaher”.. or Love cornbread and “taters”..

  • Reply
    January 30, 2014 at 5:30 am

    I grew up hearing these words pronounced with the r. Another was tator (potato). I think it’s changing as the older ones pass on.

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