Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 24

In Appalachia we often add the word in to our sentences even when it’s unnecessary.

  • He said he saw the biggest bear he ever seen in above Pap’s house.
  • Charlene dropped her earring and we liked to have never found it. I got the flashlight and then we saw it laying right in under the tv.
  • He used to have a ole lean-to right back in against the hill over there.
  • Just walk back in behind the school house and you’re sure to see the mess they made.

I think we add the word in to our sentences for emphasis. Whatever the reason, it would be impossible for me to remove the unnecessary ins from my speech even if I wanted to.


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  • Reply
    April 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I always hear an additional up also…”I saw the book up in under sister’s bed”…
    I hear it and say it all the time

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    April 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Does anyone hear or use “overneath,” which is pretty much the opposite of underneath?

  • Reply
    mike echols
    March 31, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    How about”up-in-under yonder”?
    that will make your head spin !!

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    March 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I think I only use the extraneous in when I say, “back in behind the so-and -so,” but there might be other times. I’ll have to think about it.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 31, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    When I read Mary Lou McKillup’s story
    about her dad being a Prankster, it
    reminded me of my first job, working in a Machine Shop in Northwest Atlanta. I was training to be a Machinist when one of the older guys told me to go to the Crib (where they stored tools) and ask Pop for a Sky Hook. I waited for my turn at the little window and finally an old man about 90 came and ask me what I wanted.
    Soon as I told him, he started cussin’ me something awful, followed
    me all the way back to where I worked
    where all the guys was just a rollin’
    with laughter. Needless to say, that
    was some experience…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 31, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I read your examples and I couldn’t see nothing wrong with them…After reading the comments, I reread your examples agin…I guessin’ I can see in what you are talkin’ about!
    What got me perplexed was that picture of the…what I thought might be a Wrens nest behind the wrench on what looked like a metal gutter piece! Then I realized that it was a “wrench” left in the gutter while working on the roof and pine needles piled up with it!…Stuff happens like that around here too!
    Beautiful day out there today and the call of the ‘jorees’ are soundin’ all over my neck of the woods!
    Interesting post, thanks Tipper!

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    March 31, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I enjoy all your posts so muchand the comments of others, but a storyteller like I have receive the titled of being a natural we do add and really get laughs.
    Mountain people are have been laughed at and appreciated so much as well.
    I do love this there hills and love the old ways of Mountains people. I crucify the English language sometimes.sometime through ignorant and some on purpose.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Maybe this is a country thing, a down-home thing, a plain folk thing – my family has used and still uses all of these “ins”, “upinunders”,”outs”, “round-abouts”, “twixt”, “crostwise”, and such. I’m thinking it does somehow emphasize how far in, how deeply under, how far away, how tangled. . .whether just to clarify a point or for dramatic emphasis.
    For what it’s worth, my husband’s family doesn’t talk like this – .

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    March 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    It is funny to see these saying here in these Mountains.I saw the wrench and thought of such a funny story on my sister, People used to pull tricks on people. My Dad was one of the worst prankster around.One day He sent Memmy Jim was her nick name. He told her to go to the store and get him a left handed monkey wrench. Poor thing did and the men who sit in the back as we called the lair bench horse laughed her. She soon was aware Dad had pulled a trick on her.She had more more temper and boy did he catch it when she got back home.He said he had to put his handkerchief over his face to keep her from seeing him laugh.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 31, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I use the “ins” all the time when I’m
    telling someone directions. But if
    I’m writing, sometimes I will substitute
    a synonym, just to keep from being so
    wordy. (can’t spell monotonous)
    It always amazes me how you can think
    of these words of our Appalachian
    culture, and bring it to our attention.
    Nice post…Ken

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    March 31, 2014 at 11:23 am

    As I read this post I realized just how often I still do this!!! You’re right, it does get our point across (acrost) 🙂

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 9:16 am

    When I started reading today’s grammar lesson, I immediately thought about the way Mammy used to add “in” to her sentences. I remember her telling me to go on and get in bed right in twix my sisters. She would tell us to put some apple butter in twix our biscuit if we wanted something sweet for breakfast.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 31, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Where I come from the bear would have been way back up in above Pap’s house and the earring would have been way back upinunder the bed. As a matter of fact I was a way grown youngin before I realized upinunder was three words.
    We used to go grabbling for catfish upinunder the rocks in the Little Tennessee.
    PS: The reason we found the ear bob upinunder the bed was because we didn’t have a TV to look inunder.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 8:55 am

    There you go, Tipper making me think again. I am so very familiar with that way of speaking, but I never thought about it. It seems that it went something like this…
    He puts his shoes up anunder the bed. It is run together so much that it seems like a whole new made up word.
    I have thought of our habit of describing everything in relation to where we live. We say she lives down in Tennessee or they live up in Beckley. Not sure if this is Appalachian or not, but it must be with all those extra ups and downs.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 31, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Maybe it’s because I’d usually rather be out than in – at least in terms of physical position – but I’d say that “out” is used about as much as “in” for these sorts of things. In fact, “out” could’ve been used either as a replacement for “in” for a couple of these examples, or otherwise added.
    Stringing together a pair of prepositions like “over in” is an example of speech in Appalachia which I don’t recall hearing elsewhere.
    I think I’d usually use “in” and seldom “out” when making a double preposition with either “up” or “down”, such as:
    – Hall’s Holler Branch comes in from the right up in the middle of that tangle of laurel, just beyond that downed hemlock that you have to climb under.
    – There’s a pair of wheels and axle off of a narrow gauge rail car laying down in the creek a rock throw below the Forney Creek Cascades.
    (Both of these statements are true, by the way; a link to a picture of the latter is below).
    Knowing Tipper, I suspect she left out “out” when she was talking about “in” as a teaser for suckers like me.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Habits are hard to break, so as long as you know that it is a part of a specific type of locational speech, then that is just where you came from. I must listen more carefully to our friend’s speech when they speak as I had never picked up on them using it. But I think you are right when you say it is for emphasis.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 31, 2014 at 7:38 am

    When I first started reading this one I thought, that is something I have never done, but as I read on I can see that I do it quite often. It is funny how after 5 generations away from NC in Florida my family still handed down this way of talking.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 31, 2014 at 7:33 am

    We add words to enhance our descriptive process. LOL!

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