Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 27

Unusual grammar usage in appalachia

“A redundant that is sometimes used after where, what, and similar conjunctions.”

The quote from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English is a fancy way of saying we use a lot of thats in Appalachia.


  • I don’t know why that he thinks he can get away with that. I mean good grief they’re not blind they’re going to see what he’s doing.
  • Do you know when that they are going to start moving over to the new store?
  • When they pulled up I was telling him how that I had been the one taking care of that place for the last several years.

I don’t ever ‘hear’ the extra that when I’m listening to someone speak because the usage is so common in my area, but its there. I most notice the usage is in my own writing. I really like the word that but I bet you’ve already figured that out.



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  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    January 12, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    A great book on grammar and such is Purge Your Prose of Problems by editor and writer, Bobbie Christmas of Zebra Communications. She writes about when to use that and which, a problem many writers face.
    Good post, Tipper. We do tend to talk the way others in our community talk even when we know better.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 10, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    and Jim…you surely missed all my comments about the joree-bird last spring and early summer. I was hoping to trip some up on the name Towhee…didn’t do it!
    I call the Towhee a joree! My Dad and family called it a joree-bird!
    Now that is redundant!…LOL
    I explained to my kids many years ago about the song the Towhee makes in the Spring and that is how it came by joree!
    The ones at my feeder lately have been “chewink-ing”…LOL I suppose as a call to the other joree-birds in close attendance to the feeder.
    I do not call sumac “shoemake”. I have always called it “Sue-Mack”! With emphasis on Mack…I don’t know why, guess that’s that way I grew up hearing it pronounced!
    Thanks Tipper, and Jim…
    PS…Jim have you ever sat in the quiet of the woods, hardly a sound and heard a rustling in the leaves that sent your heart to beating a bit faster than normal. You listen again, and think that is just too loud for a squirrel. Could it be a turkey or other varmint that you might not be expecting…The leaf ruckus begins again and you raise your gun, zone in your ears like a cat trying to pick up the incoming direction of the sound when just about that time you hear “CHEWINK”..”CHEWINK” AND IN THE DISTANCE its mate calling…JOREEEE, JOREEEE …lol If you have then I know you are a real zoned in hunter!

  • Reply
    Yecedrah Higman
    January 10, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    I am from the flat lands in Arkansas and I have always used that in speaking… also I have used then!! Well then…. that’s that. How about that then? I am just a southern girl and I use southern words. I think yall is my favorite. We moved to Kansas about three years ago and these people still laugh at my southern accent.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I had to read this carefully to see the extra “that”! It’s not overly used here, but common enough that I didn’t notice it at first.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 10, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    In love with that. I have to reread everything I write twice-

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    January 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    I can’t top that Don Casada or that there Jim Casada. But let me know if you need a quintuple negative.
    Meanwhile, I’ll echo Gayle Larson on the epidemic misuse of the word like. It’s almost a mark of illiteracy, not to mention the use of like as verbal quotation marks for quotes, self-quotes and pseudo-quotes by all those speaking in drama script, which seems to be nearly everyone.
    Here’s a web address for an excellent article on modern quasi-literacy that shows how long it’s existed.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 10, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Anybody remember “That Was the Week That Was” the TV show from the 60’s? What kind of grammar is that?

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I haven’t noticed that you use a lot of “that”.. When someone ends a sentence after scolding an individual and says “And that is that”.. meaning: I’m not going to tell you again..

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Even with several English classes, I just cannot break my country habits. I actually do better if I read it again. In my speech I tend to run a bunch of words together then throw numerous extra unnecessary words into the mix. “Whyhoncha checkinsee if that girl brought iner homework that she was assigned by that teacher that day.”

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 10, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Since brother Don mentions the lead photo with today’s blog, I would be interested in learning how your readers pronounce the word for the plant (sumac) shown in the foreground.
    To me it is “shoemake” and a little orange-breasted bird black tail feathers is a joeree, not a towhee. I think it is fairly commonplace for mountain folks to have interesting and different pronunciations.
    In our courting days my wife would not order ice tea, never mind that it was the drink she really wanted, because of the long, long “i” yours truly employed in pronouncing ice.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. For Lisa and her sentence ending prepositions, here’s what Winston Churchill had to say: “That is something up with which I will not put.”

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Well, What About THAT!…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 10, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I used to work with a lady that ended almost every sentence with “and that.” She originally came from Buffalo, NY. I don’t know if “and that” is regionalism or just her own ism.
    Like you I have a propensity for using unnecessary “thats” when I speak and tend to question them when I write but ofttimes leave them where I find them. When read aloud something seems amiss without that that.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 10, 2015 at 10:27 am

    That’s OK with me! Unfortunately the trend in grammar to eliminate the word “that” has made many published sentences impossible to understand. Adding a “that” clarifies the meaning.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    January 10, 2015 at 10:19 am

    My editing mentors taught me to question every “that” and eliminate as many as possible. Doing so made me realize how much the word is overused. Like you, I don’t notice it nearly as much in speech as I do when writing. Wish I could say the same for ending sentences with a preposition, but that one hurts my ears.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Lol…..speaking of grammar and the dialect….I was just sitting here thinking its cold as whiz. I decided to google that to see what my mama meant when she said that and guess where it lead me?

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

    I don’t hear such (as that) “thats” either, but it is readily apparent in writing.There are certain grammar errors, like double negatives and wrong verb tenses that are obvious.The wrong usage of transitive/intransitive lay is one that really grates on me.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 10, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I don’t notice that so much but I sure do hate the way folks use the word “like”.
    I was like really happy or he was like angry with everybody.
    It is not a local thing. I hear it on tv when people all over the place are being interviewed.
    You would think someone would correct them.
    It is amazing how many times they use it in one interview.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I have a habit of going back and re-reading anything I have written. Like you, I don’t notice the repetition or unnecessary use of words until I’m writing. That is a word I really like, too.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I know how that you came to be where you were at when you took that picture and who it was that had the bush hogging done.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 10, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Tipper–While all of these are familiar to me, the grammatical gremlin associated with that that I have heard most frequently over the years is “that there.” For example, “That there Tipper Pressley has a pronounced penchant for throwing the word that around in her writings like Grandpa used to scatter scratch feed for his chickens.”
    Jim asada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 10, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Yes, I agree that I already figured the that thing out. How that happens I’m not sure that I know but I do know that that is exactly the thing that is most likely to happen every time that that word comes up.
    Could it be that we like that word very much!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 10, 2015 at 7:23 am

    I think, by being an English teacher in Appalachia, I somewhat “broke” myself of using the redundant “that” so frequently. In fact, just this week, as I read a post on Facebook and saw the unnecessary that overused, I thought about how I used my red pen on students’ papers and wrote them a note calling attention to their redundancy! This word redundancy may have been an “educated” word to add to their vocabulary–but even noting their errors in red did not do the trick in getting them to speak/write differently! In Appalachia, it’s hard to break deeply-set language patterns!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 10, 2015 at 6:18 am

    That is just so funny!
    Great “that” post today!
    Thanks Tipper,

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