Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Grammar Lesson 9

Time for this month’s Appalachian Grammar Lesson. In the past we’ve discussed how sometimes we shorten words in Appalachia-and other times we make them longer. Today’s lesson deals with the latter.

*ed is often added incorrectly to words to make the past tense and past participle of the words:

I swear you’ve growed a foot since the last time I saw you!

The little rat has blowed on that whistle all day. I shoulda throwed it in the trash when he laid it down yesterday.

I had just started into Walmart when it fell a flood and I got drownded.

Would I use the words in the sentences above? Yes. If I were writing, I’d most likely use the correct tense of the words-but if I’m talking-I’m going to say the sentences above exactly like that. How about you?



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  • Reply
    July 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    So many times I wished my ex-husband would have used “ed”… We were on vacation in Jamaica when he drew a crowd to listen to his grammar in the pool. He honestly didn’t know why they laughed when he said he lernt to swim in a creek. He thought they laughed at him for swimming in a creek. He turned right around and said that he retch me the room key. When he realized everyone was laughing again, he came back with a quick response and said, “Well, you should see me fetch.”

  • Reply
    July 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    or the opposite, like rurnt instead of ruined. I still say, “They!”. My whole family does. It’s like saying, “Oh my!” Usually it’s in the context of….”thayyyy, Lorrrd!” you have to drag it out to get the right effect. Or if someone says something outrageous, your eyes get big when you say “They!” I didn’t even know that was unusual until college (UGA). then I had everyone saying it! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Yes, and I try to catch myself. Cause I’m trying to teach my son “proper” English. LOL

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    July 27, 2011 at 4:34 am

    Just love reading your comments!

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    It’s so interesting how we each have our own “grammarisms” from the area we grew up in. Mine would be PA Dutch…I’m sure some of the things we say wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, but makes perfect sense to me! 🙂

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    July 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I grew up hearing this all around me, but my mom didn’t want me to speak like that so I didn’t. I did, however, think like this-so now I just use both! All the comments this evening are very thought provoking(to this old English major, anyway). Somewhere along the way, I developed the theory that our Appalachian dialect was separate & apart from “traditional” American English & should actually be treated as a different language. As extreme as it may sound, I think if our speech had been counted as such, we wouldn’t be on the endangered species list today.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Oh yeah, even us Texans speak like that sometime.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I write differently than I talk too. Was born in NW PA, and my writing is quite northern, but my speech is quite southern. Now ain’t that a hoot!!!
    God bless.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    July 26, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Nope, but I grew up in Missouri, so there you go . . . enjoying the music (as always), by the way!

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    It is not at all unusual in our little corner of NE Ohio- right across the river from WVA, to hear of someone who has blowed up their car engine, or throwed their back out and are laid up agin. I treasure the ability to be comfortable with both “dialects”, and, while I speak and write “proper” english, I have passed the old usages down to my children and now grandchildren. We must not let our rich culture slip away!

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    July 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I don’t use any of these — but many of the characters in my books do!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Tipper these word usages are something I heard growing up from some family…but not my immediate family. My mother would absolutely not tolerate it at home. The result being that they are not now a part of my language now.
    With that said, when I hear this use it falls easily upon my ears and I hardly notice it at all because it is so familiar to me.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    When I write, I typically use correct grammar. But, when I speak, watch out! You can tell that I grew up in the mountains in an instant! 😀
    I am proud of my accent and the words that I use.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I never would use any of those words like that but I hear them all of the time so they are pretty close to a part of my language, even if only in understanding. I like the way it sounds…

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    i have always written like i speak which aint exactly proper, as long as it is not something I am getting paid to do. When I have to i can and do use proper spellin and grammar…but am much more comfortable with my appalachian self than i am with the professional self

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I would tend to use them in conversation but not in writing. I love your grammar lessons; they make me think of our speaking in opposites.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Heard these all my life especially from older family members–heard it more in west Tn than here in middle Tn which is strange as we are nearer real mountain area here.
    Used to embarrass me when I was young but now I love to hear this language. I’m just sorry that it seems to be disappearing.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I’m late, I’m late for a very important date, no time to lose hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” like the Mad Hatter…ha
    Because… and you are not going to believe this! I was throwed back in time until I heared the dinner bell ringing..and I awoke from my mesmerisin’ thoughts…
    This has got to be some mountain magic working again…I was reading a book called the “Dean’s English” (1885)A Criticism on the Dean of Canterbury’s Essays of the Queens English by G. Washington Moon…It is signed on the preface A. W. Fleming March 1887…
    I come in here to my computer and opened the Blind Pig and what did I see…Lordy, Lordy someones watchin’ me…I couldn’t believe the coincidence of it all…and then Jims comment just sent it over the top….
    Jim…Do you know if A. W. was Walter L. Fleming’s brother or Father? I feel like I have been borned and throwed back in time??
    Thanks Tipper another great post!

  • Reply
    Mel H.
    July 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    These were common terms when I was growing up…now the “outlander” invasions, TV, movies, etc. have largely bleached the old language (which was closer to Shakespeare’s talk than any other in the USA) and made it more like standard middle america lingo.
    BTW, down here we would say “…come up a cloud..” for a rain storm.
    Mel H.

  • Reply
    Mary Jane Plemons
    July 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    We went to church with a woman who talked like she was fresh out of the holler, but she sang like a professional opera star…incredible voice, perfect enunciation and pronounciation…amazing!
    Around here, people say “Walmarts” and K-Marts”, and they don’t mean the plural! “I was in Walmarts and saw him just the other day.”

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I usually talk about the same way
    you do, but when writing to quote
    a document or something, I use the
    methods taught in English classes
    way back younder…Ken

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Tipper – I don’t use those words as much as I once did but, I know them. words of that nature I’ve always heard. Some people can be so creative designing words.
    Had a sister-in-law that was about like Carole Burnette. She loved a good laugh. This grammar lesson brought back memories of a story she loved to tell about a very creative wordsmith in the neighborhood. It seems he was describing a terrible abrasion he receive once in a bycycle wreck. He (as she said) was pointing out the cuts and abrasions he had received in the terrible ordeal. As you might guess, he didn’t have the proper words, so he just made them up.
    Instead of telling her that the cuts started on his shoulder, went around his arm finally ending down on the back of his arm plum under here. So, in his words (which were short and to the point) he said, “well this cut went all the way around here and then it went PUM-UNNA-HUNNA before I could jump off. Sliding down that road on that gravel raised knots on him faster than he could rub’um

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    July 26, 2011 at 11:50 am

    This is the sweetness of Appalachia-the colloquialism.(did I spell that right?) I have heard and used this all my life

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    July 26, 2011 at 11:14 am

    The girls sound beautiful!
    Thanks for the grammar lesson. I can hear what you write, and it sounds good to me!

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 10:57 am

    My parents never used the past tense in that format, therefore, as a child leaving language I would not have spoken in that formate. Having been a Language Arts teacher for many years would have kept me very aware. I have noticed with the NC friends I have made, that they do use those forms. I don’t correct them as it is their language learned as a child. I love the education you offer through your emails.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Yes, tipper I would do the same thing.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 26, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Tipper–That gratuitous use of “ed” at the end of words is by no means unique to Appalachia. Take, for example, a description frequently used to describe an exceptionally well-educated individual, i. e., “One of these days Tipper will likely get some type of higher educational degree and then she will be LEARNED in stature as well as from a practical standpoint.”
    Or look at a closely similar practice, that of adding “er” to the end of a word–normally for emphasis. Just yesterday for example, whicle writing a newspaper column, I quoted from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” in describing some of the latest of ongoing shenanigans by the bureaucratic bunglers at the head of affairs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I said that things were getting “curiouser and curiouser.” A previous commentator mention “waspers”, and there are other examples.
    As for the examples you mention, I don’t know that I use them verbally, unless I’m trying to make a point to some flatland furriner, and I certainly eschew them when writing. On the other hand, I don’t so much as blink when I hear the words, and in this case, as so many others, it is well to remember that often Appalachian talk is nothing more than traditional English tracing back to Elizabethan times (16th century) or even earlier.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    July 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I grew up on a cotton mill village in Spartanburg County. About half my classmates used -ed and half didn’t. A lot of my relatives in the mountains use it, too. I’d get a good dose of it at reunions with, “You shore have growed.” When I went home from school one day in the first grade, I used “knowed” in a sentence because I had heard someone use it in class. I got a stern lecture from Momma that “we” don’t talk like that.
    My husband’s people talk like that and they are from Florida with Carolina roots.
    Anyway, I like to hear it. I get a warm feeling in my heart when I do. For that reason, I write characters that talk like that.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    July 26, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Except for “drownded”, I use them all when speaking. Like you, when writing I use the proper words.

  • Reply
    Laurie Stone
    July 26, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Oh Tipper – What a great grammar lesson.
    When I was borned, it was araining so hard that daddy’s chevy got plumb stuck coming out of the holler.
    When he dropped my mother off at the hopital he went afishin for trout and didn’t git back till the whole event was over.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Those words are all familar to me, but I seldom use them. A couple of weeks ago I almost got drownded leaving Walmart! Honestly! We used to call wasp “waspers.” I didn’t know that was wrong for many years!! We also called moths “millers.” Don’t know where that came from!

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    July 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

    oh yes, I add the ed to many words! But I rarely write them that way. On several occasions I have had people to say, “you don’t write like you talk.” I even had a teacher to think I had copied an assignment from somewhere, because I wrote correctly but spoke terribly! So see there.. we know better! haha!

  • Reply
    July 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

    It’s funny how being from different parts of our country, our English language differs so much. Same with our accents too.
    I don’t use ed like you, folks around here would look at me weird… in a loving way of course, 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Funny, sometimes I do and others I don’t. I grew up saying them business world, not so much.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

    always look forward to the Appalachian grammar — tickles me plumb to death, it does!

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    July 26, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Good morning, Tipper.
    Interesting grammar lesson, today. I knowed all that and have talked that way all my life.
    Along the way, however, I learned proper grammar and can use it, as well.
    It depends upon the person or group with whom I’m talking as to how I’ll speak. With a bunch of southern friends, I’ll slip back into hillbilly, usually.
    When I’m writing colloquially, I’ll write that way.
    When I’m writing or speaking professionally, I almost always use proper grammar — to the best of my limited ability.
    So, I guess it depends mostly on the circumstances and the people I’m talking to, and the purpose of the conversation. I’m kinda like a chameleon that way.
    Now, I’m all tireded after all this thinkin’. (grin)

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