Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Saying By Way of John Parris

Colorful Sayings From Appalachia

Since I decided to feature Appalachian Sayings as a regular series here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn, I’ve kept my eyes and ears out for colorful meaningful phrases. Recently I came across a dandy one in the book My Mountains My People written by John Parris.

The phrase doesn’t fall into the common sayings that I’ve been sharing, but I decided it was so unique and to the point that I had to share it with you anyway.


Excerpt from the article Rustic Imagery Disappearing written by John Parris.

“One of the old timers who was seldom at as loss for a word was Israel (Wid) Medford over in Haywood County. When he lacked other means of expression, a coinage of his own would come from his lips. Once when interrupted while telling a story, he turned to the feller and said: “Just tend to broilin’ your bacon, Jonas and let me travel to suit my own legs.” After that, the feller stuck to minding his own business.”


Just tend to broilin’ your bacon, and let me travel to suit my own legs.

As I said, the saying is by no means common-but I think I’m going to start saying it and maybe it’ll catch on.



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  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    April 3, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Tipper Re reading this post on John Parish when I was a teen I believe he came to see Mama for an interview someone had told him about my Miss Julie but I can’t remember no out come of his visit . He was an elllecent writer

  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    November 16, 2017 at 10:26 am

    My Great Grandmother, Sarah Parris is buried in the Bradley Cemetery; Smokey Mountain National Park.

  • Reply
    Ann lingerfelt
    January 24, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Have you heard. The expression. Zank used in place of sink. Like the kitchen sink. Or. Yeggs for the word eggs. Cook me two yeggs. Over. Yander. For look over yonder when trying to think of someone’s name they were discussing they would say “you know ole hickey or watchchamacall him.

  • Reply
    Denise Duckett Mauck
    May 28, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    These may not be Appalachian in origin, but my mountain family just about wore them out from daily use (usually accompanied by a roll of the eyes):
    “Heavens to Betsy””, “For Pete’s Sake!” and “What in Sam Hill?”
    Who were these people because I remember getting my legs switched often enough when an adult uttered one of their names around me!

  • Reply
    Yvette McClure
    August 18, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Wid Medford was my 3rd great grandpa!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 18, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    I’ve heard the “Are you writing a book” response for years, when someone would answer “Yeah I am” the response “Well leave that chapter out” would follow.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 18, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    If Mike McLain could give me his grandparents names I will try to find a connection to John Parris. John is buried in Keener Cemetery near the new Jackson County Courthouse but it isn’t too far from Parris Cemetery. Maybe a mile as the crow flies.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 18, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Just as,
    “Too many cooks spoil the soup”…Sometimes too many story tellers “mess with broth”, or confuse the issue, as well. Tis better that “one just tends to broilin’ his own bacon” and let the other one “travel on his own legs first”, before interjecting their story! I love it!
    I was so glad to see the word “caurne as Brenda mentions…
    My Mother and Grandmother always said that word, whenever they smelled something that didn’t suit their nostrils…in other words it stank! I tried to research the word years ago at our little community library. Carrion, as Jim said, was as close to the word that I found.
    I think it is a disambiguation of carrion from Scot Irish.
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    March 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    A lot of people were from Holland through way bill of Ireland.(far fected) My Grandfather called grandmother Dutch. Dutch had a word for dirty (Pitchily). It may be spelled different. She had a crude way of speaking English as well.Stars for stairs, fetch for bring. couch for catch, clumb for climb.
    John Paris was an excellent writer.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    “Jes’ tend to your own knittin'” was the Yankee version.
    For Brenda McLaine: I have, it’s an East Kentucky pronunciation for ‘carrion’; dead stuff, buzzard breakfast.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 18, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Tipper and Karen–The word cuarne or kuarne Karen mentions is a derivative or mountain talk way of saying carrion.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    March 18, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    The Blind Pig and the Acorn is the
    only place where you can get true
    Appalachian Sayings, I love it!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 18, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I looked and saw that John Parris was from Sylva. My McLain Grandparents and great-grandparents are buried in the Parris Family Cemetery, which in between downtown Sylva and downtown Dillsboro. I am wondering if this is the same Parris family.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 18, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Now that’s a good-un! I think I will add it to my repertoire!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    March 18, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I remember someone on the German side of my family saying “you go boil your potatoes and I will boil mine”.
    Probably meant the same thing.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2015 at 11:20 am

    This is going to be an enjoyable feature, Tipper. You do an excellent job of covering every aspect of our Appalachian heritage. Forgot to tell you how comforting it is to have the music back with my morning coffee. The beauty of your music is that it is unchanging. It touches a place in my heart bringing back memories of “Dinner on the Ground” singing and front porch harmonizing.
    I always have to quote my Dad, who was my greatest hero. He would answer our many questions growing up most of the time. Sometimes we asked something we had no business knowing, and his reply would be, “Are you nosy or writin’ a book?” I have never heard anyone else say some of the expressions he used, but then he was a true mountain man.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 18, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I like the saying but due to personal knowledge of John Parris I’ve found you can’t use his articles for accurate research. He wasn’t above using poetic license to enhance a story, Like my friend Bob Scott who was writing for the Asheville Citizen-Times earlier in his career told me many writers “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” As the old timers would put it his stories are entertaining but ain’t exactly so. John wrote of mountain characters for so long he became one.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2015 at 9:05 am

    That was an interesting way to tell someone to m.y.o.b. Let your readers know if it catches on.

  • Reply
    Brenda McLaine
    March 18, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Have you ever heard the word Cuarne, Kuarne meaning something something nasty,stinking?

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    March 18, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Not common but certainly colorful.

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    March 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I heard an older person say one time “You just go on and shuck your own corn.” LOL 🙂

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 18, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I like that one Tip. I may have never heard it before but I know beyond a doubt it’s one of our Appalachian folks that said it. It just sounds like our way of being in the world.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I like this too, especially the ‘travel to suit my own legs’ part!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 18, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Tipper–John Parris, or “little Johnny” as folks in Jackson County called him to the day he died, was a really interesting fellow and one of the finest when it came to sharing mountain folkways.
    I’m sure many of your readers remember his “Roaming the Mountains” column and his five books based on those columns. What they may not realize that those books contain only a small percentage of the columns he wrote–three a week for 40 years. Do the math–that’s over 6,000 published columns.
    He forms the subject of a chapter in a book I’m now completing, “Profiles in Mountain Character,” and I find him a fascinating figure. One of the high points of my writing life came late in his life when he quoted me in one of his columns. Rest assured I was sittin’ high and struttin’ proud that day.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. That saying is a mighty colorful one and maybe just the phrase when one encounters a meddlesome busybody.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    March 18, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Tipper: Ifen you er aggravatted,it’d be hard to remember that expresian! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 18, 2015 at 7:26 am

    That’s a much more expressive way of saying: “How about mindin’ yer own bizness and I’ll mind mine!”

  • Reply
    March 18, 2015 at 7:13 am

    I like it!

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