Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 101

southern accents

It’s time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I’m sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words. To start the videos click on them and then to stop them click on them again.


1. Law: interjection or exclamation of surprise or admiration. “They law I ain’t seen you ages! How in the world have you been? Come on in will you stay for supper?”

2. Law: federal or state law enforcement officer. “She was carrying on so that I reckon they had to call the law on her. Sad sad situation.”

3. Least: smallest. “She had the least feet of any woman I ever saw. They were just like children’s feet.”

4. Let on: to pretend. “Let’s let on like we didn’t get him nothing for his birthday, then we’ll send him in the back bedroom to find his present.”

5. Lamp chimney: the glass globe of a oil lamp. “I was cleaning down at Granny’s and I didn’t mean to but I broke her best lamp chimney. She said it was okay, but I still feel bad.”

All of this month’s words except lamp chimney are common in my area of Appalachia. The only person I’ve ever heard use lamp chimney was Pap.

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test!


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  • Reply
    July 1, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Have heard them all. Instead of law#1 though, we’d use the word “lord” as in “Lord I ain’t seen you ages!” And I wonder if that’s a word that changed from lord to law over time’s usage with the southern drawl.
    Prayers everyone has a great and safe holiday weekend.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I love these vocabulary post. My daughter has a friend in Germany(16 y/o) that’s coming to stay with us for a while next year. We try to tell her about our vocabulary so she’ll part way understand when she gets here. Ive heard these sayings my whole life. I’m especially glad you used law this month. It makes me think of my MawMaw, but I also heard her say in surprise l a law. I’m with the others that have heard chimly. I didn’t no any other way to say it except lamp chimly. Can’t wait for next month. Before I go has anyone ever heard it’s a(uh) coming up a cloud? We would tell my MawMaw we were fixing to go somewhere and she would say I reckin you need just to stay home it looks like it’s coming up a cloud(storm).

  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    June 30, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    The last time you asked about “law”, used widely in mountainy places, including my folks in East Tennessee, I mentioned that I had read this expletive used in Shapespeare. It is written, “La” and is used in a sort of all purpose way to draw emphasis to one’s following statement.
    I love it that this usage is so old, brought to the colonies by our forebears from the British Isles, and remained almost standard usage in our mountains. Often as you mentioned ” la” is usually preceded by an indistinct syllable sort of like “way” or “wy”, and i imagine that varies with the region of the speakers habits.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Jack-thank you for the comment! And LOL about the photo : ) Nope you didn’t miss anything I just happen to like how the picture looked. The Deer Hunter was showing me how to start a fire with a striking stick. Hope you have a great weekend!!!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    I am familar with the word usage. However, I can’t figure out how the lead photo of sharpening a knife on top of a mower is related. I must be missing something.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 30, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Heard and may have used the all at one time or another, just don’t keep count. We use lamp chimney often as we would sell oil lamps and most call for the long tall chimney… Occasionally, we have ones that is still tall but bulges a bit more in the center…
    The Lamp Globes are round and used on what some call the Gone With The Wind lamps…also these are used on the antiguw tall floor piano lamps and moveable armed desk lamps….These are usually hand painted with florals or pastoric scenes and have a matching base except the desk lamp with the moveable arm…Fenton made a boocoo of these style lamps thru the years and are still sought after today…even if you don’t have the décor for them, people seem to find a spare bedroom, etc. for one.
    I have a old gas one that was converted to electricity ….but has one little chip but is hid by the holder.
    We keep oil lamps with chimneys always as we have frequent power outages from snow and rain storms…
    Thanks Tipper,
    Law, Law…been a long day…Putting up some peaches n cream corn…Husks were very thick local corn…may need more lamps and chimneys this winter!

  • Reply
    Tracey Green
    June 30, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve regularly heard and used all of these terms except for lamp chimney–first time I’ve heard this one.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    All very familiar except ‘lamp chimney’.
    I love Ed’s ‘ ituhdabeen’! There are so many phrases I say casually that would never be written out. If asked to repeat, I wouldn’t understand why I wasn’t understood?

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    June 30, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Tipper, These words are so common with us that I never gave it a second thought that they might be particular to us. Thanks for your work I look fwd to your post every day.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I called and talked with Donna Lynn today and asked if she’d play something by Chitter and Chatter. In just a few minutes she played “Working on a Building”, by the girls and Paul. Then she played one by Ray and Pap that I was not familiar with. At the end they said “Jesus is my Choice.” I liked it too! …Ken

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 30, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I have used each and every one of these if the way referenced in today’s test. I’ll share an educational event that happened to me when I was a young Officer. I received a call that a drunk gentleman was causing a problem in the local Pool Room (the one Jim Casada speaks of in some of his articles). I walked into the Pool Room and this very inebriated gentleman was arguing with the gentleman who managed the business. I advised the inebriated gentleman that he was going to have to go with me, he asked me why he had to go with me and I advised him “because I’m the Law”. He staggered around and fixed his bleary eyes on me and advised me in his drunken slur “You’re not the Raw, you just stand for the Raw”. I remembered this explanation for the next four decades that I worked as an Officer, I wasn’t the Law, I just stood for the Law, this served me well in my interactions with everyone I dealt with as an officer. This goes to show that we can learn even from unexpected circumstances.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Way before we got electricity, I remember Daddy saying to us boys, “somebody needs to clean these globes.” And he would say “Ah, law” alot too. We always called a chimney, a chimley, I was grown before I learned different, but I still call it a chimley. …Ken

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Lamp chimney, yes indeed – I wouldn’t know what else to call it! “Let on” is common here but I’ve only heard it used as “didn’t let on” – more like “reveal” than “pretend”…”I didn’t let on that I’d already heard about it, because I knew she wanted to tell me the story herself.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 30, 2017 at 11:18 am

    If you have trouble saying ituhduhbeen, say “Canada been” then replace the “Can” with “it”.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 30, 2017 at 11:04 am

    One would think that “to lay down the law” would mean to disregard the rules but actually means the opposite.
    They law youngin when I was coming up things was way different from what they are now. When Mommy laid down the law, y she meant it. Sometimes I would let on like I wasn’t listening and make her say “Now you listen to me or I’ll call the law out here and they will take you to reform school.” Now Dodie, she was the least, got away with murder let me tell you. When she broke Mommy’s purtiest lamp chimney, y Mommy got down and and helped her clean it up. If ituhduhbeen me she wooda beat my butt, made me clean it up and then beat my butt again. The biggest and the least have it made in a family of six. I was in second place.
    A lamp globe is a lamp chimney with a rotund belly around the middle. A lamp chimney causes the air to “draw” through it like a fireplace chimney so if there is any smoke it goes up. Pap was right! I’ve heard both except in my case chimney would be chimley.
    ituhduhbeen (it-uh-duh-been) future perfect tense of the phrase “it would of been.” It’s easier to say than write it.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 30, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Heard and used them all, one time or another. Sometimes say “lawsy day” or “law me'” as no-particular meaning phrases. It continues to intrigue me how we can hear and understand words without being consciously aware until we hear something unusual for us, like an ‘outlandish’ accent.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 30, 2017 at 9:54 am

    All are familiar to me. Law I have read is also used in place of Lord in order not to use the name in vain. Several words have been used this way like gosh, golly durn for swearing. Good blog for dometime Tipper

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    June 30, 2017 at 9:35 am

    They law, if I didn’t know better I would think that we were kin because I talk just like y’all do!
    I’ve heard lamp chimney used but I know it as a globe. All the rest are very familiar to me. I’ve also heard law used in respect to suing or getting sued by someone.
    Great words today!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 9:35 am

    All the words used in the videos sound so right to me. I have several hurricane lamps with chimneys, or at least that’s what I call them. A lot of Blind Pig readers will have a sunnier day just for stopping by and reading all the way to the end of the post. I hit the play button three times. Now that song will be in my head all day.

  • Reply
    Mike Norris
    June 30, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Here’s another use of “law” (as a verb) that I heard growing up in Jackson County, Ky—from Mommy Goose: Rhymes from the Mountains:
    “Crack, crack, crack.”
    The hammer said that,
    As he hit the nail three times.
    The nail said, “Owww,”
    “You’re in trouble now.
    “I’ll law you for this crime.”

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 30, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Tipper–All of this month’s words and phrases are quite familiar to me. I would add a few thoughts.
    *In addition to the two uses of law you have it is sometimes used as a verb. “If that old rascal sets foot on my property one more time I’m going to law (sue) him.”
    *Over time I have heard “lawsy” at least as much as law when it comes to use as an expression of surprise.
    *The same holds true for “leastest” being used as much as least. “That half feist has to be the leastest hunting dog I’ve ever seen.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    June 30, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I hit them all but the first use of “law.” But, after the definition and video, I do remember my Grandma exclaiming “lawsy mercy,” on extreme occasions.
    My favorite is “let on.” That one gets used all the time.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Regarding ‘lamp chimney’ v. ‘lamp globe’. I’ve heard both used but the roles were reversed with ‘globe’ much more infrequent. In fact ‘globe’ was most often associated with lanterns and ‘chimney’ with lamps. ‘Course I’m on t’other side of the mountains from ye.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 30, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Nice sunshine after a rainy night! I’ve heard all of these but the last one, lamp chimney, I heard as lamp chimley.
    Tip, I didn’t realize just how much country vocabulary I grew up with until you started these monthly tests. It’s almost like a different language

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    June 30, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I know and use them all, even lamp chimney. I cleaned lots of lamp chimneys back in the day. My great-grandfather was a Dunkard, he held to many of the ways the Amish do. One of those was no electricity.
    Down home lots of people spell the word chimney but they say chimley or chimbley.
    I still use both versions of law. I also use least in the same way. Usually let on is used when we don’t let on, that is we are keeping a secret.
    I love the vocabulary tests!

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