Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 106

southern sayings

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

1. Nary: not one. “I bout broke my neck trying to carry it all outside. The house was full and not nary one offered to help!”

2. Natural born: having an inborn trait. “I’m telling you he was a natural born musician. Why he could play anything you handed him.”

3. New ground: an area newly cleared for growing a garden. “I’ve run out of places to make new ground around my house. I guess that’s what you get for living on the side of a mountain.”

4. Nowheres: nowhere. “I can’t find it anywhere! I’ve looked everywhere and it ain’t nowheres to be seen.”

5. Nubbin: an immature or small ear of corn. “This summer Granny planted corn in every spot she could in the yard and garden. None of it made more than nubbins.”

All of this month’s words are beyond common in my area of Appalachia. What about where you live?


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  • Reply
    November 29, 2017 at 11:52 am

    After a very busy Thanksgiving holiday, finally getting back to my “eavesdropping” on Appalachia. – or maybe Appalachia is eavesdropping on the central southwest. These phrases are common from the tip o’ Texas up through Kansas and probably beyond. “We” have a lot in common.

  • Reply
    larry griffith
    November 26, 2017 at 6:52 am

    hello my name is Wyatt

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    November 25, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve heard all of them, and used most.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    November 24, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Yes, I know and use everyone of these. I can still hear Daddy calling the little ears of corn at our kitchen table, ‘nubbins.’

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 24, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Got them all today. So nice to be reminded of common talk and the people who use it.
    Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, was a small man and slight of figure as well. When Lincoln met with the Confederate peace delegation late in the war, it was cold weather. Stephens had on a long, bulky coat. When he took it off, Lincoln asked another member of his group, “Did you ever see such a little nubbin come out of such a great big shuck?”
    To me, saying ‘nary one’ or ‘nary a one’ is to emphasize the lack of interest or action. It has an unspoken meaning of “can you believe it” in addition to the fact of it.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 24, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    I didn’t miss nary a one!
    Thanks for this post..
    PS…Oh by the way…Shirl brought back memories of my Grandmother with the word “airy”…I use it too when I get the chance…don’t hear it near as often as I used to!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 24, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    My Daddy weren’t no liar! Mommy wudden neither! Nobody in my family has been liars. I don’t know where I got it from.

  • Reply
    Brynne Crowe
    November 24, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    I heard all these when I was younger — except new ground. If I heard that it was about a new experience. And I’ve always heard “nary a one” rather than “nary one. I still say “broke my neck” when I’m hurrying – “broke my neck to get there.”

  • Reply
    November 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    All these words are familiar to me too. I especially liked the “natural born” joke told on the second video. Is that Steve’s wife?
    Last night about 7 pm, a new truck pulled into my yard. A young lady got out and carried a turkey dinner up on the porch where I was standing. I could see she had her family and husband, Shannon with her and they were on their way to Wal-marts. She said “my Papa wanted you to have this, knowing your girls lived far away.” I thanked her, and waved at the girls in the back seat. What a nice Surprise! …Ken

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    November 24, 2017 at 11:38 am

    all of to days words are familiar to me !!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Quinn-thank you for the comment! And I don’t mind the question : ) Its a store bought vest. I picked it up in a thrift store several years ago. Its one of my favorite things to wear for exactly the reason you said-its warm but not too hot on days when the temperature rises as the day goes by! I’ve never grown the popcorn but now you’ve made me want to give it a try : )

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 24, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I don’t think I’ve heard nary a one cep maybe nubbin. Can’t believe I’m a natural born Appalachian boy from out next to nowheres and don’t know nary one but one.
    First time I seen Green Giant Frozen Nibblers I said to my self “Lookie there, they are so penny pinching they are freezin the nubbins.”
    Axlee I knowed new ground too but its only one word where I come from. I have known patches to be called the Newground from the time they were cleared off until they growed back up.
    If I don’t start spellin my words like spell check wants em, Its gonna run out of red ink.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 24, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I made another “hunerd” on this test. I can’t think of nary a time I haven’t got some or all of the words or phrases.
    If I didn’t know better Tipper I’d say we “growed” up in the same neck of the woods. I love my daily dose of the BP!

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    November 24, 2017 at 10:48 am

    These are just regular talk. Are you sure they are appalachian? I think our talk is spreading.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2017 at 10:28 am

    New ground and nary a one are familiar. And when I grew popcorn the ears looked like nubbins but I dried them anyway and popped those kernels months later – planning to plant more in 2018 if fate allows. Have you tried it? Got my seed from Sow True Seed 🙂
    I do enjoy these videos – the one about the natural born liar made me laugh! Now, Tipper, I need to know…did you knit that vest/sleeveless sweater you are wearing? It looks so cozy without being too warm the way a sweater sometimes is. I hope you don’t mind these questions about the garments lately – I’ve got knitting on the brain as I feel Winter approaching.

  • Reply
    Julie Moreno
    November 24, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Grew up with all of these. Still use some of them!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2017 at 9:16 am

    All the words are familiar to me and I still use them without thinking a thing about it. Nary is my most used word of the list. I say airy, also. Did The Deerhunter get airy deer this season?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 24, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Except for plowing new ground I still use all the rest. Green Giant used to have nubbins written on their cans. Maybe still there.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2017 at 9:04 am

    We always say “nary a one” rather than just “nary one”.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    November 24, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Tipper , All these wirds are common in my vocabulary. I smiled when I read Jim’s mention of “plowing new ground” insofar as a new endeavor which Is common to me. Appreciate all your work. My first read of the mornings. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    November 24, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Grew up hearing these and still use them. My kids learned “nubbin” this summer shucking corn on the front porch. I’m looking forward to my own talk as we head to the home place in a few hours. A weekend in the hills is just what I need.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 24, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Have used all of them and a few I still do.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 24, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Tipper–They are all quite familiar, and in a couple of cases my personal usage or familiarity with their usage goes beyond the definitions you offer.
    For example, “plowing new ground” is often used metaphorically to describe something involving an untried process or virgin territory. You plow new ground in your blog on a regular basis, and paradoxically some of the new ground you plow involves reviving old customs or traditions.
    Similarly, nubbin is sometimes used to describe small size. “He was just a nubbin of a boy but already doing a man’s work.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 24, 2017 at 7:34 am

    I know all these, Tip. These expressions are just part of life!

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