Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 114


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.

A post shared by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

1. Say: to ask someone to answer a question. “Sometimes I ask what everybody wants for supper and if no one answers in the next few seconds I holler “Say?”

A post shared by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

2. Scrooch: to scoot closer together; to hug. “The girls and I used to scrooch up under a blanket on the top bunk of their bed and watch movies.”

A post shared by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

3. Settlement: community. “Pap always used the word settlement to describe the populated areas of the county. For instance: the settlement of Brasstown or the settlement of Grape Creek.”

4. Shagnasty: unkempt disorderly disagreeable person. “He ain’t nothing but an ole shagnasty! I’ve been scared of him since I was just a slip of a girl.”

A post shared by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on

5. Shank’s mare: to walk. “I think people were healthier when they had to travel about by shank’s mare.”

All of this month’s words are extremely familiar to me except shagnasty-I have never heard anyone use the word, but my isn’t it a good one!

The first word, say, is a funny one to me. I’ve used it my entire life and heard everyone around me use it as well. A few years back a friend who grew up farther south was talking to me about the Appalachian language. Her father grew up in West Virginia. She said “You know something really funny that my daddy says? He says “say” when he asks you a question and you don’t answer him quick enough.” I said “And you think that’s weird?” She laughed and said yes she thought it was weird and had never heard anyone else use the word in that manner.

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


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  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 27, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    I never heard of the word “shagnasty”. My 4th oldest brother use to say when someone asked him a question, “What the h… do you think I am Anyhow?” That was Buster, and I never understood what he meant. He musta picked that up at school. …Ken

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 27, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    I’m five for five,I’ve heard and used all of today’s vocabulary words. Needmore must not be far from Brasstown.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Isn’t it funny how the words we use don’t sound in any way odd to us? And, when we go somewhere else, people make comments about how odd we sound. To us, THEY are the odd-sounding ones!! LOL! Thanks for sharing this ~ you always make me smile. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 11:35 am

    I use “scooch” the way you use “scrooch” but I’d get the meaning either way. And Shank’s mare is an oldie but goodie. The others, nope! I’m surprised “settlement” didn’t stick in New England vocabulary.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    July 27, 2018 at 10:39 am

    All are familiar to me. How about riding two white calves? That was my Paper’s favorite.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 10:38 am

    “Shagnasty” I’ve heard but not used. Although I’ve known a few shaggy, nasty folk, I associated the term with shag carpets which were so horrible to keep clean.
    “Shank mare” is a new one to me. What is it’s origin?
    “Say” we use at the beginning as a way of getting folks attention before you make your statement or, more likely, ask a question. We also use “say what” as a response to a statement we find incredulous, astonishing, or curious.
    “Settlement” and “scrooch” (often times, “scooch”) are commonplace although “settlement” usually has historic meaning, as in “The old Prairie View settlement has all but disappeared.”

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 10:34 am

    The only one I am familiar with is “Scrooch” and I probably still use it. If I asked a question and didn’t get a response right away, my response would be “Well.”

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 27, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Never heard “shagnasty” but it sure is a good one!

  • Reply
    Sherri Bennett
    July 27, 2018 at 10:20 am


  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    July 27, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Shagnasty is the only one that is not familiar to me. Like Jim, I usually hear “say what” rather than just “say.” By the way, I love hearing the words pronounced by your family and friends. Reading the Blind Pig every morning is a delight to me. Keep up the great work!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 9:56 am

    1. “Whatcha want for supper” “Better say! If ye don’t say nothing, yer gettin nothin!”
    2. You scoot if it’s just you. If there’s two it’s scooch “I’m cold can I scooch to you?” More that two is scrooch.
    3. Settlement was pronounced almost as two words settle mint.
    4. Daddy had a huge vocabulary. One of the words he called me was shagnasty along with nincompoop, ignoramus and goon to name a few. I wonder what he was trying to tell me. When I was little little Daddy called me ebbyham. I don’t know where that came from.
    5. I learned Shank’s Mare on one of your earlier posts. When I was young we didn’t have a vehicle so there was no distinction in modes of locomotion. If we went anywhere, it was on foot. We said “hoofing it” if we were in a hurry.

    PS: Little little is not a typo. Little little is smaller than little and bigger than teeny tiny.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 27, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Wow scr
    Scrooch and settlement are the only two I know scrooch is used a lot and settlement not at all, but the old folks used it s lot

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 27, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I know all but “Say.” But scrooch is the only one that I use often.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Heard them all except shagnasty. I don’t say scrooch, but I think Mom did. I’m sure I have said ‘say’ as a command within the past week. My grand kids tune out the world when they are on their phone, causing me to stand close, fling my arms and yell ‘SAY’ when they don’t answer me the first or second time.

  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    July 27, 2018 at 9:17 am

    “Talk about” He’s gone now don’t “talk about him. Gossip. You “Long necked thing” Sit there & Grudge. You “Puck Eyed” thing. You “George Howell Lookin Thing.” I’ll be there “Directly.” “Get your mind above your Belt” . You “Blackguard.” That there’s a “Sooner” Dog. Sooner eat waste than look at it. I’m “Proud” of that new hat of yourn. WishI had two; one to S— in & one to cover it up with. Wood Hicks sometimes were downright vulgar in their expressions; especially when joking & teasing. All for now I’m Plum Tuckered Out.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 8:58 am

    My father used the word shagnasty, but itseems that word has disappeared from common usage around my parts.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 27, 2018 at 8:53 am

    I’d not heard shagnasty, but it’s fine-sounding, or maybe I should say not so fine-sounding word. Hard to believe this is the 114th edition of the vocabulary test!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I’ve heard them all excepting shagnasty, I can’t get behind that one. I grew up in Missouri & my mama would always use “Say!’ w/ a daggerish stare if we were too slow about answering up prompt when we were being interrogated for a wrongdoing. “Say” was never used for anything fun or lighthearted, lol.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 27, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Shagmasty, I’ve heard the least.
    My wife says scooch for scrooch.

    I had to run say through my mind many times to figure out what I say. I use well say.

    Shank’s mare was common in my family.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 27, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I’ll say 4 of 5. I don’t recall “say” used as a question. A little unsure about ‘settlement’ but think I heard it as a kid. (By the way, there is a “Park Settlement” near the Smokies, northeast of Townsend, but I can’t find any history on it.) I think we said “scootch” with no ‘r’ though. Shagnasty I heard only occasionally. Shank’s mare was really common, the most reliable form of transportation and also the most independent!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 8:07 am

    ‘Say’ and “Shanks Mare” are totally familiar to me but “Scrooch”?????? Tipper!!!!!! In my world it is definitely “SCOOTCH”!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 27, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Tipper–All the words/phrases are familiar to me and I use all of them. However, I know two in a slightly different context. Rather than just “say?” it’s normally “say what?” (memorably used in an unforgettable college classroom scene in one of Ferrol Sams’ wonderful books, by the way). Similarly, I’ve always heard shagnasty used as an adjective rather than a noun. For example: “Tthat woman is shagnasty ugly. Just seeing her would make a Greyhound bus take a dirt road.”
    Jim Casada

    • Reply
      Wanda Devers
      July 27, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Aren’t the Ferrol Sams books the best? Now I have to reread since I can’t remember the “say what?” episode.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    July 27, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Haven’t heard the word “shagnasty” since I was a kid..a long time ago….kinda like “pug-ugly”!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 27, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Tip, I know all these words very well. I am particularly fond of shagnasty I think because it it such a descriptive expression combining two word, shaggy and nasty, that are both good solid words when combined exaggerate both words….at least that’s my take on it.
    Settlement, I’ve heard less that the others but still enough to have a good grasp of the word.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 5:43 am

    I had not heard that word shagnasty since I was quite young. I seem to recall it was used almost like an affectionate term by our Dad when he would say, “C’mon Shagnasty” when we poked around getting into car. We sometimes have to “scrooch up” on the church pew when more than usual of the family shows up. It seems I have heard scrunch up also, but that may be when one person scrunches up. Say has never been used in my memory. Shanks mare not familiar in my area, but I have heard them say when forced to walk, “I guess we will have to foot it.”
    Also I thought of this expression after our family reunion and wondered if it was Appalachian in origin. Family is always more comfortable with teasing and other shenanigans with each other. I have a cousin who specializes in “getting my goat.” It is another way of expressing “getting under my skin.” Instead of getting irritated, I realize this is just a minor drawback in a large extended family. It is the give and take one learns with cousins that are as close as brothers and sisters.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2018 at 5:24 am

    Shagnasty and Shank’s mare are the two I’m not familiar with, when we had to walked we’d hoof it.

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