Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 119


Granny and Chatter

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.


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1. Thrush doctor: person who can blow in a baby’s mouth and cure thrush. “Poor little thing has the thrush. I told them they ought to take the baby up to Auntie’s house. Everyone knows Thurman has the power to cure thrush.”

2. Toll the bell: in the old days when someone died the church bell was rung for each year of their life. “I imagine the tolling of the bell had to be one of the most lonesome sounds for folks back in the day when the tradition was practiced.”


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3. Torge: towards. “When the girls and I were trying to do this video I realized I can’t say towards. I can only get torge to come out of my mouth when I try.”

4. Take after: to inherit qualities from family member. “Although most folks think the girls look just alike, I’ve always thought Chitter took after the Wilsons and Chatter took after the Pressleys more specifically Miss Cindy.”


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5. Talk hard: speak harshly. “I’ve never been good at talking hard to someone, but that girl needs a good talking to cause she’s about to mess up a good thing and is too young to know it.”

So how did you do? All of this month’s words/phrases are common around here except tolling of the bell. Neither of the girls knew what that one meant.


*Ruling day 3: Low 33 High 55 Rain Wind

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  • Reply
    January 15, 2019 at 9:31 am

    I never knew of a thrush doctor in our family, but my mother had an uncle who she claimed could “stop blood.” When Mom was a little girl (in the 1920s) she had her tonsils out. The doctor did this at their home, and Uncle Joe was in the other room. Mom said she only bled “one mouthful” of blood and Uncle Joe told her she wouldn’t have bled at all except he forgot her middle name for a moment. She said all the nieces and nephews tried to get him to reveal his secret, but he never would.

    In the 1940s, Uncle Joe sadly took his own life with a shotgun According to my mother, there was almost no blood at the scene.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    December 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Tipper. My mother was the seventh child of her family . The seventh child could cure thrush it was breaking out in the babies mouth. Mother would hold the baby and talk to the child and put her finger on the lip of the child it would smile at her and then she would gently blow in the child mouth. I was very small but I was watching her gentleness and how the child would let her blow into his or her mouth. One family had a baby seemed like ever nine months and bring her the new baby to cure the thrush . there seemed to be a gentleness of Devine miracle about how my Miss Julie did this. Miss Julie reared us by Gods word and she lived the instruction espectly Spare the rod and spoil the child. I not telling a tale somedays I got the rod pretty often , but I rise up and call her blessed

  • Reply
    Yvette Ridenour
    December 29, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    My Granny always said that a person who was born after his father’s death had the power to cure thrush. When I was a baby, I had thrush, and she had some cousin of hers who was born after his father had died, blow in my mouth…and the thrush was cured! Amazing.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 28, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    And another one by the same folks. I listen to Pap and Granny sing it, not every day but every time I get in my truck.

  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    I’ve heard of thrush, and I’ve heard and used “takes after” all my life. I feel some of these words and expressions are used throughout the South. That is the sweetest picture of Granny and Chatter. I just think it’s wonderful to be an adult and still have your Granny. I never knew my Daddy’s mama because she died when he was in his late teens, and my mama’s mother died when I was 13. We called her Nanny.

  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    For myself and other family members “toward(s)” usually comes out “tord”, eliding the ‘wa’. “Torge” works. I like it.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    December 28, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I never realized what tolling the bell meant although I’ve heard the expression used many times incorrectly. I keep coming up with toll the bell for me, but can’t put it all together. I say tword, tward for toward.

    Thrush Doctors used to be fairly common, but I don’t know of any now.

  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 11:36 am

    All were familiar to me except thrush doctor. My dad could stop an earache by blowing in the ear. I wouldn’t call him a doctor as he only completed 5th grade.

    • Reply
      January 15, 2019 at 9:33 am

      Jackie, my mother also blew in my ears when I had an earache as a child, but she would first take a puff of a cigarette and blow the smoke into my ear for the cure.

  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I have heard most of them but I’m not sure about the bells ringing upon death, although I did hear of flowers on the door signifying death in the family.

    I do know one time after my parents had retired and moved back down south, I took flower wreaths to decorate the doors to their new home. A friend dropped by to visit and asked who died in the family. Inquiring as to his question, I found out that in my grandparents growing up years flowers on the doors or by them meant someone had passed in the family. I had never heard of that before. It makes more sense when I remember that my great grandfather was laid out in his casket in his front room where family and friends gathered and some sat up all night before he was taken to the family pioneer cemetery for burial.

  • Reply
    Brian P.T. Blake
    December 28, 2018 at 10:16 am

    This recalls the saying, “Send not to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

    • Reply
      Sara Anglin
      December 31, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      No man is an Island, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. John Donne

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 28, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Some of Tipper’s readers will have heard the story of Nance Dude – or Nancy Ann Kerley, who spent years in prison for killing her granddaughter. This occurred in the early 19-teens. Her son, William, lived on Conleys Creek and was a thrush doctor according to first hand reports.

    Shortly after Daddy died, I spent a day over in Cataloochee Valley, went by the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church and rang the bell 101 times. It was a winter weekday, and I didn’t see a soul on Little Cataloochee that day, so likely no one even heard it. But I felt better for having done it, and wondered if that bell had ever been rung that many times.

  • Reply
    Sallie S (Apple Doll Lady)
    December 28, 2018 at 9:50 am

    I’m familiar with all of these although I’ve never heard these specific bells. My grandmother (1880-1983) told of one of her babies almost dying with thrush because he was unable to nurse. I don’t remember who she said but someone collected sheep manure and made a tea she called “sheep pill tea” which she claimed saved his life. That seems pretty desperate methods by today’s standards.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 28, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Two and a half; numbers 1, 3 and 4 except I’m uncertain about “twarge”. We had a different sound but I can’t recall enough to try to spell. I am very familiar with “take after” and I recall a family story of my Grandma taking two of the kids to a thrush doctor.

    I wondered the other day if “swag” is in the DSME. Where I’m from ‘swag’ means in general ‘a low place’ in the terrain. But that definition does not show up in a modern dictionary.

  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 9:15 am

    The word thrush has come out of my mouth a hundred times lately. That’s because thrush has been IN my mouth. I always though babies and children got thrush until the doctor said all those blisters on my tongue was thrush. It was caused from taking 1300 mg of anti-biotics daily for several weeks after a brown recluse spider bite.
    I have read about the tolling bell, but thankful I never heard it ring.
    Torge sounds right to me. Like you, Tipper, I can’t seem to get toward to come out of my mouth.
    Take after was something we talked about during our family get-together at Christmas as we discussed a membership to someone received. I asked how my daughter took her personality after her dad’s family when she’s never really spent any time around them since she was young.
    I’ve never heard talk hard used that way, but it makes sense.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    December 28, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I remember my little sister getting thrush several times. I can imagine how painful it was as her throat was raw.

    Tolling of the bells immediately brought the song “Little Jimmy Brown” to mind. I guess it shows my age. I suspect that bells were used to pas information through a community or at least alert them that something was going on. On my first visit to Germany, the village bell was rung at 6:00am to wake everyone up for the start of the day so no one overslept. This was in 1992!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 28, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I’ve heard all of these even know of the tolling of the bell when someone passes.
    I never had any contact with a thrush doctor but I have heard of it.

  • Reply
    Mark Selby
    December 28, 2018 at 7:35 am

    I tolled the church bell for my Mama when she died a couple of years ago. There’s a special rope used to pull the lever that tolls. The bell does not swing when it’s tolled, but instead is stationary, while the lever strikes against the inside of the bell.
    Thanks, and Happy 4th Day of Christmas.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 28, 2018 at 7:28 am

    I remember getting talked hard to. Thrush I have heard of but don’t remember what it is.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    December 28, 2018 at 6:56 am

    I think I deleted my comment! I have used the word “torge”! ANd I remember hearing about “thrush” but can’t remember what it was.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    December 28, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Yep. I have said “torge”. I remember hearing about “thrush” but can’ remember what it was.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    December 28, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Interesting words, thrush still very much used
    I never realizrd the bells tolled for each year of life, tward is how I say it, take after common around here, a good hard talking to was something I dreaded as a child

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