Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 124

looking up a tree's leaves

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. A-back of: Behind. “I heard somebody got hurt down at the river a back of the tennis courts today.”


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2. Afeared: afraid. “I’m afeared he might not be up to the job.”

3. A-holt: a hold. “Take a-holt right there above the rope as tight as you can.”


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4. Aim to: intend to. “I aimed to weed the entire garden this week, but I ain’t got it done yet.”


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5. Alkyhol: alcohol. “Put some alkyhol on that bug bite and it’ll quit itching directly.”

I’m familiar with all of this month’s words, although I don’t hear the first three very often. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you did on the test.


bowl of vegetables

Come cook with me!

Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, June 23 – Saturday, June 29, 2019
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 1, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Haven’t heard a-back of or alkyhol, but I know all the others!

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Got ’em all!

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    I scored a 100 on this one, they are all used regularly around here.

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    May 30, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Heard all of these, sometimes my husband says scared.

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    I hear “a hold” and “a holt” as the same thing. I used “get a hold of myself” just yesterday when I was typing a blog post, and then thought – is that right, or should I just say “get hold”? I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but I always say “get a hold.” And I often say I “aim to” do something. The others, I haven’t heard but I’d know what they meant and probably wouldn’t even notice, except alkyhol – that one I’ve never heard and it would surprise me. But not anymore 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    May 30, 2019 at 10:01 am

    A jolt of is the one I use most consistantly. The others now and again

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 9:49 am

    All very familiar except afeerd only in movies where they are trying to accurately portray country folks from the south. Appalachian vocabulary tests are some of my favorite posts. I love seeing old word and expressions, and sometimes it will help me to remember somebody I had not thought of for many years.
    I like to read Blind Pig reader’s posts also, and just wanted to say I am amazed by how well Jim Casada can take our Appalachian words and deep thoughts to describe the indescribable. At a loss for words sometimes when I gaze upon our beautiful mountains, they sure do “lay a=holt of a man’s soul.”

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 8:57 am

    All the words are very familiar to me. Alkeehall may be pronounced with a slight difference in my hometown.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 30, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I too am familiar with all of today’s words but do not hear them as often as I did when I was younger. Many teachers would correct children when they used the old Appalachian words and/or expressions. I guess they felt they were catching us up with correct English but they were in fact destroying Appalachian English which I’ve read was the closest to Elizabethan English of anywhere else where English is the principle language with expressions used by Alfred,Chaucer and Shakespeare thrown in and a strong dose of Scots-Irish influence.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 30, 2019 at 8:36 am

    The firstin got me. I’ve never heard a-back. Instead I would have said in back of or out in back of. The rest I am quite familiar with. Sometimes afeard is afeart or askeered. When I was young we went so far as to call those who drank too much Alkys.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 30, 2019 at 8:34 am

    If my memory serves (since I haven’t heard them in awhile) I think we said “back of” and “holt” without the “a”. Unsure about ‘afeared’. I would understand it fine but I’m thinking I rarely heard it. Unsure about “alkyhol” to as the drinking kind was not spoken of and my Mom, the nurse, probably said the other kind as ‘alcohol’. Now ‘aim to’ is a different story. That one I know since who flung the chunk.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 30, 2019 at 7:29 am

    I’ve heard all of these but most familiar with aim to. I usually say I aimed to do that. Alkyhol I don’t hear much anymore. Did you ever hear anybody called an alky head instead of alcoholic? I haven’t heard that one for awhile.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 30, 2019 at 7:26 am

    I know most of these , although I don’t think I use them. It’s funny how you don’t think you say things and then someone says yes you do. I may use a-holt.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    May 30, 2019 at 7:19 am

    2. Afeared: afraid. “I’m afeared he might not be up to the job.”
    This elderly guy said to me, “I ain’t never seed a dog that I’m afeared of”. I did not respond but thought, You have never encountered a pit bull. Many of the older folk used seed for seen and ain’t for have not or haven’t or isn’t? Today we would say, “I’ have never seen a dog of which I am afraid.” Of course, if I said that, it would be a lie.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    May 30, 2019 at 7:02 am

    When I was a kid “d’reckly” meant in a while from now. Not immediately as we would say “I’ll be there directly” today.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 30, 2019 at 6:58 am

    I know all these, Tip. a back I’ve heard the least, the remainder are very common. Aim too is one that I use quite often. It seems that there is a lot that I aim to do that just never quite happens!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 30, 2019 at 6:47 am

    My Daddy said “alkyhol” instead of Alcohol all the time. I imagine most old folks of Appalachia said it this way. Since he was born in 1910, I guess it got passed down thru the generations. Nice post! …Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 30, 2019 at 6:43 am

    Tipper–All of those are intimately familiar and I occasionally use one of them, a-holt, when writing. In fact, just yesterday, in describing a particularly lovely piece of terrain, I suggested it could “lay a-holt of a man’s soul.”

    Jim Casada

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