Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 146

Appalachian vocabulary test do you know these words

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.

1. Painter: panther; mountain lion. “A couple Christmases ago Chitter thought she heard a painter out behind the house.”

2. Pallet: a bed made on the floor from blankets and pillows. “The girls used to love to sleep on a pallet in the living room floor. I’d sleep on the couch and they thought we were having a slumber party.”

3. Passel: a large number of people, animals, or things. “Don’t know what was going on down the road but there was a whole passel of kids on bicycles.”

4. Peaked: sickly looking. “I was worried about her this morning she was plumb peaked when I stop by to see her.”

5. Peartening juice: moonshine. “He said if he had some peartening juice he might be able to get up and move around some.”

So how did you do on this month’s test? All of the words, except peartening juice are beyond common in my area of Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Ed Gambill
    April 21, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    First off I thoroughly enjoy listening to your videos. I first saw your method for making cornbread, which happened to be for the most part the way my mother taught me.
    Having worked as a disc jockey in country radio, and doing voice over work, I had to learn to swap between my Wilkes County dialect and middle America dialect. I ,like you, am keen on accents. Your description of first hearing the Eastern North Carolina “Hoy Tide”, accent is an example of how the coast and the mountains of North Carolina have retained much of the English language our ancestors first brought to the old North State. Lastly while working in Rockingham County North Carolina at a small country store my country roots were challenged and I was asked to define the word, Gomm [I do hope I spelled it right] to me it was always a dollop of grandma’s homemade butter on a plate with molasses, honey jam or jelly mashed with a fork and slathered on a cat head biscuit. I passed the test

  • Reply
    Gerald Brinson
    April 19, 2021 at 8:13 am

    You used the word “plumb” to modify “peaked”. I’ve heard and used “plumb” commonly my entire life here in Southern Kentucky. “He was plumb tuckered out”, talking about someone who was absolutely out of energy.
    I love your website and your YouTube videos. They bring back a ton of memories, and make me even more proud of my heritage of good, honest, hard-working people.

    • Reply
      April 19, 2021 at 9:03 am

      Gerald-thank you!

  • Reply
    Jon Sheldon
    April 16, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve heard and used these my entire life. I am from Northeast Alabama in the foothills of the Appalachians. Most of the families here descend from Scotch-Irish settlers who came through North Calina (spelled that way for a REASON!) and eventually made their generational homes here. I love your blog as well as the wealth of knowledge, humor, and nostalgia on your YouTube channel. I love to study accents and regional dialects and vernaculars. One saying I’ve heard all of my life and have yet to find the origin of is “Pickin peas in Egypt”. Have you heard this? It is used mostly when adults are telling a story or even when a child looks at a photograph. They will always ask “Where was I?”. I tell my daughter when she looks at our wedding pictures and she says ” Daddy there’s you and there’s Mommy, but where was I?” . I always tell her just like I was told, “You were in Egypt pickin peas!”. Alternatively “In Egypt pickin blackberries”. I absolutely love southern and appalachian english and am curious if you or any other readers are familiar with this.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    I have slept on a many a pallet on the floor, and listened to ghost stories from older cousins until the wee hours. We had a whole passel of children in our extended family. Mom always thought we looked peaked when we were sick. Kate Swanson’s pied skin is familiar. I even have my Sis noticing her Appalachian words and expressions. She could not remember somebody’s name at the dentist office and referred to him as “what’s his name.” I had not heard that in years, and told her I bet Tipper had heard that. Moonshine just always called “shine.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 31, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    I thought at first that I had never heard of peartening juice but after some further consideration maybe I have. If you had spelled it pertenin /pert-en-in/, like in to make you pert, it would made sense to me. I have heard it that way. The rest of the words are part of my daily usage.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    March 31, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    All but peartening juice.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    My grandparents used peaked, and I’ve used passel and pallet but never heard your word for whisky. Have heard it called white lightening or moonshine. And I heard stories about painters and that they sounded like a woman screaming. I’ve also read about them described that way in old pioneer books of local areas in the south.

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    March 31, 2021 at 11:32 am

    To Don’s comment regarding his Grandpa’s use of “peart”… I used to hear it a lot, but also in a different context. Like when someone might as a farmer whether he’s about finished using that double shovel to plow through that stony ground. He might reply, “Peart ner’t”

  • Reply
    March 31, 2021 at 11:25 am

    I’ve never heard painter or peartening juice. All the others I have heard and used.

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    March 31, 2021 at 10:54 am

    For #5 we’d just call it “shine” and they often hauled it around in “white pigs” or milk jugs I suppose it was cheaper that way, as Momma’s canning jars didn’t get broken. Moonshine also assumed different names, according to what people mixed with it. I remember them using Shasta cola, 7-Up and other things

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    March 31, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Love them all…. But never heard of your word for moonshine. Do you use the word ….pied….pronounced pi…did….? I have pied skin….pale and blotchy…. It is normal among our Va. coalfield blood lines.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2021 at 9:05 am

    All the words are common in my family except peartening juice. I’ve heard moonshine called all kind of names but that one never made it up to the hills and hollers of eastern KY, a place that was surely the White Lightning capital of the world.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 31, 2021 at 8:30 am

    Four of five. Never heard moonshine called ‘peartening juice’ but seeing as how we seem to like inventing words and expressions I reckon somebody just made that one up one time.

    I heard stories of the painters. I was told they sounded just like a woman screaming. I’m thinking maybe they were a lot more fearsome than bears or snakes because they would follow a person and you just couldn’t be sure what they might do.

    Pallets on the floor was the answer to more people than beds. As Opie said, that was “adventute sleeping” to a kid. Me and my brother would sleep in the barn loft. That was adventure sleeping to.

    I’m trying to remember which things usually came in passels. Kids was one. Dogs were another. Troubles were sometimes if they weren’t ‘a heap’. Sometimes the indefinite ‘passel’ would be quantified as a ‘peck’ or a ‘bushel’, just depending.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2021 at 8:20 am

    I have heard and used the first three.

    Last week I asked for the ones on the blog to pray for my wife and our family during her upcoming triple bypass heart surgery. We met with the doctor yesterday and the surgery is scheduled to be done on April 9. Our family is very close and she’s the glue that keeps us close. We are very scared and worried.

    • Reply
      March 31, 2021 at 9:09 am

      Randy-I’ll be praying for you wife!!

    • Reply
      Sue McIntyre
      March 31, 2021 at 9:32 pm

      I will be praying for you and you wife and all that have a part in her care. Prayer can reach places we can’t.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 31, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Never heard of peartening juice but all the remaining are more than common to me. I’ve always thought peaked was a very descriptive word pronounced peak-ed!

    • Reply
      Don Lucas
      March 31, 2021 at 9:59 am

      Please help with pronunciation of peartning…Grandpa Lucas would say “,towble peart,” when asked how are you feeling today Mr. Lucas , when out and about…..Been puzzled about that for almost seventy years….Don Lucas……

      • Reply
        March 31, 2021 at 11:14 am

        Don-if you click on the video above peartening you can hear Chatter say it 🙂 Like pert-en-ing.

      • Reply
        April 1, 2021 at 1:04 am

        Don, your Gtandpa might have meant “tolerable pert”.

  • Reply
    Sheryl O Paul
    March 31, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Peartening juice is new to me. The rest I use all the time

  • Reply
    Dan O’Connor
    March 31, 2021 at 7:34 am

    I am very familiar with the first four, but never heard the fifth. I grew up in Northern Virginia and we used peaked regularly. I never heard the first three until coming to Knoxville.

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    March 31, 2021 at 7:33 am

    I knew peaked, passel and pallet – had no idea they were regional words!!!!

  • Reply
    Joe Chumlea
    March 31, 2021 at 6:48 am

    Never heard of “peartening” juice. Have you ever heard the moonshine called “splo” ?

    • Reply
      March 31, 2021 at 7:53 am

      Joe-I have never heard that usage 🙂

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    March 31, 2021 at 6:37 am

    I have never heard NO. 3 used without the modifier “whole” as in the way it was used here, whole passel. Of all the names for moonshine, I have never heard No. 5 until just now.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    March 31, 2021 at 6:36 am

    I use them all except the one for moonshine. I’ve never heard that one before.

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