Appalachian Dialect Blog

Blind Pig Readers Documented

Book cover

I’m still enthralled with the “Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English.” I’ve so enjoyed getting to know the ins and outs of the book. I’ve spent so many years with the first edition, “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English,” that I know it like the back of my hand.

As I peruse the “Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English” I keep an eagle eye out for references to Blind Pig and The Acorn. I’m still over the moon about my work being used to document the language of Appalachia.

But it’s not just my writing’s that are used, it’s your’s too.

Here’s a great example.

snake doctor (also snake feeder, snake fly, snake master, snake skeeter, snake waiter) noun A dragonfly.

The documentation for snake doctor is fairly long. It starts in 1929 and goes all the way to 2015 where it ends with a post I wrote in May of that year about the unusual name for a dragonfly.

Five comments left by readers on the post are shared as documentation for the usage. The dictionary doesn’t list the commenter’s names but it was easy for me to go back and find them.

  • AW Griff: I grew up in E.KY. and always called them snake feeders. As a boy I thought they actually fed snakes.
  • Lora Pauley Ward: I grew up in Southern West Virginia and always heard them called snake doctors. I had heard of dragonflies, mostly in books, but was an adult before I realized they were the same thing.
  • David Templeton: I don’t think anyone in the East Tennessee I knew ever heard of dragon flies but everyone knew snake feeders. That’s all I ever call them.
  • Allison Britt: While growing up in the Northwestern part of N.C. I always heard dragonflies called snake feeders.
  • Bob Aufdemberge: The snake doctor term was used only for the smaller dragonflies that had the slender body. The larger ones with the thicker bodies were just called dragonflies.

I’ve always been beyond grateful for the comments readers leave me—they literally enrich the very life I live and often teach me something new. The dictionary is proof comments from Blind Pig readers are an integral part of my work of preserving and celebrating Appalachia.


Last night’s video: An Acre for the Lord – Talking with Clay Logan about his life in Appalachia.

Tipper

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Susie G
    March 24, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Tipper. As a new reader, I have spent hours over the last few days reading your blog and have even dreamed at night about some of the childhood memories and language it has brought to mind. I grew up in Clemson but my mother and Grandma Bean brought a lot of Appalachian culture to our lives as they had lived in rural Northern Alabama and Tennessee. My father was more of a city boy from Greenville SC. So much of the language is familiar, but I also find it interesting looking at some of my blended family’s adaptations. For example, we always called dragonflies, dragonflies, but we definitely had our version of snake doctor. That title was reserved for a damselfly with the large black wings folded above his back rather than out to the side like the dragonfly. As children, we were convinced that this one bug was truly the doctor, delivering medicinal care to sick and injured snakes. We would catch dragonflies but would never catch a snake doctor as he may be headed to a “call” and had an important job to do. I live in Charleston SC now and I’ve heard locals here call dragonflies bog dancers. After a wet spell, I can go to the beach here and the sky will be dark with just hundreds of dragonflies eating the newly hatched mosquitos. Thank-you for the good work you do and the joy you bring to so many.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    February 10, 2022 at 5:41 am

    We called them “snake feeders”

  • Reply
    Joan Owen
    February 9, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    My Dad always told me a Dragonfly ate Mosquitos in Oklahoma and my Mama was from Tennessee and she said her Pappy told her the same story and I’d never heard any of the ones you and your readers printed,so so interesting to read about,Tipper keep it up.

  • Reply
    Randy
    February 9, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    This has nothing to do with the book but with the snake doctors. I have lived all my life right where I live now. The creek on my property would be covered in snake doctors when I was a kid. Now you do not see any. This is in one of the most rural areas of Greenville County, SC. The creek or land around it has changed very little from the way it was back then.

  • Reply
    Christine
    February 9, 2022 at 2:06 pm

    Congratulations on being in the book!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 9, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    My name is in The Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English too. Right on the first page at the top.
    I wrote it in there! I also wrote what I had to pay for it, so when I die my kids won’t sell it at a yard sale for 50 cents.

  • Reply
    Lily M Stafford
    February 9, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    You are appreciated!!!!!! WE called dragon flies” skeeter hawks”

  • Reply
    Robin
    February 9, 2022 at 11:28 am

    What a lovely confirmation of the contributions you make to truly celebrating Appalachia Tipper. You have provided the conduit for others to make contributions as well. What a wonderful legacy for you Tipper.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    February 9, 2022 at 10:49 am

    I have learned so many new words because of you! Thank you for sharing the Appalachian language with us. Take care and God bless

  • Reply
    Tammye R.
    February 9, 2022 at 10:42 am

    I was just reading a little piece from a book I bet you’ve read or you would really like, Mattie’s Girl by Celia Miles. I’m going to get it just reading those couple of pages makes me have to hear the rest. There a line that reminded me of your walk through the snow an while back when you showed us the rhododendron leaves curled up tight against the cold, she writes “Aunt Maddie was curled up tight as a rhododendron leaf in freezing weather”. I wouldn’t have got that if not for your walk in the snow. If I can get it I’d be glad to send it to you when I’m done if you haven’t read it already.

    • Reply
      Tipper
      February 9, 2022 at 11:11 am

      Tammye- thank you for the kind offer. I have the book and just love it.

  • Reply
    AWGRIFF
    February 9, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Congratulations Tipper, I’m really tickled for you and glad more of our language will be saved!!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 9, 2022 at 9:53 am

    Congrstulations Tipper, what an honor! The post about the snakedoctor must be one I missed, so interesting as I’ve never heard any of those namrs before

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    February 9, 2022 at 9:52 am

    Exactly what I have said over and over. I believe in time you will be among the great ones who have studied and documented all that is unique about Appalachia. I look forward to the time when I can click documentaries on some of my tv channels and read about the great contribution Tipper Pressley has made to the people of Appalachia. Fortunately for all of us you describe it in such a way that we can be proud of those differences. Instead of the unfavorable portrayal, we learn how much these people accomplished and even learn the history of why our people may be different. I can now understand more why my dear aunt would say, “I swan” or why my grandma hunted wild lettuce. She called it “rock lettuce.” Their habits and expressions are handed down through the generations! Thank you for all you do.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 9, 2022 at 8:05 am

    I’m glad you are ‘over the moon and we helped put you there! I am also tickled that BP&A helped the DSAE be right up to date. I expect the folks who put it together were also especially with the influence of the electronic age eroding the language.

    You have given me a perspective I sorta had from.my travels around Appalachia. But you deepened and broadened it and have helped me understand even more why I have always felt at home anywhere in Appalachia I happened to be. We are not the same everywhere within Appalachia but we are near enough the same we ‘fit in’. It’s hard to explain exactly. The saying I grew up with was, “like putting on my old coat”. I would say it as “puttin’ on my old faded jeans”, just feels right. Reminds me to of the saying, “takes one to know one”.

  • Reply
    Mint2Bee
    February 9, 2022 at 7:48 am

    Congratulations on being in the book. I know you have put in a LOT of hours researching Appalachian English. I’ve never heard of a dragonfly called by those names.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    February 9, 2022 at 7:36 am

    Tipper, your work is deeply appreciated.

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    February 9, 2022 at 6:50 am

    Loved the interview with Mr. Clay Logan ❤

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 9, 2022 at 6:37 am

    WOW! That is outstanding! You’re in the new book and WE are in the new book! Tip, I am so proud of you, and I am so happy you are getting this recognition! You’ve worked very hard for Appalachia!
    Congratulations!

  • Reply
    donna sue
    February 9, 2022 at 6:15 am

    P.s. – and I need to add Blind Pig and the Acorn to my sentence about Celebrating Appalachia in my last comment. To me, they are the same. The you tube channel is an extension of the blog. They go hand in hand. The blog birthed the you tube channel. Does that make sense? Celebrating Appalachia is the blog in visual movement, just like the Blind Pig and the Acorn you tube channel is the collection of music from the whole family. Each one is separate, yet very intricately woven with the others. Tipper, I am so glad that I have had the wonderful pleasure of hanging around the Blind Pig and the Acorn since it’s start. I feel like that gives me the right to do a happy dance with you over every single post and video – because all of them are well done! And I am just plain excited for this dream you made a reality. Woo Hoo! Life is fun!!

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    donna sue
    February 9, 2022 at 5:56 am

    You have every right to be over the moon with being mentioned in the “Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English”!! Your blog is now part of recorded history, and that has got to be one of the most treasured and exciting accomplishments in your life!!! I am very, very happy for you! Congratulations, Tipper! And you are just getting started with all you want to pour into Celebrating Appalachia now that it is your 100% daily job. It is going to be an even more exciting journey to travel for you from here on out!

    Donna. : )

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