Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Come, Eat, Give, Run – Word Usage


Why do people in the south talk funny

When you were in elementary school did you learn about the tenses of words-you know the present, past, and past participle? My OCD side enjoyed putting the right tense of a word in the right column on the page the teacher gave out as an assignment.

While I made good grades on those word worksheets, I sure wouldn’t have got a good grade if my speech was tested. I still wouldn’t.

In Appalachia we do all sorts of crazy things with the present-past-past participle tense of words. Who knows how many we change in our speech, but today I’m going to concentrate on 4 words.

  1. Come: instead of the correct come, came, come usage in Appalachia is often come, come, come. “Yesterday I come by to see you but they said you was already gone.”
  2. Eat: instead of the correct eat, ate, eaten it is often eat, eat, eat. “For Martha’s birthday last month, we eat the best supper. We had fried taters, soup beans, cornbread and fresh kill lettuce from the garden.”
  3. Give: instead of give, gave, given it is often give, give, give. “I just give you 10 dollars at the beginning of the week and you’ve already done spent it?”
  4. Run: instead of run, ran, run  it is often run, run, run. “Yesterday I run over to Walmarts-I guess that’s where I was when you come by.”

I’m guilty of all the examples above. I’ve found when I’m writing I’m more likely to use the correct tense, but when I’m talking, forget about it-I’m never going to get it right.


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  • Reply
    November 15, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Gayle-thank you for the comment! Yep the seen example you used is common here too. Im positive I say it : )

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 12, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    It’s not a bucket. Buckets don’t have nails in them. At least not buckets I know about. It looks like a piece of rusted metal skirting, I am not sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a bucket.
    I have one for you. Which is correct? If I was on the moon, or, If I were on the moon. I am not asking because I already know, I’m asking because I would really like to know. Is this an example of the future perfect tense? Maybe you or one of your learned readers might enlighten me.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    November 12, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    I had a teacher in the 6th grade that stayed on me for saying heerd.Ever time I said heerd she said herd.She finally broke me of that word,and to this day I say heard.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    There are those who would stereotype us by our dialect as ignorant hillbillies. I, however, am proud of my Appalachian heritage and I’m glad for my speech to reflect it.
    I wrote a novel in ‘The Queen’s English’ because that’s the way I was taught to write. But the character’s lacked the sweet nuances of my mountain people. The next book I wrote in the vernacular and sometimes people had to ask, “What’s that mean” – but not the local folk. Most everyone that’s read it says they love it.
    I find writing this way more challenging but reading it is very comfortable. And it produces characters you can’t help but love, just the way you can’t help but love the people of Appalachia.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I was driving a school bus in Georgia when I saw two kids moving around in the back. My rule was you stay seated when the bus is moving. I said, “set down back air.” A kid just behind me asked, “Why for you white folks always says back air?” My answer was, “Because back airs where the problem is.”
    One of my sisters says, “Raise that winder up or raise that winder down.”
    I’ve noticed that none of the weathermen in Charlotte can pronounce ‘problem’. They either leave out the b or the l – most the l.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    November 12, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Lots of fun commentary on this here post of yourn, Tipper.
    At home we learn to speak at 2. At school we learn write at 6–well after our speech has hardened into firm habit.
    Some lament the grammatical corruptions of the thinly educated. But I find that many people with small vocabularies are more expressive than those wielding large lexicons.
    Echo Dolores on the common confusion between “can” and “may.” Other typical confusions are between verbs “sit” and “set,” and “lie” and “lay”–not to mention between pronouns “I” and “me.”
    I think the gerund is on life support in this country. And with so many nouns used as verbs, verbs used as nouns, and adjectives use as nouns, the grammarians must be ready to toss in the towel.
    And then there is the “like” talk that has completely taken over American conversation –spoken contrived drama where “like” is used as a quotative or pseudo-quotative.
    Frankly, the educated can no longer claim expressive superiority over the less schooled.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 11:46 am

    so many thoughts runnin’ ’round my brain:
    We use “are you from ’round here” as well as “are you from these parts”.
    We use the present tense, for the past and past participle as well as sometimes use a past or past participle for the present as in “He seen her sneaking out of the house”. – or we might use a variant: “I seed that puppy shanking (yes, that’s the spelling/’pronouncement’ I mean) that towel.
    “Lie” and “lay” get all tangled up in our talk – but seems that’s true of most everbody.
    When we’re truly with homefolks or especially want to make a point, we’ll use “nary” instead of never – “you-uns would nary catch a thing”
    . . . and remember “arsh” for Irish potatoes which led to cussin’ and discussin’ “warsh” for “wash”, the mispronouncement of which I am quite guilty! ?

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I’m glad you’re not “high floutin”. I realize when you write, you’re careful to use the right words, I’m that way too most of the time. When I was in Elementary School, we had some teachers that tried to change our dialect. They meant well, but failed miserably. I got a friend in Cleveland, Tenn. that abuses the King’s English almost as bad as I do. …Ken

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I am with you, Miss Cindy. The photo attracted me, also. I think Tipper has really grown with her photography skills. Congratulations! Now, the grammar part! I taught middle school English for a number of years. I was a rather grammar teacher, so tenses. Made a big difference in students’ writings. Oh, well! Now I correct my granddaughter when she visits. The big one often was the proper use of ‘may’ and ‘can.’ I must admit there are others.

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    November 12, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I taught English/LA in Southwest Virginia for fifteen years. I taught my students to know the difference between formal English and “Everyday Talk” and how to know when to use each one. Everyday Talk is how you converse with family and friends. All of us have it, but we are judged on our formal English.
    They asked me if I always used formal English?
    I said, ” Are you kidd’n?” I got a East Tennessee Twang, mixed with a Southwest VirginiaTwang an younuns iffn I used it all the time, you’d never understand a word I said!”

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 12, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I thought about this here post and pondered on it. Where in the hillbilly did you get the ideer or think you’uz a’soundin’ like a Appalachian mountain girl. Why I thunk about this and I jest can’t wonder that you’uz a’talkin’ any more like a holler foreigner than the rest of us here people.
    Fer instance, now then I allwas said, the rite place fer lettus was in the garden plot. But, if’n you brung it in the house instead of purslane or creases fer your spring clean out, you have to wilt it to kill it and then eat it kilt!
    Well, I gotta go, I’m carrying my neighbor to the Walmarts! She’as a’wantin’ to go to the Woolsworth, but her heaid is bit backards these here days so I done went an lied and told Walmarts, wuz Woolsworth that they’uns jest changed it up with them arn shelfs instead of wood tables!
    When i’us in lower grades, the ‘guvment’ brung in some teachers from up North. They done tried to teach us how to talk like them. They said we’s a’talkin’ all wrong. I learnt early on that what they really wanted wuz to move in next door to get away from them crowded up folks theyus a’livin’ next door to! Hit jest took’em a while to larn how to talk like us, so’s they could try an offer us what our places was worth. Why now they know there ain’t no place on this here earth like the people or the mountains or our way we do thangs. I’ve heerd that some wished they’d moved here years ago, they jest didn’t know how to get by or make do!
    You talk jest fine to me!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 12, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Tipper–There’s also a pronounced penchant in mountain talk for turning verbs into nouns (often with an “s” attached). Two of the examples you offer hold true in this regard.
    “We had some mighty fine eats for supper.” Eats is a synonym for words like fixin’s, fodder, comestibles, or treats. Come to think of it, treat is another word that can morph from verb to noun.
    Another example: “That boy et a mess of green apples and he’s had the runs for two days.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Love the photo! Through the years my speech has changed tremendously. The time I lived in a city did much to change my speech and make me more aware. However, I find myself trusting and being drawn to the folks who have changed little over time. They have not been cowardly as I have been. They have stayed true to themselves, and seem to care not if someone pokes fun at the way they speak. I can boast that I do not use ings on a regular basis, but will go through life doing my Appalachian cookin’ and sewin’ on my sewing machine and cooking stove.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 9:13 am

    The grammar police should have arrested me a long time ago. I use those words just as you have in your examples. I know better, but can’t help it.
    My sister, who usually chooses her words better than I do, even makes me giggle when she tells me what she fount at a yard sale.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    November 12, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Another one I have heard a lot is “I have went” instead of “I have gone”

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 12, 2016 at 8:41 am

    If I suffer from an OCD problem you have found it. My sweet bride fusses at me for correcting anyone for using the incorrect tense of a word, usually it is one of our children but sometimes a friend will continue using the incorrect tense and after several times I just have to correct them as it grates upon me like finger nails on a Blackboard. I try to make it a light moment by joking about it. My youngest sister who recently retired as an auditor for half the state with NCESC asked me to inquire of you if you were familiar with her one word she often uses to determine if someone is “from round here” or not. This word is scrouge, we were wondering if this word was used in Brasstown or if it’s just a Needmore word.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I am also an OCD grammarian. What really bothers me is the misuse of lay (transitive) and lie(intransitive). This misuse is prevalent in all forms of media and writing. I guess nobody really cares anymore, but it’s like finger nails on a chalkboard to me. Anyway, I done give up.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    November 12, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Tipper, I’m with you. When I write, I stick to their usage rules. But, when I talk, I let it all hang out.
    There is something comforting in how we use our words. Even just reading your examples made me feel good inside.
    Martin Heidegger said we dwell in language. For me, it’s that language that calls me home.
    Thanks as always for giving me something meaningful to think about.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Yep that’s the way we talk, kinda like hearing Jeff Foxworthy.. He’s made millions on it.. Good stuff.. LOL

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 12, 2016 at 8:10 am

    The one word I hear used so much here is seen. Everyone says I seen that instead of saw that. Is that native to here ??? I think I hear it almost everyday in one way or another.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 12, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Lol. I also write better than I talk. I have used most of these words in the same ways.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 12, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Tip, I like to think our speech is economical…we use one word to cover three!
    I like the photo, a rusty bucket, I think.

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