Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Profiles of Mountain People

Habitual Words

Fishing in appalachia

Have you ever been around someone who used the same word or words in every sentence? Years ago, I was introduced to a man who at the end of every sentence said “and what not”. I remember being obsessed with listening to him to see if just once he wouldn’t say “and what not”. Never happened, he said it at the end of every sentence just like clock work.

A few other habitual sayings I’ve heard:

  • you know (one of The Deer Hunter’s best friends says “you know” at the end of all his sentences-you know)
  • anyway
  • you know what I’m saying
  • now it’n it
  • like
  • ah or uh
  • now
  • well
  • the thing is
  • so

I’m sure you’ve heard some of the ones I mentioned, but sometimes folks habitually say things that aren’t so common.

When Pap was growing up, Old Man Bud Baker lived over in the next holler. Pap said everyone loved Bud because he was a lot of fun to be around. Bud’s habitual saying was “si hell”. Pap said no matter what Bud was telling or talking about he always started it with si hell.

Pap said one day Bud came around telling “Si hell I killed a rattlesnake that was 5ft long yesterday.” Pap’s father said he didn’t really believe there were rattlesnakes that big. Bud answered back “Si hell I know it was cause I measured it.”

Another elder from Pap’s childhood, George was fond of saying “now I hell” at the beginning of his sentences. Actually Pap said George’s entire family took up the habit of saying now I hell.

George lived at the head of Pinelog and one day a trader came to see him about buying a milk cow. The trader asked if the cow was a good milker. George told him “Now I hell she gives a waste of milk.” Taking that to mean she gave to much milk to use the trader bought the cow. Didn’t take long for the trader to figure out the cow wasn’t a good milker. He soon came around to ask about the cow’s lack of milk. George said “Now I hell I told you she gives a waste of milk-enough to cream your coffee but not enough to make gravy!”

L.C., a local gentleman, is known for saying “I tell you what” at the start of his sentences. I guess my habitual saying is “well”. While I don’t say it at the start of every sentence I do say it quite a bit.

Well how about you, do you have a habitual saying or know someone who does?

Tipper

Today’s post is a blast from the past. It was originally published here-on Febuary 11, 2009.

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    February 15, 2020 at 6:26 am

    We had a Postmaster here in Kingsport that would almost always say at the end of a statement, “Don’t You See,”
    I remember him saying to me once, “You need to go to the National Postal Forum in DC this year, Don’t You See.”

  • Reply
    Ed Mauney
    June 4, 2018 at 7:29 am

    My dad run a little store in Shady Rest NC and old farmers would gather around and here are a few of their sayings.

    Mr. Reid . Saying would end with . (going at , day)
    Mr. Whip would end his with, (And there rue and then so fer , )
    Mr. Rob (uruh,) these were all Cloninger brothers,

  • Reply
    Monica Cochran
    July 29, 2011 at 9:20 am

    My husband grew up in Bryson City, North Carolina. Cherokee, North Carolina is just around the corner. The Cherokee for the most part say, (I’m going to spell this the way it sounds to me) pu-ssh Honet. We just always found this very interesting. If truth be known, it probably means something in the Cherokee language.

  • Reply
    s kalvaitis
    June 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I have a neighbor who couldn’t tell you his name without finishing with “an ever thang”. When I first met him I was hard pressed not to laugh till he was out of ear shot.

  • Reply
    Luann Sewell Waters
    January 31, 2011 at 10:07 am

    My high school home ec. teacher ended sentences with, “You know what I mean?” Oh, it got so old after a while!

  • Reply
    Shane Moad
    January 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Yup, you can put me down with the Deer Hunters best friend…..I often say “you know” after a sentence……as in, “I am really getting kind of mad with people who drive with out a license you know!” ; ) Have great day y’all. Shane

  • Reply
    Janet
    January 26, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I know a person who said all the time, “my, my child”, and I catch myself saying it a lot. A few others are, “dog gone it”, “man”, “well, I swear” and “well, you don’t say”.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    January 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    One of my grandfather’s dearest friends – both long gone now– would start every sentence with “By gad” — I can just hear him saying, “By gad, bacon grease ain’t gonna hurt you none.” And I was told that my grandfather’s first cousin — and this waaaaay back in the day when people walked to visit each other, no cars — would ALWAYS say at the end of every family visit, “Stay all night!” We repeated that saying for years in my family even though I never met that cousin.

  • Reply
    DocHunter48
    January 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I had a professor in medical school who drove us crazy with his obsessive, repetitive use of the word “essentially”, often several times in the same sentence. Some days a few of us probably got nothing from his lectures because we were busy counting his use of the word “essentially.”

  • Reply
    Tipper
    January 26, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Charlie-no he doesn’t use it-but I’ve heard other folks who do : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    January 26, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Tipper: i think i always end any conversation with, take care now, i try not to but it just comes out. but i never end with you know what i mean. you know what i mean.k.o.h

  • Reply
    Dean
    January 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I worked with a guy in Highlands one summer clearing building lots for Sapphire Valley. He was from the Little Canada area of Jackson county. He started almost every sentence with “They hell”. It was also his favorite exclamation.
    My favorite sentence he uttered was one morning after heavy rains, he came to work and said “They hell, it fell a flood last night.”

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I hear “I’m just sayin”” constantly. I use hows your Mom and them alot myself, but not nem which I would guess means them.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I have a friend who uses “yada yada yada” a lot. Sometimes I wonder what that means.
    I’ve also heard folks who begin every comment with “son”….not too sure what that means either.
    Guess most of these are just habits, or nervous habits.

  • Reply
    Nancy
    January 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I may say “allrighty then,” after a one-sided conversation. I have quite a few of those.
    Allrighty then.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    January 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I’m bad to start sentences with WELL too — though I only notice it in my writing.

  • Reply
    Anne
    January 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Oh my goodness (yep, that’s one of my way too frequent beginnings)
    This very morning, I spoke with a dear friend of mine that ends nearly every sentence with “an’ everything”!!! This a.m., she exclaimed, “It surely has been a mite too chilly here in South Mississippi…an ‘everthing.
    A phrase that ends most visits to other peoples’ homes in MS and Alabama is “Ya’ll come and go with us, ya’ hear?” WHAT IF those folks replied with, “just give us a minute and we’ll pack a bag”?
    On the Pressley comment of Dog Gond, a fellow up in Alleghany county that I speak with often, ends almost every sentence with “Dog Gond It”. I never heard that before.
    We live in South LA, but are from South MS, where every “country folk” describes whoever they are talking about as “Mom an’ Nem” or Sis an’ Nem”. I wonder just who Nem is?

  • Reply
    B Ruth
    January 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Tipper,
    Well…you know what grates on my nerves worsen’ a dull rasp?
    The California girl lingo…Like I went to, like a while ago, like to the store, like I saw Justin, like he saw me, like I nearly died, like when he, like looked over, like he smiled, like, like, like…Ah see God…

  • Reply
    Judith Alef
    January 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Tipper~ Hi! My grandfather “Daddy Joe” was an Acadian gentleman from Louisiana. When he was making his good byes he’d always say, “you take care now, you hear?” He and mother added ‘you hear’ for emphasis. It was a wonderful endearment for me once I moved so far away from home. It was also said “you hear now” as a cautionary ending. I so miss those voices, stilled now by their passing.

  • Reply
    Egghead
    January 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Ohhhh yes. The farmer ALWAYS say “like I said” at the end of his sentences. Drives me insane which is not far to go.

  • Reply
    Ken
    January 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Tipper,
    I liked Martina’s phrase. A friend
    of mine from Nantahala, an Indian
    mostly, would say at the end of
    his sentences “thats for dang shore!” I suppose that was to put
    the lid on any rebuttle. He always
    had a bunch of young people that
    liked to hang around him working
    on old race cars, dozers, and he
    even kept me busy working on his
    Gravely Tractor, getting it ready
    for spring plantin’.
    Nice post…maybe we needed a re-
    call of the past…Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Bradley–I took great delight in your comment offering an apology for ending a sentence with a preposition. No less personage than Winston Churchill had the perfect answer for that issue. He said of ending sentences in prepositions: “That is something up with which I will not put.”
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    January 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I have a friend who says, “and That”, at the end of all her chat,
    she was originally a Tennessee lady.

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    January 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I have a friend who throws “right there” in amongst his sentences seemingly at random. “She picked up the broom, right there, and swept the floor.” Or, “I just picked up a lug wrench, right there, and took the wheel off.” If he finds out I’m talking about him he’ll know who he is. He won’t stop doing it, but he may very well stop being my friend!

  • Reply
    Sandra
    January 25, 2011 at 11:58 am

    this is to funny, i have a best friend that says “and what not” at the end of her sentences. I am guilty of saying UMMM at the end of most of my sentences. or so everyone tells me. Ummmm

  • Reply
    martina
    January 25, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I’ve been saying “okey dokey” a lot. Don’t know why. Mom likes to say “welcome to my world” a lot. Dad used to say “do you follow me so far” when teaching someone something. So, if you follow me so far, welcome to my world. Everything is okey dokey.

  • Reply
    Bradley
    January 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Tipper,
    What a coincidence you woud make this post about those words that some people always start and end a sentence with. (sorry about the preposition ending this sentence). However a wonderful person I’ve known since my childhood was laid to rest yesterday and his words were “Ah See God”. Not all but most of his sentences started and ended with Ah see God. He once said that he had said something that made his wife mad and Ah see God he’d know better the next time.
    Sometime back I made the remark that the “Snow Princess’ looked just like the Deer Hunter…well after that picture at the beginning of your post today…I REST MY CASE!; enough said. The eye color is the only thing I can see that is not identical. The eyebrows, the eye shapes, facial bone structure, even their cupid bows are identical. Ah see God she’s just like him see God!
    Bradley

  • Reply
    CHARLIE FETCHER
    January 25, 2011 at 9:53 am

    THE CHARLIE PRESSLEY’S, MY GRAND- FOLKS ALL USED THE WORD;
    “DOG GOND” AFTER NEARLY ALL WORDS.
    DID THE DEAR HUNTER PRESSLEYS USE THIS?
    CHARLIE

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 25, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Tipper–When I was a boy growing up in Swain County I loved to listen to the hellfire-and-damnation preachers who frequented the town square (locally known as “Loafer’s Glory”) on Saturdays. We called them “Bible thumpers.” They punctuated their speechifying by waving their arms and smacking closed Bibles with their hand. Virtually every statement began with “Now let me tell you brother!”
    I spent a great deal of time with my paternal grandfather as a boy. He was decidedly quair (or quare–use your prefered spelling), and he too was a great one for talking not only with his mouth but with his hands. We got along wonderfully well, thanks no doubt to a number of shared traits including eccentricity, stubborness, and a love of closeness to the earth. Rather than a standard beginning, Grandpa Joe was extremely fond of using the same ending as opposed to the same beginning. He would make some pronouncement,often one characterized by a healthy dose of paranoia, and I would express a degree of skepticism. He’d simply wrap things up with “You’ll larn.” All too often that simple statement was prophetic, because I would indeed, to my dismay, learn of the accuracy of what he said.
    Some of the speaking mannerisms you mention really frost my grits, with “you know” being foremost. It’s a terrible mode of expression. No, I don’t know. If the speaker has something to share, by all means do so, but don’t assume I am omniscient.
    As for “uh,” it is an unconscious mannerism, usually replacing what is often described as a pregnant pause, when a person is searching for a thought or mode of expression. Even after decades of public speaking I have to watch myself in that regard, and sometimes when I have viewed tapes of my talks I am appalled at the number of times I resorted to “uh.”
    Interesting material, especially when it set me to thinking about old timers and their peculiar mode of talk.
    One more example–There was an old fellow in Bryson City who wasn’t, to use the description common at the time “all there.” Any time you saw him, whether it was summer or winter, pouring rain or with bright sun, he always said the same thing: “A little rain wouldn’t hurt none.”
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    January 25, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I have a habit of saying well! or I mean! or ya know it? I guess my favorite is well! Sometimes you may not realize you are saying these, but it’s better than putting on a good cuss as my daddy used to say .Blessings

  • Reply
    WAYNE NEWTON
    January 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

    An acquaintance from long ago would end many statements with: ‘n this that ‘n th’other.
    In my writing, I tend to use the conjunction “and” way too much. When I proof-read, I delete many of them, replacing with just a comma.
    A friend of Cathy uses: “Like I say”, constantly,in her conversation, and she hasn’t said it at all.

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