Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

In Appalachia We Like Rs


In Appalachia we like to add the letter r to words that don’t even have one. And sometimes we like to add an r to the end of the word just for extra fun. Here’s you a few examples:

  • warsh (wash)
  • winder (window)
  • banjer (banjo)
  • tomater (tomato)
  • minner (minnow)
  • nannar (banana)
  • piller (pillow)
  • feller (fellow)
  • tater (potato)
  • widder (widow)
  • yeller (yellow)
  • baccer (tobacco)

Names are not immune to the addition of the random r either. A few years ago we were discussing the r phenomenon and Blind Pig reader Wanda said her family called her Wander and Blind Pig reader Suzi said she was surprised to learn her Aunt Ider was actually Aunt Ida.

The r use is certainly on the decline in my area of Appalachia, however I still hear all the examples above on a fairly regular basis. How about where you live?


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  • Reply
    December 18, 2021 at 7:09 am

    I have a slight southern accent living here in southeastern Missouri. When traveling to the south I quickly pick up on accents and dialects. I’m wondering do any of you say “whallago” as in saying awhile ago? I sometimes think it sounds Australian. Anyway I enjoyed watching your family on YouTube wallago. 🙂

  • Reply
    Auther Ray
    April 4, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Beulah – Beaular
    Edna – Edar

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    April 10, 2019 at 9:32 am

    I know these, use some, and still hear them here in East Tennessee. Oddly, my granny said Winder (and Warter for Water) but my mom and I say Winda. Any words that end in “ow” or “o” is changed to an “a,” such as Yella, Tomorra (Tomorrow) Fella (Fellow) Barra (Borrow) Wida (Widow) Tamata, Patata, Pilla (Pillow) Minna (Minnow) Ohia (Ohio) And Florida is pronounced Flarr-duh. Does anyone else do this?

    I find it curious that we are made fun of for adding the “R” to words, but people in Boston and the New England areas remove the “R” with impunity. Folks in the lower south and Tide Water Virginia remove the “R” and use what I call a soft “R,” as in “Ova theyah” (Over there) In East Tennessee we would say “Overr they-er” by adding a few more syllables, or as my aunt would say, “Overr thar.” I even heard a kid saying, “Overr dar.”

    Lastly, who gives directions such as these when describing where something is located?
    Up and under the bed (pronounced “upenunder”
    Up and over the fridgerator
    Down and behind the stove
    Up and out the winda

    • Reply
      April 16, 2019 at 8:24 am

      Joe-I say winda too 🙂 and I add the a to ow words! All your directions are familiar to me too. I never heard up in under until I met my husband! Thank you for the comment!

  • Reply
    Jim Thomas
    April 12, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    I remember my uncles saying hisn and hern and itsen.

  • Reply
    Erroll Woodward
    April 1, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    I guess your use of the letter “r” has used ours all up. Here in Down East Maine, we often use”ah” for the rs at the end of words.
    Thus we have : Lobstah for lobster, hackah for hacker, cah for car, workah for worker ,etc.
    No need to return any of the “rs” as we get along bettah without them.

  • Reply
    Leon Estes
    March 10, 2018 at 4:45 am

    I guess I come by it honest – – My Gr Gr Grandpa was born in East Tennessee, but moved to SW Missouri in about 1855. By the time I was born my Dad was in Central Oklahoma. And, we used “warsh” for a long time in our family!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2018 at 6:44 am

    My father calls the piece of furniture where he keeps his folded clothes a “chesterdrawers.” I think I was in college when I finally realized he was saying “chest of drawers.”

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    March 8, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Just love to read about all the folks who have the same experience with this as me. My granny on my mama’s side was Velma, but everyone called her Velmer and my great grandma on my daddy’s side was Flora and they called her Florie. Funny how some a’s become “er”s and some become “y”s. I also have a great aunt Thelmer instead of Thelma and a cousin Evie instead of Eva.

    Is it just me, or does it seem that we only do this with the women’s names and not the men’s?

  • Reply
    March 8, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve heard, still hear, and use most all of the “variations” mentioned: the inserted “r’s”, the double “d’s”, the end tag “er’s”, “ie’s” and “y’s” where traditional spelling would put an “a”, and, one I don’t see mentioned – so maybe it’s more midwestern – just plain leaving off the last letter or syllable as in saying “idee” for “idea”. – – gotta stop a moment and think on this one – – surely there are more examples of this last one. . . .

  • Reply
    Michael Montgomery
    March 7, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    But once upon a few centuries ago, the R was lost before S in many common words. I remember a post about NUSS here a couple of years ago. HORSE was commonly HOSS, too, not just on TV Westerns. And what about PASSEL? I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say “a PARCEL of kids.”

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Heard them all my life, but with the older generation passing on, these words are passing with them, this musical language.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I had about 1/2″ of Snow this morning. It was those little round balls so I knew it wouldn’t amount to much. When I got below the Brady Curve, there wasn’t nothing, but folks were blowing their horns at me. I guess they were wondering where I got that Snow! ha …Ken

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    March 7, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    I toted a load o’ ‘baccer down to ‘Lanner ona truck.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Gotta love Appalachians. I have also noticed the practice at one time of adding a y on end. For instance Martha became Marthy, Ida became Idy, and my mother’s sisters who had an a on the end of their name automatically had y added when saying their names. As I think back and also in genealogy, it seems they had a love for names ending in a just so they could change it to a y 🙂

    I have been visiting with grandson who lives in city. We came upon a street called Dent that went up a hill, and before I even had a chance to correct myself, I said, “Oh, that goes up Dent Holler.” He got quite a giggle out of me changing that city street into a holler. Force of habit I guess? No matter how I changed through the years I always called a hollow a holler.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Nothing ain’t like it use to be. I blame ‘schoolin’ mostly, for causing this, but I liked my Teachers also. I can remember “old timers” and they’re putting an “r” at the end of most everything. It was alright with me, cause I realized what they were saying anyway. …Ken

  • Reply
    William Buntin
    March 7, 2018 at 11:19 am

    I remember my Grand Pap referring to the automobile as a FLIVER. I sometimes use the same expression. LOL

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

    I had an Aunt Velmer (Velma) and an Aunt Thelmer (Thelma) They were twins! Had an Aunt Buler (Beulah) too! Got a sister-in-law Brender (Brenda). These were all in West Tn so technically not Appalachia but the language, especially my mother’s, had and has a lot in common.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 10:38 am

    My Iowa Grandparents called my great aunt “Corey” instead of “Cora” and Grandma was called “Idey” rather than “Ida.” But their kids were “Verda” and “Ila,” and no one ever called them “Verdey” and “Iley.” A generational change?

    Tom Brokaw, from South Dakota, (say Dakoda) used to report the news from WaRshington.

    I had a friend from “Hot fud,” Connecticut who called me “Dayner.”

    Some Appalachian pronunciations seem fairly common among many across the country who speak a language other than dictionary prescribed English.

    Interesting the examples here of internal letter “T” becoming the sound of double “d.” (wadder) And years ago the end sound of “d” changed in other words to the sound of “T.” Who pronounces the “d”in “washed”? “Pushed”? But most say the “d” in “shoved.”

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 10:26 am

    How bout squarsh and urnions? And waspers, don’t forget them little devils!

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    March 7, 2018 at 10:19 am

    I had three aunts:
    Anner (Anna)
    Eller (Ella)
    Becker (Rebbeca)

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    March 7, 2018 at 10:13 am

    I’ve head all those words and more from my grandmother back about 60 years ago in MS. With names, I head Elva pronounced Elvie or Velma pronounced Velmer.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 10:09 am

    I’ve heard all of them from folks in several different parts of the U.S., but
    I don’t hear them very often nowadays. Too bad. I still say warsh, and
    use the terms nanner or tater occasionally just for fun.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 8:41 am

    My friend from PA still says warsh and I still say most of your example word and a few more. My daughter is wanting to put a few hogs in the old hog lot until they get them fattened up. I told her the hogs would waller the ground so bad I wouldn’t be able to raise crops there any longer. Daddy would get our attention if he threatened to go break him a keen switch off of the willer tree.

    • Reply
      Don Byers
      March 7, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      I toted a load o’ baccer down to ‘Lanner ona truck.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 8:32 am


  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Not only do I hear ’em, I say ’em. With the exception of warsh and yeller the complete list. For me warsh is worsh and yeller is yaller. Add marshmeller to the list and my great aunt Steller.
    Nowthen over on Licklog there were not one but two Leler Breedloves. One was married to John Breedlove and the other to Bob Breedlove and they lived right close to one another. People couldn’t keep them apart if they needed to talk about them, so John’s wife became Leler John and Bob’s became Leler Bob.
    You know every word the English language should have at least one r in it. Us Appalachian speakers are just a step closer to that goal.

    I’ll be trying all day to think of words with extra rs in them now, thanks to you!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Always heard these from my dad who was born and raised in Florida!

  • Reply
    aw griff
    March 7, 2018 at 8:08 am

    I’ve heard all of these in I use many of them in everday talk but some for fun. Some others I say are : mellow-meller,tallow-taler,valor-valer. Now, who ever heard a bull bellow???

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 8:01 am

    My wife puts r in words that don’t have them and leaves r out of others like Motha for Martha.

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    March 7, 2018 at 7:32 am

    We southerners talk slow for sure. My Granny who died in 1990 used all of your examples of language abuse and more. It used to aggravate my teenage soul to the bone because you know I was citified being from Canton and all. From the ‘taar on the caar going thru Eddards Cove (for Edwards Cove) to get gaas’ made me just cringe. For most part Granny was last generation to use the added or dropped ‘E’ and such. (And I adored my grandparents.) I have property in Beaufort, NC and its odd how many times the accent changes from say Murphy to Beaufort going across NC. (Not to mention GA.) I have tried in all my years to sound as if I can hold a civilized conversation with anyone from anywhere but I ‘reckon’ it takes me awhile no matter how hard I try.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 7, 2018 at 7:06 am

    We would rarely, if ever, say it but “meadow” would be “meader”. And in northwest GA “Armuchee” is spoken “Armurchee”. Somehow ‘moo chee’ is just a wrong note.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 7, 2018 at 7:05 am

    I’ve heard all if these Tipper, and more. You are right though, I hear them less than I used to hear them. I started to a few more examples then realized we can manage to put an r on the end of almost anything!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Ummm….You left out holler (hollow) both geographical and a reference to a lack of interior.

    • Reply
      March 7, 2018 at 7:31 am

      Thank you JustAnOldGuy! How could I forget holler I live in one LOL!

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    March 7, 2018 at 6:39 am

    There are some words used up in the North East where an r is added. I remember the Kennedys saying Donner and Cuber for Donna and Cuba. There are probably more that do not come to my mind at this time.
    I heard all the words you published while growing up on Upper Shell Creed, Carter County, TN in the forties and fifties.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes Moreno
    March 7, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Still active and alive with several folks I know. I don’t hear it as much anymore. My Granny used to say “ that ‘bout took my backer”. That meant something was very painful and about all she could stand!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2018 at 6:23 am

    Hey, cents you was up get me a glass of wadder (water).
    Wondr ( Wanda ).
    Rhondr ( Rhonda )
    Here them quite often.

  • Reply
    Sheryl PaulI
    March 7, 2018 at 6:04 am

    I met a girl from NJ that did that too.

  • Reply
    Charles E. Howell
    March 7, 2018 at 5:57 am

    “Hold yer Taters.”

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