Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Instru-ment Settle-ment And Confi-dent

Dialect stresses words that end in ment

We have our instru ments and we’re ready to play and sing for you!


If you’ve ever taken a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School you’ve probably attended Morning Song. If you’ve never got to visit the folk school-Morning Song is the start of the day for students taking classes.

Morning Song starts at 7:45 a.m. and is typically held in the Keith House. The session includes a little talking along with a little music. The girls have recently handled a few Morning Song sessions for the folk school and have thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

The Pressley Girls have the talking part down pat-and they don’t do half bad on the music part either-so I’m hoping the Morning Song students are enjoying them as well.

Do you ever hear a word differently even though it’s a word that you hear all the time? The other morning the girls were packing the car when I heard one of them say something about their instruments. Except…I heard the word as instru ment. Almost like it was 2 words instead of one.

Instru ment. It stayed with me all day. I began to think of other ment words. The first one that came to mind settlement. Pap uses the word settlement often to describe a more populated area. I said the word aloud-and I heard myself say it as settle ment. Again like 2 words. More words came to mind government, treatment, and even studyment. I heard them all as 2 words.

Next my mind went to dent words: confident, accident, independent. I heard them as 2 words too.

Finally I made myself quit thinking about words and get to work. But as soon as I got home I ran and checked my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English to see if it had anything to say about my ears hearing 2 words.

I felt very validated when I found the following:

ment suffix [pronounced with stress]
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 224 In mountain dialect such words as settlement, government, studyment (reverie) are accented on the last syllable, or drawled with equal stress throughout. 1942 Hall Phonetics 71 The suffixes –dent and –ment (except independent) in most instances have secondary stress: accident, confident, devilment, instrument, monument, payment, settlement, testament, etc. 1974 Fink Bits Mt Speech 16 = accented last syllable in words as settlment’, government’, treatement’, etc.

After reading the entry I though ahhhhaaa I was right. Hall disagrees with me about the word independent but that’s ok the rest of the entry made my ears feel very justified.


p.s. Studyment is one of The Deer Hunter’s favorite words. Studyment = studying on something.


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  • Reply
    Ashley Preston
    October 28, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    Looking for a settlement

  • Reply
    Ashley Preston
    October 28, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    I am looking for a settlement

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 21, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    On occasion I would catch myownself looking at the girls pictures you post. What is it that is making me ponder on that particular picture of either one or the other! “Just reminds me of someone”, I said to me!
    This evening while reading comments the light bulb went on!
    Have either one of your girls ever tried out for the part of “Dorothy” in “The Wizard of Oz”? I know NC is a far place from Kansas but either one would make a beautiful “Dorothy” and I betcha they could sing “Over The Rainbow” as good or better than Judy Garland! “What-do-ya think”?
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Even a Pepper-mint (ment) recipe would help!
    PSS…Just had me a piece of the best Pumpkin Cake (cream cheese) Roll ever and a glass of milk! Yep, everything is just “Pumpkin glory” this near Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Words have always fascinated me, actually words that have other words in them that seem to relate, and I wonder if they began because of that.
    For instance, the word “devil” has the word “evil” in it, and if you turn the word “evil” backwards, it spells “live”. Those who believe in God believe He equals life (i.e. “live”), while the devil equals evil which equals death. Interesting!!!
    Another intriquing word is “charmed” which has the words “harmed” and “armed” in it along with “harm” and “arm”.
    Just somewhat engaging stuff that probably has no deeper meaning, but always stops and gets me to thinking when I notice it.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    What fabric is the fiddlin twin’s dress made of? Is that what they call paisley?

  • Reply
    trisha too
    November 21, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Wow, those beautiful Pressley girls have grown a mile since the last time I peeked in at them–they look like their pretty mama!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 21, 2014 at 11:56 am

    I never thought much about those
    words, but far as I’m concerned, it
    just doesn’t matter how those
    Pressley Girls say words when they
    sing so pretty…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 21, 2014 at 10:12 am

    So you had an ahhhaaa mo ment.
    I did an independent study of my own usage and here are the results.
    The words I put the stress on the last syllable are instrument, confident, accident, monument and testament.
    Those I don’t are settlement, government, treatment, independent and payment.
    So that’s about 50/50.
    I don’t pronounce the n in gover ment and I pronounce pronounce pernounce. I never heard of studyment until today.
    Here ends my independent study of todays subject.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 21, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I’d never thought about this but in looking back I find that I do tend to stress the dent and ment in most words. Exceptions are settlement and independent where these words roll off my tongue as one syllable. When I was working on a case along with an Ohio AG he implied I had an accent, I advised him this wasn’t accurate since everyone around here talked like me so he was the one with the accent. Reading this morning’s blog I realize just how similar the speech of the native population is. Actually I wear this as a badge of pride and anyone who is bothered by it can feel free to quit trying to change our little slice of heaven to make it like where they came from and return to the locale where everyone talks like they do. Obviously most of them like our area or they wouldn’t have pulled up roots and moved here, so I would appreciate it if they would assimilate instead of trying to change us to mirror “Where I came from” as I’ve heard so often when dealing with them. I used to work with an officer who was quick to explain that he didn’t really care how they “Did it in Florida” since we aren’t in Florida.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Seems I have heard folks around here leaving “vern” (female pun) totally out of politics. Something like our friends in Washington like to do on occasion. In other words the word is pronounced “gv’mint”!!!
    “I shore wish the “state gv’mint” would fix them holy roads, one is so deep, I seed the “devil jump up” when I straddled the truck over hit!”
    I hear “ment” emphasized quite often. My grandparents always used the two word term! You were right as rain or snow…lol
    Great post!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Speaking of mints (ments)ummmm…Do you have any recipes for “holiday mints”!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Interesting! However, if one looks up each word in a Webster, you will note which syllable is the accepted accented syllable. Often I think it depends where you learned your words as a child and grew up with them. Happy ‘ment’ days to all!

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    November 21, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Well Tipper, all your words being considered seemed pert nigh right to me. But that STUDYMENT is strange to me. Never heard it before now. I will look it up and do some studying about it. Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Mel H.
    November 21, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Spelled “ment”, sounds like “mint”…

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    November 21, 2014 at 7:18 am

    I like to pronounce “government” as “gummit”. Dag-gummit!

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