Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

The Way We Talk


Chitter and a new friend have been working on a project for the last few weeks. The sweet girl Chitter had the good fortune to team up with is from Maryland. The girls have much in common and have become fast friends. However, there has been one small hiccup in the friendship…Chitter’s use of the Appalachian language.

More than once the new friend has had to investigate what Chitter was saying to fully understand the meaning behind the words.

One day the friend was talking about eating lunch down the road. Chitter said to her “Was the food any count?” The friend said “What? I don’t understand what you’re asking me.”

Another day they were talking about a local family and Chitter said “Well you know, they had a whole passel of kids.” The friend said “Passel? What kind of kids is that?”

The new friend has greatly enjoyed learning words that are common to Appalachia, but totally foreign to her and as you might imagine Chitter has been thrilled to be part of her language education 🙂


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  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 8, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Loved it….Bettern’ sayin’ “Did that no-count Diner have any special lunches worth a count? At least she was giving her friend an option…LOL

  • Reply
    Auther Ray
    November 29, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    You never hear anyone say , they got a jag of something anymore, or a peck of something anymore. No one uses a poke of anything, like a poke of candy. I got a jag of wood and a peck of taters.

  • Reply
    MAry Lou McKillip
    November 20, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Tipper. truman and I went west but most of our neighbors came from the mountains and still have the mountain saying Thank God

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    November 20, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Tipper folks around these parts do entail a lot of perhaps getting use to our slang language. I can pretty well understand what my self educated Grandfather Mintz would say “some sure crudity put to shame the English language” but I treasure my MY OLD SAYING AND LANGUAGE OF THESE BLESSED MOUNTAIN. Truman and I went up north as we would say at first some may have been liked Grandpa but I soon had them laughing with me not at me. I had a Ball entertaining those sweet folks from the North you know we all can improve but God made us just the way we are. Thanks for all you do for all of us . I am looking forward to heaven. I have a ball down here what am I going be doing in heaven ?

  • Reply
    November 16, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Easy-peasy! ‘Count =account “Dad’s saddle-back Walker hound died a week ago Thursday; he’d got old and feeble and wan’t no (ac)count as a fox dog anymore

    Passel = parcel; dunno how hit come to be a way to count young’uns, lest it’s a reference to the size of he passel, bigger than the usual number of young’uns…

    I speak 4 languages: Georgia cracker, the Queen’s English, Appalachian, and Damyankee when I cain’t git the point across any other way….

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    I enjoy learning all the differences and meanings …some of the Appalachian way saying something is exactly how we have always said it too. Now what do ya think about this…At my church whenever they sing the Hymn ”There is Power ,Power, Wonder Working Power” when they get to the word Power, they say Pow-wer, Pow-wer (two syllables) … but always , I have said Power Power (one syllable) …haha I can’t seem to wrap my lips around Pow-wer….. how do y’all sing it ??? … we have a little bit of a snow over here…I love snow 🙂

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      November 15, 2018 at 9:55 pm

      Power is pronounced the same as pare, pair and pear! Amen?

      • Reply
        November 16, 2018 at 9:29 am

        Amen 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Modern mainstream culture and language is like a recipe left in the blender so long that none of its ingredients are recognisable. Luckily a modicum of individuals have escaped the suction of this horrendous vortex. I include myself as one of the lucky ones.
    We are as endangered species. Too many feel the need to blend in. To become part of the soup. Unless we begin to fight back soon our culture will become history represented by “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Deliverance”. I believe you to be a leader in service to our cause. That’s why I joined forces with you when first I knew you!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I just love the old language! My family is from West TN and I am always surprised by how much language we have in common.

    Rainy here in TN today with a few little snowflakes. I am not ready! My baby brother loves snow so much he will stay up all night watching & waiting for it.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 10:45 am

    I just absolutely love your posts on Appalachian expressions and words, especially this one. Chitter asking if the food was any count has been lost from my vocabulary but not my memory. Folks used to have a passel of kids back in the “olden days.” I also never hear anybody say somebody has a good turn, and now simplified into they are “nice.” I am not sure if it is Appalachian, but in response to describing somebody’s enthusiasm one might hear “They are big on that.” Great post!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 10:44 am

    I giggled a little when I read that sentence using “any count” and using “passel.” I would have know exactly what Chitter was talking about and have used those words myself. Today I would use the count word just the same but I might take a quick look at the person I am talking too and decide whether to use passel or not. Many have no clue as to what that word means. God created us all a little different and isn’t that wonderful.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 10:35 am

    My 12 yr. old Grandson teases me on some of my words. Some are little simple words like try. The way he says it sounds like triee. I get the last laugh though. He says oil like I do. Sounds like oll or all and another one is vy-enne. I’m not telling him any different.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    November 15, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I love it! I am very familiar with both of those words! My Dad used to use “count” very often!

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    November 15, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Looking forward to learning Mountain Expressions, Tipper….. I’m a bit familiar with them having visited the Appalachians now and again for about 50 years from southwestern Indiana and Ohio…..Living here now in the Georgia Mountains is a blessing for both Mary and myself.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    November 15, 2018 at 9:27 am

    I am especially thankful for the way we talk. I enjoy our expressive language. it makes life so much more interesting than plain “totally book” words. I am grateful I can speak two languages, my husband’s and my Tennessee one. I am able to understand most Appalachian, and i adore your vocabulary tests. It brings back many family and friend memories. I still educate people in western Va. what I say. Thank you so much for being one of my blessings.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Christensen Bennett
    November 15, 2018 at 9:20 am

    As a person who loves words, one of my joys of living part-time in TN (born and living in CA the other) is all that I’m learning. Context helps a lot but I want to get the precise meaning so am also one who often says, “excuse me?” I am a little ahead of the game as my mother lived in the South growing up and some of the expressions are the same or similar. Hoping to make the move permanent soon. Love our gristmill, nature, the arts, the people and culture. Once again, thank you so much.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Seems there’s a right smart of confusion when I talk to my friend from Maryland too. When she learned to speak krectly, we became tobble good friends.

  • Reply
    Colleen Holmes
    November 15, 2018 at 8:28 am

    One of my favorite words is pumpknot.
    Honey child where’d you get that pumpknot on your forehead.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 15, 2018 at 8:27 am

    “Talk as you are taught not as you hear”. Those words come back to haunt me. Mother called it slang and I think of it as dialect. She would correct my brother and I constantly and we would just shake our heads and go on our way. I am sure we turned her hair gray. Today I am proud of my heritage and love our funny language. I probably use more of it today then I did years ago. I will say she was consistent. She was still correcting when she passed at 94.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 15, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Sounds like Chitter’s friend needs a copy of “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English”. Wonder if it could be turned into audio then a translator using voice recognition? Just say the word and hear the definition and examples. I think though that kind of effort is very complex because of the difference in the sound of different voices. The software has to be trained using lots of different inflections to become accurate.

    Reminds me of the preparation of the female lead in the movie “The Dollmaker”. She stayed with an elderly couple in Mt. Sterling, Ky to get the accent down right. She did her homework on that one.

    I suspect that though most of the puzzling words and expressions will be Appalachian there will also be some that are Low Country.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 15, 2018 at 8:07 am

    We certainly do have some interesting expressions. My grandmother used to say “Crawford’s not feeling too puert today” That was a word she used frequently. I have no clue how to spell it so I’m just guessing when I write puert. That’s the way it sounds like it would be spelled.
    Chitter’s no count and passel are very familiar to me also.

    • Reply
      Ann Applegarth
      November 15, 2018 at 9:03 am

      That’s a common Texas word, too, Miss Cindy. We always spelled it “pert.” No count and passel are also standard words in this corner of the U.S.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      November 15, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      I would spell it “piert” or maybe “purert” depending on how you pronounce “pure”.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 15, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Tipper–I just hope that outlander friend realizes how fortunate she is to have encountered someone who is fully fluent in mountain talk. It’s highly expressive, distinctive, and for those conversant in it, a pure delight.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    November 15, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I love it. Puts me in mind of the first time I met my husbands Ohio family. Every timlm e I opened my mouth they got tjis almost grin on their faces. Turns out they didn’t understand half of what I was telling them. And if I liked to why didn’t I just go ahead and do ut

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    November 15, 2018 at 7:27 am

    This semester, in my Appalachian Literature course, I have a student athlete from Canada. She asked last night in class if she could get a foreign language credit for taking my course.

    She has no end of fun with my use of “cutting teeth.”

    I can’t wait until next week when I can be thankful to be home and with a passel of folk who sound just like me.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2018 at 5:12 am

    My Wife has a friend that’s from out west and she had the hardest time trying to figure out some of the words that we use in a sentence, it was just as much fun hearing her try to explain what she thought we were saying, and when I say we I mean most folks she came in contact with, they’ve been here for several years now and I think she has gotten the hang of it.

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