Appalachian Dialect Celebrating Appalachia Videos

Words that Start with A in Appalachia

give him down the road

In my recent video I share words from Appalachia that begin with the letter A.

I used the “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English” as a reference tool. Some of the words I’m familiar with, many I’ve never even heard of!

I hope you enjoyed the video-please leave a comment with any thoughts you have about the words.

The expected release date of the new “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English” is June 28. If you’d like to pre-order a copy go here.

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  • Reply
    Linda Hancock
    January 22, 2021 at 11:45 pm

    Love these vocabulary sessions. They bring the memories a poppin out. I had forgotten how my mom used to say that she didn’t know someone from Adam’s off ox. Growing up, I had no idea what an off ox was. My dad called suey to the pigs. I use the word abide sometimes, especially when I’m being stern: I can’t abide such and such. I’ve been listening more to my own speech and am finding that, tho’ I am accustomed to it, it is more colorful than I thought. That, too, causes me to think back and remember my folks’ speech ways. Language is so interesting. Thank you for all your sharing with us.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 22, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    I ordered the book. I couldn’t find a discount or free shipping but I never expected to. Those things never seem to apply to me. I always say “If I can’t pay full price and then some, I don’t want it, slap on another fee!”

  • Reply
    Mary Reed
    January 22, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    I grew up in Oklahoma with my great aunts and uncles. They were born in the late 1800’s and raised in Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. There family roots went back to Appalachia and I can still hear those voices in my heart. There speech was of the same lilt as I have heard from old recordings from Appalachia. I have one cousin left and when he and I talk together I find that the disabilities reading teacher melts away and the lilt and the phrases gently slide back into place.
    Thank you. My roots are as comfortable as an old shoe.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Some words I haven’t heard but most old timey words I have heard used by my Grandparents. I know them well and when you or some of your readers mention them, they ring out in my head like music. I just remembered my Grandfather calling his cow “Suey ” and they used it for pigs too. The word brought a smile to my face. Heard all those expressions: Act a fool, Didn’t know him from Adam, Something took a holt of him, and I aim to do that today.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 22, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Tipper–Your readers might want to know that as of the moment I am writing this reply the book can be obtained with a 40% holiday discount which is still in effect and that includes free shipping. I just got off the phone ordering from UNC Press’ fulfillment service. Also, credit cards will not be charged until the book is actually available.

    Turning to Ron Stephens’ questions about the various iterations of the book, I think I can shed at least some light on what is a decidedly complicated issue. The title of the original work, the one you own and which is now so pricey, was “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.” It was published by the University of Tennessee Press. From the time it appeared onwards Montgomery was working on an expansion, on adding information from new research, and presumably extending his geographical coverage beyond the Smokies. I strongly suspect the original focus solely on the Smokies was because that had been the area Joseph Hall, who is rightly listed as the book’s co-author, did all his research.

    For reasons which I factually know in part, along with some surmising and what I guess you might call “inside” information, Montgomery and the University of Tennessee Press had a parting of the ways. Michael could be a prickly pear and UT Press likely didn’t help matters much in areas such as promotion and publicity. Anyway, they declined to publish any type of sequel.

    By that time Montgomery had an academic position at the University of South Carolina and through a really nice website set up through the institution he began promoting the new book with the “Regional English” title Ron mentions. He stated that the book was under contract with USC Press. However, at about this juncture things changed at USC Press, with a new director coming on board. Whether he cancelled the contract, or Montgomery did so, or something else happened, I don’t know.

    What I do know is that brother Don and I had fairly extensive e-mail exchanges with Jennifer Heinmiller as she valiantly sought to locate a publisher. She had been working closely with Montgomery and I gather he was a mentor to her as well. Clearly she persisted and UNC Press took the work in hand. That is where the new book, with a great deal of expansion both geographically and in general contents, comes into play. She may well have obtained some type of subvention (books of this type almost never make money–they are costly and because of specialized contents don’t sell a lot of copies) to help defray costs. At any rate, once “Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English” appears in June, there will be two books, not the three Ron was understandably led to believe might exist or be in the works.

    I know it’s complicated and I’m probably not 100 percent accurate. However, I have worked with all three presses–UT Press, USC Press, and UNC Press–on different books. Also, I exchanged numerous e-mails with Montgomery about his work. That translates to having at least some inside insight on the situation, and maybe this will help some.
    Jim Casada

    • Reply
      Ron Stephens
      January 22, 2021 at 1:12 pm

      Thank you Mr. Casada. What you wrote helps immensely I think. And I’m really glad your answer spared Tipper from looking into it.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Great post. So many many words and expressions come to my mind daily, and I try them out on my sis. Her mother in law was one of the most wonderful people I ever knew, and she would just roll those unique words and expressions out. One was that she made the dumplings without baking powder. She referred to them as “sad’ dumplings. Sis wondered if that had ever been mentioned on your blog. Sis does not read it due to too many grandkids, but she totally loves to discuss our unique language. I am known to use the a , and sometimes use it more than once in the same sentence. . For instance, might say, “That child is out there just a singing up a storm.”

    • Reply
      William J. Boone
      January 22, 2021 at 12:21 pm

      My grandmother put dumplings in bean, pea and lentil soup, slip dumplings in chicken or beef boiled potpie, big round dumplings with beef pot roast and gravy flavored with a whole bottle of her homemade ketchup, etc. After we began eating, she would invariably shake her head and say “Them dumplins are sad again” as if she had messed up. We would look at each other and smile because that’s exactly how we wanted them to be, thick and chewy rather airy and soft, and we knew she had purposely made them “sad”.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 22, 2021 at 10:21 am

    The Adam and Eve plant might be the twinleaf plant (Jeffersonia diphylla), but that is just a guess. I don’t know anything about its roots.

    I have a question for you. Am I right that there is a “Dictionary of Appalachian Regional English” (DARE) as distinct from the “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English”? And is the new one coming out something like a third edition of the DSME? I visited Michael Montgomery’s web site some time ago and got the impression that there were – if memory serves – two editiond at that time and each edition had a title change so it could be confusing to know just what version one might find to buy. And of course it should make a big difference in the price.

    Miss Cindy sure hit a home run in gifting you the DSME. It could not have gone to a better home. And through you two we readers are getting the good of it as well. When you read as you did today a hear echoes of my brother, my Dad and my Grandma, tantalizing sounds over on the edge of memory. When I hear that appalachian sound anywhere I think something like, “I do know you from Adam’s off ox.” Just like you did hearing that man down on the coast.

    One last thing. I expect the original (1700’s) and even the 1800’s way of saying things has been modified to today’s uses. Your example of “know from Adam” as a possible contraction of “from Adam’s off ox” or “Adam’s housecat” might show that. That is, the idea remains but its expression has varied. Of course that is a huge reason that language is so hard to pin down.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2021 at 10:03 am

    Enjoyed this as always. I appreciate your work.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2021 at 9:41 am

    I use the letter a in sentences when it’s not necessary and think nothing of it. I asked my grandson if he was going to go a hunting. He heard the a, I didn’t. I told him if he was a aiming to go out in the cold he needed to put more clothes on. The two of us had a little talk adder he started a critiquing the way I talk.
    My family uses the word at instead of to in a lot of sentences. I flew sick at my stomach and sent him over at the store to get me some medicine.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    January 22, 2021 at 9:14 am

    We were once at a tractor show in Arkansas and heard a man say, “I thought I was the onliest one here.” I looked at Cliff and said, “We’re in the south!”

  • Reply
    Roy Humphreys
    January 22, 2021 at 8:28 am

    On this side of the pond { UK ] abed was uced by my grand-parents in the 1940s most commonly in reply to questions about ones health when you were bad abed and worse up. Much of your vocabulary is also familiar.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2021 at 9:07 am

      Having the pleasure of working 10 weeks every year from 1999 to 2012 I initially was “afeared”
      I would have difficulties with conversations.
      But was pleasantly surprised at the similarities between Appilachin dialect and what I found in the UK.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    January 22, 2021 at 7:57 am

    I love Appalachian English. I am familiar with many of the words you covered today. In fact, I use any of them in daily conversations. I enjoy your blog very much.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    January 22, 2021 at 7:55 am

    Vocabulary uniquely Appalachian is an interesting topic. I think we would need such a dictionary to get all the old talk in one place so it’s a great idea. I think abide is a good word as well as account. There are many words unique to hillbillies. I had a child of mine try to high hat me a few times mocking the way I speak. Let’s just say their smart eleck attitude cost them more than I will pay. Have you ever seen a smart eleck learn much? I have not. I’ve always felt better educated and better spoken than most outsiders who think their high falooting is really special! I like to walk softly and carry a big stick while not tooting my own horn too much. Underestimation is fun!!! Humility is essential.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2021 at 9:10 am

      Toot your own horn. No one else will. Remember: ” He that tooteth not his own horn shall not have it tooted,”

      • Reply
        Alexis Mohr
        February 3, 2021 at 12:31 pm

        Hahaha! That’s very funny!

    • Reply
      January 22, 2021 at 2:59 pm

      I’ve heard my mama use the “Adam’s off ox” saying all my life. When I was little I’d mispronounce it as Adam’s all fox”. Haha.
      I have noticed you saying “ideal” for idea. In my southern childhood accent people would add an r to the end making it “idear”. I’ve lived in Kansas many more years than I did in the South, so my southern accent has mostly disappeared. But just get me talking to family members who still live there and that drawl comes back to me in no time.

      • Reply
        January 22, 2021 at 3:06 pm

        Linnie-I do say ideal! You can read about it here: Your pronunciation is so cute!

        • Reply
          Ed Ammons
          January 22, 2021 at 6:47 pm

          I hear ideal and idear.

          It’s not my idea and It’s not my ideal. Think about it. It’s really the same thought. The first version says I didn’t think of it. The second says it’s not my preference or I don’t consider it the best.

          Snot my idear! Now that’s just fun to say!

  • Reply
    Lewis Kearney
    January 22, 2021 at 7:54 am

    I bet this word is in there – – “ary” as in “Do you have ary a shovel?”

    • Reply
      Donna W
      January 22, 2021 at 9:17 am

      I bet you’re right. My north Missouri relatives used that word often. “Ain’t got ary a one.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 22, 2021 at 7:33 am

    Tip, I love our language and I love how we either create words or reshape existing words to best describe what we are trying to say. “He was no account” ” He was the most agravitatin thing I’ve ever seed” or “he’s the most agrivatinest man in the world”
    I think going through the dictionary will be great fun!

  • Reply
    January 22, 2021 at 6:58 am

    Another great YouTube session and topic, several of the words/expression are ones I’m not familiar with.
    “Abide” was one I had only heard in a movie ” The Big Lebowski” several years ago. Growing up when feeding the pigs or cows we always said “SueCow” or “Suey”. “A cause” I said so” was and is one I’ve heard in many differences of opinions.

    • Reply
      Donna W
      January 22, 2021 at 9:28 am

      I always called cows like my dad did: “Sookcalf”. I said it at the top of my lungs, I made it two syllables and three musical notes.

  • Reply
    Janis M Zeglen
    January 22, 2021 at 6:20 am

    I aim to listen to you from now on out!

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