You Can’t Judge an Appalachian by Their Speech

Mountain View

“So glad that you shot all of these videos. I enjoy your dad and Paul. I always enjoyed their concerts at the Old Courthouse in Blairsville. I have a story about one of those, when I was working sound one Friday night. Your dad spoke of course the language of our Appalachian ancestors. There was a family sitting at the back of the room, near the sound board. When he would say “you’ns” or something like that, they would look at each other and snicker. Then he introduced Paul, telling them that he was a respected educator, and went on to introduce his grandson, who was available to play, because he was home for the summer from Harvard, I believe it was. He spoke of you and the very successful website that you maintain. Those folks almost fell off the bench.”

— Ed Reed


Ed was wrong on the college, it was Yale. But Ed was beyond right on indicating Pap had a lot to be proud of—just like most Appalachians do whether they say you’ns or not.


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  • Reply
    March 24, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    I am who i am and love my heritage, language and where i lived all my life. Very proud!! O by the way Tipper, i fixed the soup and i liked it alot. God Bless!!!

  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    March 24, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains too and I’ve said youns most all my life. Even though I’m almost 74 years old the mountain accent still holds on tight to me. I’ve experienced some uppity know it alls too but they don’t really know it all. They just don’t realize how wonderful and deep our Appalachian roots run. I’m glad I was born a mountain girl in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. I wouldn’t trade my mountain heritage if i could.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 24, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Tipper,Many years ago when I went to work in Asheville at Alliance-Carolina Tool and Mold, there was a Greek guy that came to like me a lot. He talked alot about Canada. One night he came and got me, saying “Come over here juss a minute, juss to show you something.” After I got to his station where he worked, I learned quickly that he wanted me to explain the blueprint. He said, “hey Kenn, what the kell does this mean, S.P. I said ” that means it’s Support Pillows.” He said “oh”! Thanks Kenn. Actually he was real smart, he just didn’t understand Abbreviations. His name was Stelois Botulous or whatever, we just called him Steve.

    Alliance was run by a bunch of S.S. Troups, the head huncho was Rolph Snider, the best folks I ever worked for. I had just come out of School where I took a couple years of Advanced Blue Print Reading, near Lockheed Georgia. Frank Rumbo was my manager and he put in for me a Raise after I was there for a couple of weeks. Back then, I was Fast as Greesed Lightening, now, it takes me forever to do something, if I don’t forget what I’m doing. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 24, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    But I do judge Appalachians by their speech and maybe I shouldn’t. When I hear people talk the way I do I automatically think they are like me and most of them are. There are a few bad apples. When I hear people who talk like me try to bend their speech to fit the company they are in I think, “You’re just making a fool of yourself!” The same applies to an outsider trying to fit in with Appalachians speakers. It doesn’t work. If you are comfortable and confident with your words, you will get your point across and nobody will notice the nuances in your speech. Of course there will be snickers and giggles sometimes but they invariable come from those who are adept at exposing their ignorance.

  • Reply
    Darrell Keith Cook
    March 24, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    I have heard the use “you-uns.” Yes, that was common, but also a shorter version-“yuns.” Yuns come as often as ye can.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2020 at 10:52 am

    People make fun of us Texans too! Doesn’t bother me – I’m very proud of my drawl!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2020 at 10:42 am

    My daughter learned the hard way when she went to live in the city for a time. I think she must have gotten a very heavy dose of snobbery from coworkers at first because her speech was true Appalachian. That is until they had a serious workshop with much to learn and demonstrate. Not wanting to sound all “braggified” but she has always had total recall, and when looking at the written page she seems to have photographic memory. The result was she was having to explain many of the details to her coworkers, who were not catching on as easily. It all turned out well, and she made great friends, but I fear it steered her away from pride in her Appalachian heritage.

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    March 24, 2020 at 10:29 am

    I had a friend who graduated from a local college/university here in N Georgia. He grew up here and whenever he talked, there was no hiding where he was from. After graduation, he moved north and went to work with the now defunct Saturn division of GM. He used to talk about using his accent to his advantage. Some of his colleagues would hear him speak and automatically dismiss him as unintelligent. However, when the rubber would hit the road he left them standing in his dust as he received promotion after promotion continually moving up through the company.

    To me there is nothing more honest than an accent. And of course my favorite is one steeped in Appalachia.

    p.s. Whenever you read my comments, leave the “g” sound off the end of all the words endin’ in “ing” and you’ll hear a little of my Appalachia comin’ through!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2020 at 10:26 am

    I’ve heard our Northeast Mississippi hills described as ‘Foothills of the Appalachians’. We wear that with extreme pride & revere our Confederate ancestors. I once heard an animal physiology professor tell of a renowned equine physiologist @ a northeastern university who was an east Tennessee native. If they went out with a group to a club, after a few adult beverages he would go up & join the band, where he could play about any instrument there. You can take the boy out of Appalachia, but not Appalachia out of the boy.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    March 24, 2020 at 10:07 am

    I’ve been reading the novel Songbirds & Stray Dogs. Meagan Lucas, whose from Canada, does a great job of catching the rhythm of Appalachian speech without using those weird fake “hillbilly” dialects people use. I said on Twitter a few days ago, there’s music in our talk, not ignorance. I love our talk.

    Nothing makes me more happy than to go home and my Dad has the grill fired up. I ask my mom “Whose all coming?” and she says “Just us’uns.” That’s plenty for me!

    Hoping you’uns are all hunkered down and healthy.

  • Reply
    Dan O’Connor
    March 24, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs and at that time it was actually very rural just a short distance away. In high school in sports we competed with schools from all over and the rural ones had a country dialect and seemed backwards to us. As a young, ignorant kid I had no understanding of real knowledge and considered them less educated. I later went to college at Va Tech and it was an explosion of diversity for me, this was in the early 70s. I met people from all over the country and from rural America. My world view was totally changed. Some of the smarted people I met had that country dialect, my wife is one of those.

    Prejudice is ignorance, diversity makes for a better world.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2020 at 9:36 am

    Unfortunately, there is always going to be the person who shows “their ignorance” by labeling other people. I always looked at my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., as I heard my Aunt remark, they are the “salt of the earth.” When I was a little girl visiting my grandparents in the hot steamy South, they would let me walk across the road to a tiny store to get a push-up. Ice cream on a stick. When I entered the tiny store the owner looked up and said, “there is that little Yankee.” As young as I was, I remember it made me as mad as a wet hen! I considered myself as southern as my family. Now living in the North I find my wonderful neighbors, that I love dearly, hear me talk and say I’m a southern lady. I love my family’s expressions of “ya all,” but I’m sure some dear lady up in Maine loves her family’s expressions too, I just don’t like it being equated with education. I think Ron expressed it quite well.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2020 at 9:15 am

    It sounds like Pap put those ignorant people in their place! The story about Pap reminds me of an interview I saw with Loretta Lynn a long time ago on a late night talk show. The snickering started when she said something about someone should be ashamed of hisself. What the host didn’t know was that she was about to buy a whole town in Tennessee.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    March 24, 2020 at 8:47 am

    It’s like the old adage and song. You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover. One of the smartest men I ever knew had a heavy Appalachian E.KY. accent. Some of the other men we worked with from other parts of the country didn’t like the way he talked but they learned he was smart.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 24, 2020 at 8:14 am

    It mystifies me how some folks don’t understand that what they say and do reveals themselves all the time. There seems to be a quirk in our nature that has us believe what we say about others is all about them and not at all about us. It makes me want to gift people a mirror but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t get it. If someone runs others down while they are with you, you have reason to think they will run you down when they are with others. With the good Lord’s help I hope to learn how to behave before I die but I am a slow student I reckon.

    Once I get over my first aggravation, it gets kinda funny that us Appalachianers should be so underestimated. I’d rather have a good spirit about me than to have all the praise the world has.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now folks.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 24, 2020 at 7:55 am

    There was a guy I worked with who would occasionally say to me “Cindy, your country is showing.” In response I would say “Neil, your yankee is showing.” Neil was from upstate New York… now which one of us do you think sounded more out of place in a Western North Carolina town!

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