|Region||Southern United States, Appalachia|
Appalachia (in white) overlaid with dialect regions defined by the 2006 ANAE. Southern American English is the dominant dialect in the region.
Appalachian English is American English native to the Appalachian mountain region of the Eastern United States. Historically, the term Appalachian dialect refers to a local English variety of southern Appalachia, also known as Smoky Mountain English or Southern Mountain English in American linguistics. This variety is both influential upon and influenced by the Southern U.S. regional dialect, which has become predominant in central and southern Appalachia today, while a Western Pennsylvania regional dialect has become predominant in northern Appalachia, according to the 2006 Atlas of North American English (ANAE). The ANAE identifies the "Inland South,” a dialect sub-region in which the Southern U.S. dialect's defining vowel shift is the most developed, as centering squarely in southern Appalachia: namely, the cities of Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama; and Asheville, North Carolina. All Appalachian English is rhotic and characterized by distinct phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. It is mostly oral but its features are also sometimes represented in literary works.
Extensive research has been conducted since the 1930s to determine the origin of the Appalachian dialect. One popular theory is that the dialect is a preserved remnant of 16th-century (or "Elizabethan") English in isolation, though a far more accurate comparison would be to 18th-century (or "colonial") English. Regardless, the Appalachian dialect studied within the last century, like most dialects, actually shows a mix of both older and newer features, with particular Ulster Scots immigrant influences.
Appalachian English has long been a popular stereotype of Appalachians and is criticized both inside and outside the speaking area as an inferior dialect, which is often mistakenly attributed to supposed laziness, lack of education, or the region's relative isolation. American writers throughout the 20th century have used the dialect as the chosen speech of uneducated and unsophisticated characters, though research has largely disproven these stereotypes; however, due to such prejudice, the use of the Appalachian dialect is still often an impediment to educational and social advancement.
Along with these pejorative associations, there has been much debate as to whether Appalachian English constitutes a dialect separate from the American Southern regional dialect, as it shares many core components with it. Research reveals that Appalachian English also includes many grammatical components similar to those of the Midland regional dialect, as well as several unique grammatical, lexical, and phonological features of its own.
Research suggests that the Appalachian dialect is one of the most distinctive and divergent dialects within the United States.
The conjugation of the verb "to be" is different from that of standard English in several ways, and sometimes more than one form of the verb "to be" is acceptable in Appalachian English.
Divergence from standard English conjugation of the verb "to be" occurs with the highest frequency in the past tense, where grammatically plural subjects also take the singular form "was" rather than "were". Thus, the paradigm of the verb "to be" in Appalachian English more closely resembles the paradigm for other non-"be" verbs in English, where the past tense takes a single form, regardless of number or person.
The use of the word ain't is also one of the most salient features of this dialect. While "ain't" is used to some extent in most American English dialects, it is used with much greater frequency in the Appalachian dialect. Similarly, the phrase "it is" frequently appeared as "it are" in Appalachian English as late as the mid-twentieth century.
While the greatest amount of divergence in subject-verb concord occurs in the past tense of the verb 'to be', certain types of plural subjects have an effect on concord across various types of verbs. However, plural subjects continue to show the greatest frequency of non-concord. The example below is taken from Wolfram & Christian (1976:78):
Conjoined noun phrases:
Collective noun phrases:
Other plural noun phrases:
A notable feature of Appalachian English is the a-prefix which occurs with participle forms ending in -ing. This prefix is pronounced as a schwa [ə]. The a-prefix most commonly occurs with progressives, in both past and non-past tenses. For example, "My cousin had a little pony and we was a-ridin' it one day" Common contexts also include where the participle form functions as an adverbial complement, such as after movement verbs (come, go, take off) and with verbs of continuing or starting (keep, start, get to). Examples include "All of a sudden a bear come a-runnin'", and "He just kep' a-beggin'".
Phonological rules and restrictions apply to a-prefixing; for example, it can only occur with verbs accented on the initial syllable: a-fóllowin but not a-discóverin or a-retírin. Moreover, it cannot occur on –ing forms functioning as nouns or adjectives; the forms must function as verbs. Thus, sentences like the movie was a-charmin are ungrammatical. 'A' can only be a prefix of verbs or complements of verbs with –ing. However, the a-prefix may not be attached to a verb which begins with an unstressed syllable, such as discover or retire.
While much less frequent or productive, the a-prefix can also occur on participles ending in -ed, such as "a-haunted"
The a-prefix has been found to occur most frequently in more animated or vivid narratives, as a stylistic device.
Studies suggest that a-prefixing is more common with older speakers and might therefore disappear completely in a few years. Because of the considerable difference of a-prefixing frequency according to age (the frequency varied between 10% and 50%), Walt Wolfram (1976) supports the "(...) contention that a-prefixing is a phenomenon that is dying out in Appalachia".
A-prefixing can be traced back to the 16th century: The construction reached its height from 1500 to 1700 and developed out of using the preposition "on" and a verbal noun ending in -ing. Only used in formal and educated writing in the 17th century, it became nonstandard in the 18th century. Montgomery (2009) argues that a-prefixing developed from the preposition "an"/"on" in Early Middle English and suggests that it arose from the loss of the -n from "on" in examples like "hee set before his eyes king Henrie the eight with all his Lordes on hunting in his forrest at Windsore" (Thomas Nashe, "Unfortunate Traveller," 1594).
Some nouns are spoken in pairs, the first noun describing the seemingly redundant second noun, as in "hound dog", "Cadillac car", "widow woman", "toad frog", "biscuit bread", or "rifle gun".
"Them" is sometimes used in place of "those" as a demonstrative in both nominative and oblique constructions. Examples are "Them are the pants I want" and "Give me some of them crackers."
Oblique forms of the personal pronouns are used as nominative when more than one is used (cf. French moi et toi). For example, "Me and him are real good friends" instead of "He and I are really good friends." Accusative case personal pronouns are used as reflexives in situations which, in American English, do not typically demand them (e.g., "I'm gonna get me a haircut"). The -self/-selves forms are used almost exclusively as emphatics, and then often in non-standard forms (e.g., "the preacher hisself"). Second person pronouns are often retained as subjects in imperative sentences (e.g., "You go an' get you a cookie").
Plural pronouns can take the suffix -un, mentioned below, turning we, you, and they into we'uns, you'uns, and they'uns.
The possessive absolutive forms, Standard yours, his, hers, theirs, and ours appear as yourn, hisn, hern, theirn, and ourn. The possessive absolute form of "yinz/yunz/you'uns" is yournses.
In Appalachian English, the form 'liketa' functions as an adverb and occurs before the past form of a verb. 'Liketa' carries a meaning similar to "on the verge of" or "came so close that I really thought x would", where x is the subject of the verb. Coming from a compression of the phrase "likely to".
'Liketa' also imposes a notion of impossibility on the clause in which it appears, distinguishing it from the word 'almost'. For example, "They almost made it to the top of the mountain" is allowed but not "They liketa made it to the top of the mountain." 'Liketa' does not carry the same notion of partial truth as 'almost'.
Being part of the greater Southern United States, the dialect shares many of the same terms of the South. In its relation to south of the Midland, it has several terms in common with its North Midland counterpart, including poke (paper bag), hull (to shell), and blinds (shutters). Certain German-derived words such as smearcase (cottage cheese), however, are present in the North Midland dialect but absent in the Appalachian dialect.
The following is a list of words which occur in the Appalachian dialect. These words are not exclusive to the region, but tend to occur with greater frequency than in other English dialects:
Early theories regarding the origins of the Appalachian dialect tend to revolve around popular notions regarding the region's general isolation and the belief that the region is culturally static or homogenous. The tendency of Appalachian speakers to retain many aspects of their dialect for a generation or more after moving to large urban areas in the north and west suggests that Appalachian English is conservative rather than isolated.
Beliefs about Appalachia's isolation led to the early suggestion that the dialect was a surviving relic of long-forgotten forms of English. The most enduring of these early theories suggested that the Appalachian dialect was a remnant of Elizabethan English, a theory popularized by Berea College president William Goddell Frost in the late 1800s. However, while Shakespearean words occasionally appear in Appalachian speech (e.g., afeared), these occurrences are rare.
Examples of archaic phrases include the use of might could for might be able to, the use of "'un" with pronouns and adjectives (e.g., young'un), the use of "done" as a helping verb (e.g., we done finished it), and the use of words such as airish, brickle, swan, and bottom land all of which were common in Southern and Central England in 17th and 18th centuries. The use of double negatives wasn't uncommon in England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Similarly the use of "it are" in place of "it is" was common among the rural population of Southern England and the English region of the Midlands in the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s was correspondingly common amongst British colonists, in particular English colonists in the original thirteen colonies, usually pronounced as "it err". The phrase fell out of use in England sometime in the early 1800s, however it remained in use in the Appalachia region of North America until the mid-to-late twentieth century.
Similarly, the use of the "a-" prefix (e.g., "a-goin'" for "going") and the attachment of "-ed" to certain verbs (e.g., knowed), originated in South England. Some speech habits which can be traced back to the rural areas of northern and Central England include the h-retention (e.g., hit for it), the use of the word right in the place of very (e.g., right cold), and the presence of words such as yonder. Similarly the word "afeared" was common in Northern England and the Midlands throughout the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s, though fell out of use in the early 1800s when it was supplanted in literary English after 1700 by the word "afraid". The word was used frequently in the work of Shakespeare. In Appalachia the word simply remained in use and did not get completely supplanted by the word "afraid," unlike in most of the English-speaking world. Though the word "afeared" originates in northern England and throughout the region of England known as the Midlands, it is nonetheless incorrect to refer to the word "afeared" as "Elizabethan" because it was commonly used in England long after the Elizabethan era (including throughout the 1600s). In many older works of literature set in southern England, rural or poor characters demonstrate many of these speech habits. For example, in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the speech of the character Jerry Cruncher is distinguished by the frequent use of double negatives and the a- prefix, among other characteristics today associated with areas such as Appalachia.
Some pronunciation features reminiscent of those in lowland Scotland and Ulster can also be heard, such as the pin-pen merger and goose fronting, the Scotch-Irish and English settlers had a strong influence on the Appalachian dialect, linguistic analyses suggest that Appalachian English developed as a distinctive dialect among English-speaking people in North America. The Appalachian dialect retains a number of speech patterns found in Colonial American English but largely discarded in Standard speech, such as "r" intrusion (e.g., "warsh" for "wash") and a "y" sound in place of "a" on the end of certain words (e.g., "okry" for "okra"). The southern drawl is of an unknown American origin.
Native American influences in the Appalachian dialect are virtually nonexistent except for place names (e.g., "Appalachia", "Tennessee", "Chattahoochee River", "Cheoah Mountains"). While early settlers adopted numerous customs[which?] from tribes such as the Cherokee and Shawnee, they typically applied existing words from their own languages to those customs.
The traditional Appalachian dialect spread to the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. Ozark and Appalachian English have been documented together as a single Southern Mountain dialect of the United States.
Appalachian terms found in Ozark English include fireboard, tow sack, jarfly, and brickle and similar speech patterns also exist, such as epenthetic h (hit instead of it), the use of the "a-" prefix ("a-goin'" for "going"), and the d-stop in place of certain "z" sounds (e.g., "idn't" for "isn't"), all of which is seen in other dialects of older Southern American English. Studies have shown that Ozark English has more in common with the dialect of East Tennessee than with the dialect of West Tennessee or even Eastern Arkansas. Other distinctive features of Ozark English include phonological idiosyncrasies (many of which it shares with Appalachian English); certain syntactic patterns, such as the use of for to, rather than to, before infinitives in some constructions; and a number of lexical peculiarities.
The systematic study of linguistic boundaries in the United States has advanced, succeeding its inception in 1949. The systematic study of linguistic boundaries in the United States was established by Hans Kurath. Hans Kurath was an American linguist who is acknowledged for his role as chief editor of the Linguistic Atlas of New England. The Linguistic Atlas of New England was the earliest, complete linguistic atlas of a broad region. Furthermore, many of Hans Kurath's initial ideas about linguistic boundaries are under discussion in the modern-day. Appalachian English is one of the linguistic boundaries constructed by Hans Kurath. The origins of Appalachian English can be traced back to Scottish-Irish ancestors, and include unique grammatical and lexical differences Appalachian English can be found in the following states: West Virginia; Eastern Kentucky; North Carolina; Northwestern Georgia; Northern South Carolina; western Virginia; Alabama; and Tennessee. Notwithstanding, when it comes to determining its specific boundaries, some linguists believe that the boundaries should be fuzzy lines. These fuzzy lines should provide rough ideas of boundaries, rather than hard lines, because there is a lot of dialectic variety within these small areas that is often difficult to differentiate. The reality is a range of dialectic variants are commonplace in the Appalachian area of the country. Categorizing all of these different variants under one umbrella may actually further complicate the process of studying the variants of Appalachian speech. Appalachian English is thought to be the oldest form of English to date-including the Shakespearean dialect-which can be a factor contributing to the myth of the dialect being outdated.
In addition to the linguistic boundary debates, Appalachian English is surrounded by stereotypical views of the area and the people living in it. A sense of "Appalachianism" is positively correlated with a shortage in access to environmental influences. These environmental influences include the following: housing; schooling; employment; medical assistance; and money. Appalachian English is often viewed by outsiders as a dialect of uneducated people. Individuals from Appalachia tend to be perceived as low-income and lower class, regardless of the individual's actual situation. Historically, these ideas originated prior to the onset of the American Civil War. Appalachian stereotypes are damaging to natives of the area. Consequently, natives hide or modify their accent when visiting or moving to areas outside of Appalachia. This is done in fear of accent discrimination. Accent discrimination undermines intelligence and the character of an individual. Furthermore, easier access to social relations via the internet has expanded the quantity of negative beliefs associated with individuals from Appalachia. Despite all of the debates surrounding this dialect and whether or not its boundaries are legitimate and correct, to the people of Appalachia, their variety of English is central to their identities regardless of how it is seen by linguists, as well as outsiders. According to expert linguist Kirk Hazen, "Appalachia is the most misunderstood region in the nation". There are roles/portrayals of the language that have inspired it to be falsely associated with a stereotypical "hillbilly". Thus, creating misjudgments from non-Appalachians about the region.
a form of the older English phrase, "e'er a." The negative form is "nary" (not any), the AE pronunciation of the archaic "n'er a." Both are widely used in AE. When the word "one" follows, the "w" sound is dropped to form one word, "ary'ne" [pronunciation: AR-in]/"nary'ne" [pronunciation: NAR-in]. When the word "one" is emphasized, however, the "w" sound returns ("ary ONE"/"nary ONE"). Example: "Have ye got any money?" Reply: "NO, I hain't got nary penny. Have YOU [emphasized form of "ye"] got ary'ne?" Contrary to a widespread myth current among non-AE speakers, the word is not followed by the indefinite article (which in fact is built into it).
((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)