We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Talking Appalachian

Voice, Identity, and Community

edited by Amy D. Clark and Nancy M. Hayward

Publication Year: 2013

Tradition, community, and pride are fundamental aspects of the history of Appalachia, and the language of the region is a living testament to its rich heritage. Despite the persistence of unflattering stereotypes and cultural discrimination associated with their style of speech, Appalachians have organized to preserve regional dialects -- complex forms of English peppered with words, phrases, and pronunciations unique to the area and its people. Talking Appalachian examines these distinctive speech varieties and emphasizes their role in expressing local history and promoting a shared identity. Beginning with a historical and geographical overview of the region that analyzes the origins of its dialects, this volume features detailed research and local case studies investigating their use. The contributors explore a variety of subjects, including the success of African American Appalachian English and southern Appalachian English speakers in professional and corporate positions. In addition, editors Amy D. Clark and Nancy M. Hayward provide excerpts from essays, poetry, short fiction, and novels to illustrate usage. With contributions from well-known authors such as George Ella Lyon and Silas House, this balanced collection is the most comprehensive, accessible study of Appalachian language available today.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (3.7 MB)
pp. c-ii

TItle Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (78.0 KB)
p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (44.4 KB)
p. iv-iv


pdf iconDownload PDF (59.6 KB)
pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (68.5 KB)
pp. vii-x

As editors, we came to this book with personal histories in Appalachia and keen interests in language. To clarify why we are so passionate about this topic, we offer our stories....

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.8 MB)
pp. 1-22

To every person who has asked us why Appalachians sound like hill-billies, to every teacher who corrected us for taking our home voices to school, and to every misguided individual who has described Appalachian speech varieties as “bad,” “incorrect,” or “improper,” this book is Like the borders of Appalachia, its dialects are difficult to define, and ...

Part I: Varieties, Education, and Power in Appalachia

pdf iconDownload PDF (18.1 KB)
pp. 23-24

read more

The Historical Background and Nature of the Englishes of Appalachia

pdf iconDownload PDF (257.0 KB)
pp. 25-53

The historical background of the English language in Appalachia and its ongoing change reveal a heritage shared across the region in many ways today. Yet at the same time these fundamental realities fully justify the plural designation Appalachian Englishes, to indicate its diversity. The overarching label Appalachian can be useful to make qualified general-...

read more

The Appalachian Range

pdf iconDownload PDF (313.3 KB)
pp. 54-69

Consider the following scene from the TV show The Golden Girls:
Dorothy: Ma, what are you doing?
Sophia: Getting ready. There’s a hurricane a-coming!
Dorothy: A-coming?
Sophia: Yes. People only use the a- if a really big storm is a-coming or a-brewing.
Dorothy: Look, Ma, I don’t mean to be a-criticizing you.
Sophia: Don’t you patronize me!
Dorothy: I’m not patronizing you. I’m a-mocking you!1 ...

read more

Think Locally

pdf iconDownload PDF (122.8 KB)
pp. 70-80

Those who study Appalachian Englishes—dialectologists, folklorists, sociolinguists, historians, and geographers especially—have long been interested in Appalachian dialects for reasons important to their own disciplines. To these people, Appalachian English (AE) has represented, among other things, a uniquely situated dialect, a remnant of an archaic ...

read more

African American Speech in Southern Appalachia

pdf iconDownload PDF (724.1 KB)
pp. 81-93

Despite their invisibility in traditional portraits of Appalachia, African Americans have been a part of southern Appalachian culture since the eighteenth century. In fact, nearly 10 percent of the population of the Mountain South is African American.1 Even though the black population was much less dense than in the lowland, plantation South, ...

read more

Dialect and Education in Appalachia

pdf iconDownload PDF (220.8 KB)
pp. 94-109

Language, perhaps more than any other discipline, is fundamental to all academic pursuits. Other disciplines assume students’ proficiency in academic language, while English or language arts classes typically do not assume an ability in math or physics. Because language is assumed to be a part of a person’s overall ability, it is ...

read more

Voices in the Appalachian Classroom

pdf iconDownload PDF (155.9 KB)
pp. 110-124

As a native of central Appalachia, I grew up in a multigeneration family with homes spread throughout a holler in far southwestern Virginia. There, a “story” ranges from a Jack tale to a homey anecdote to juicy gos-sip, and the telling is as important as the details. My family told stories as they graded tobacco, put up vegetables from the garden, and rested on ...

read more

Silence, Voice, and Identity among Appalachian College Women

pdf iconDownload PDF (159.8 KB)
pp. 125-140

Like the contributors whose stories of language prejudice appear in part II of this volume, the nontraditional students from eastern Kentucky who took my composition classes in the early 1990s experienced discrimination on the basis of their gender and their dialect, and this figured strongly in their identities. These women were the subject of my ...

read more

Language and Power

pdf iconDownload PDF (203.8 KB)
pp. 141-162

My point of view toward language is different from that of the other contributors to part I, so I must use some space to describe these differences and their influence on the study of language and power relationships in coalfield Appalachian speech. This perspective asserts that languages, whether spoken or written down in some way, should be viewed as always ...

read more

The Treatment of Dialect in Appalachian Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF (187.8 KB)
pp. 163-182

Stereotypes about Appalachian culture and Appalachian English have been around so long that it is hard to imagine a time when they did not exist, a time before there was even a distinctive variety of English in the region. Dialectologists, linguistic geographers, lexicographers, and sociolinguists have added considerably to our knowledge of Appalachian ...

Part II: Voices from Appalachia

pdf iconDownload PDF (18.5 KB)
pp. 183-184

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (93.9 KB)
pp. 185-192

Early in “Song of Myself ” Walt Whitman declares that he is “one of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same” and then gives us fourteen long lines of places and ways of life, from the “Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn” to the fishermen “off Newfoundland, / at home in the fleet of iceboats.” He concludes the catalogue ...

read more

Silas House

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.9 KB)
pp. 193-204

I am twelve. The teacher’s pet. I often get to lead the class in the Pledge of Allegiance, I am the first called on when I put up my hand, I have been personally selected by Mrs. Black to write the class play about FDR.
But today Mrs. Black is absent, and we have a substitute. Sour, sullen, angry for no good reason, although in retrospect I think it may have been ...

read more

Southern Exposure

pdf iconDownload PDF (68.2 KB)
pp. 205-208

I have always known I have a strong southern accent but hadn’t focused on it in a while until recently, when a well-meaning (though northern) friend told me she thought that I ought to take speech lessons.
“What for?” I asked. ...

read more

Jane Hicks

pdf iconDownload PDF (78.5 KB)
pp. 209-214

“I reckon poor old Tyler Farrar expected a better day. They’re crashing everywhere, the whole field is blocked.”
On paper, this sounds like Darrell Waltrip commentary on a NASCAR race. On television, uttered with a British accent, it becomes quite something else. These are the words of Phil Liggett MBE (as in Sir Phil...

read more

Carrie Bishop

pdf iconDownload PDF (75.2 KB)
pp. 215-218

I had a dream the night Miles came home from Berea. I dreamed one of Flora’s quilts hung on the clothesline to dry. It was the double wedding band, neverending loops of purple and red on white backing, paths ...

read more

The High Sheriff

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.7 KB)
pp. 219-225

There had been trouble in the upper part of the county at a honky-tonk called The Borderline, and Bobby had come by the house because he didn’t want to go up there alone. I couldn’t blame him. One badge, especially a deputy’s badge, might not be enough. It was a rough clientele,...

read more

Ezra's Journal and Andrew Nettles

pdf iconDownload PDF (82.7 KB)
pp. 226-230

Dec. 12, 1918. I wish I was back at fort Lee. Everybody was sad about me going in the Army and some fellows I talked to said I was heading straight to hell. But I kind of like it. I got to know some fine people there. The food wasn’t bad, they had some fine weapons. I even liked the training, the...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (136.5 KB)
pp. 231-244

Turn left where Otha’s one-room store used to be and the poplars get thicker, drive past Mt. Zion Baptist Church and across the concrete bridge and on up the holler. You’ll be able to see Green River if you stretch your neck but don’t expect something out of a picture book. It’s brown, plumb...

Spell Check

pdf iconDownload PDF (39.2 KB)
pp. 245-246


pdf iconDownload PDF (35.0 KB)
pp. 247-248


pdf iconDownload PDF (85.0 KB)
pp. 249-254


pdf iconDownload PDF (48.0 KB)
pp. 255-256


pdf iconDownload PDF (93.8 KB)
pp. 257-264

E-ISBN-13: 9780813141589
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813140964

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013