Clean Of

Speak Like An Appalachian

Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2008. 

Back when I first shared the photos and phrases below, I had just finished reading Horace Kephart's Our Southern Highlanders. The phrases were examples he used in his chapter on dialect of the southern highlands of Appalachia. 

I'm fortunate to live in an area where I still get to hear the pharases as I go about my daily life. Please look through them and leave me a comment if you're familiar (or not) with the language usage.


It's starting to rain, better get the clothes off the line hadn't you? (Granny Gazzie in the photo)


Thursday week I'm going to take Mother to the Doctor. (Granny Gazzie and Granny in the photo)


I'd tell a man what for. (My grandfather Charlie Jenkins in the photo)


They went to Franklin or Hayesville one. (Miss Cindy's father-The Deer Hunter's Grandfather-Curtis Mease on the left side of the photo)


We're aimin to go to town. (Pap as a child, with his Mother and Father-Marie and Wade Wilson)


            She looks a sight like her Pap. (Chitter)


I better git on. (Miss Cindy's Mother-The Deer Hunter's Grandmother-Bonnie Mease in front of photo)


Be careful or you'll slide up. (Miss Cindy's father-The Deer Hunter's Grandfather-Curtis Mease) 


I'll be back directly. (Photo taken by Bonnie or Curtis-Miss Cindy's parents)


Don't much believe the sun'll shine today. (I don't know who they are-but the photo came from Miss Cindy's Grandmother. From the other photos of the couple-it looks like they are at the beach)


We just point blank got to fix it. (The Deer Hunter's Daddy-Papaw Tony serving in Panama)


Sit down and eat some supper. (Paul, The Deer Hunter, Chatter, Chitter, and me.)


Jake ain't much on courtin. (Jake Stiles and Pap's Mother-my Mamaw-Marie Wilson)



   When she fell, she stove up her arm. (Chatter)  


We had a good day, for we went on a picnic. (Miss Cindy's Mother-The Deer Hunter's Grandmother-Bonnie Mease.)

Don't forget to leave me a comment and let me know if you're familiar with the phrases. Honestly-I couldn't imagine life without them.


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My dad was visiting me last weekend, and he was describing how his ear infection made him feel "drunker than a coot'.

Dorothy-it was wonderful to meet you too! I hope you get to come back to the folk school sometime and we get to spend more time together : ) I interviewed Bob Dalsemer about the history of contra dancing one time-you can go here to read it:http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com/blind_pig_the_acorn/2010/03/the-74th-annual-mountain-folk-festival-berea-kentucky.html

Have a great day!!!


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

It was a pleasure to meet you and your darling daughters at the John C Campbell Folk School on Contra Dance Night. Luann introduced us. I had asked about the word 'contra' and I am wondering if it is a variation of the word "country".
I do enjoy reading your blogs and now I have a face to go with them.
Dorothy McCarver, Mt. Pleasant, TX

Gina-Ive heard folks around here say something was just giving it this too : )

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Thanks for adding the names, nice family!

Yep, have heard them all. I remember as children being so amazed at how differently the children from Franklin or Oil City, PA, just 50-60 miles down the road from us, talked. Then we had a cousin living in TN who was born in MS come to visit, and we couldn't understand nary a single thing he said. Thank God he was a patient boy. LOL

And by the way, I was thinking Chitter favored the first picture of Marie Wilson, I guess her great-grandmother.

God bless.


I don't hear these phrases much anymore, being transplanted in Central Florida, but the wording and cadence is so natural and comforting, from another time, and loved ones fading yonder. Thank you for keeping it all going.
Also, I've heard almost all of the phrases mentioned by others on here, including "up in under", but not "slide up".

Never heard "slide up". All the rest are very familiar. My Yankee friend had a fit the first time she heard herself say "Fixin to." I laughed like a coon hound.

I hear this way of talking everyday, seems normal to me. I get a kick out of the old pictures, especially the guys climbing the pole,, been there done that.. just not in Panama.. Don't do much climbing anymore, just once in a blue moon, last poles I had to climb was after the Tornadoes of 2011.

Tipper, Thanks for all you do to connect us to our Appalachian roots, even though mine go back a very long ways. I'm a fourth generation Oregonian, and family historian, but my great-great grandpa married in Washington county, Tennessee in 1830. And as near as we can figure, his people came from North Carolina. My family continues to use all the phrases you wrote about in today's blog, when we talk amongst ourselves, except for sliding up. I didn't know where all my family's expressions came from until I started reading your blog. You've been a blessing to all of us. Keep up the good work.

The only one you left out was "go on get". It is my favorite.

B.-that is Miss Cindy's mother, Bonnie Mease! She was a looker wasn't she : ) I went back and added all the names to the photos-I should have done that in the first place!

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Jim-the man on the left-not wearing a hat is Miss Cindy's father, Curtis Mease. I'm not sure who the other man is-but you're right both are snappy dressers : )

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Tipper--It seems pretty clear to me, Horace Kephart's 27-year sojourn in Swain County notwithstanding, that the phrase"slide up" is a rank stranger to those native to that county--when Don, Ed Ammons, and Bill B. all say they've never heard it, and I haven't either, it offers pretty sound anecdotal evidence to that effect.
All the rest of them were familiar to me, and if the fellow on the left leaning against a car with a buddy wearing a hat isn't Daddy as a young man, there's far more than a passing resemblance. Maybe Don supplied you a photo, and if not, I bet he noticed that as well. The fancy duds, lanky frame, and hair parted in the middle are all suggestive.

Jim Casada

Don't think I've heard the phrase
"slide up", but I have heard "it's
up in under there."
Back in the day, when I was going
to school, some of our teachers
tried to impress a more proper way
of speech. Bless their dear hearts,
they meant well I suppose, but that
issue didn't serve the people of
Appalachia with any meaning...Ken

Would you care to tell me the name of the lady in the last picture? She sure does look familiar! Was she from Mars Hill or Boone?
Thanks Tipper,
PS...She sure is pretty and got that spiffy look...I think I have seen one similar to it in our old family pictures...what year approximately was the picture taken?

All that sounds like conversation between The Mountain Woman and I at that supper table. Never slid up, though

"Monday week" has fell out of favor down here at the southern end of the Appalachian Trail except for a few die-hards like us; ending the sentence describing a choice with "one" is just flat out a habit with me. I have gotten a lot of funny looks from folks for the way I talk, but I figger that I'm not about to translate my words for them, they can just get educated and and come up to my standards.

Love the pix!

I always enjoy your posts about Appalachian phrases...I hear them every day from my friends and neighbors on our mountain. I often have to listen to the context to be sure I understand what is being said. Now, after living at the cabin for over a year, I find myself thinking with some of the dialect and phrases (though I don't speak them out loud for fear of not getting it right). I love living in the mountains, can't wait to be back!

Tipper-I guess because we live way up here where the Appalachia trail begins, that those are sayings that I grew up with except "slide up".I would hear "becareful or you might up tip." Another one,"the nights as black as the inside of a cow".

Heard 'em all. My mama always said "Watch out! You'll slide up!"
She also exclaimed, "I'll swanny, I don't know what I'm gonna do with that boy!" and my favorite "Git your best britches on. Their gonna make our picture."

Hit don't seem like I ever heerd slide on, but round here, things is always sliding up in under other things. The other day my friend and I were talking about an expression 'giving it this.' I once heard a cousin of my friend refer to her wriggling baby by saying she's just 'giving it this.' I still wonder if the phrase was a family one or a common one. Never thought of your other examples as anything but normal.

Have heard most, some made me think, enjoyed them all! Love the blog, thanks!

My sister has kept the language alive for sure ,with lines like:I had hardly turned my head,and she'd done clumb plumb atop the thing!And,We had the preacher for dinner.I cooked up a bait(?)of beans,a pone o'cornbread and some fat back!When she is happy,its 'proud'as in We was real proud to see Uncle Mack at church Sunday!I have many more,I love my mountain heritage!

I know all of them but sliding up. We would have said, you're gonna slip up and fall if you ain't careful. Like the Deer Hunter I have found things up under the couch too. Great post!

I still use most of them. I do not believe I was familiar with "slide up". Thanks for posting, Tipper.

This flat lander grew up with "falling down" and "falling up" the steps. I fulling understand both terms.
When my husband and I moved to Graham County 30 years ago, I experienced "sliding up" and still am overly cautious on wet rocks.

Tipper: when our North Carolina family came west they brought the language and the culture with them, and it still for the most is here today.some have lost their "tar".as my dad would say. my grandfather was a school teacher,so they got all the book learning they needed.they were home schooled after about the 3rd grade,and went to work in the mills. my father was the best speller i ever heard. best wishes k.o.h

I really enjoy your posts about "Appalachian speak". Makes me realize just how much of a hillbilly I really am. And that's a good thing!
Like PinnacleCreek I'm afraid the young'uns are straying from their heritage as their speach is being trained by television.
I've heard them all but "slide up". And like the Deer Hunter, I have plenty of stuff up in under my couch!

Oh boy did Don open hisself up to not knowing about "slide up"! Of course he never heerd it...he was too busy "slippy-slidin'" down the mountain on the wet maple leaves!

Heard them all but "slide up"! Have heard, He "slid plum up" to that big overhang rock in the curve last winter, 'bout ever time he come down the mountain to Grannys! His old rattletrap has more dents where-in hit kissed that old rock, til finally the ice worn down!

I have heard or used everyone single one of these phrases! :) I am very proud of the sayings and speech that I grew up with and wouldn't change it for nothing!

Great pictures Tipper, especially the ones of Granny Gazzie! She reminds me so much of my Granny Mandy. Proud to say I am familiar with all of the phrases!

Miss Cindy-Yes the airplane pic is from you as well : )

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Mike-The Deer Hunter had never heard slide up until he came to Brasstown. Over the years he has made fun of me more than once when I say "Be careful or you'll slide up." He says its impossible to slide up. I say "No whats impossible is for a ball to be 'up in unde'r a couch." 'Up in under' is a phrase he uses to explain an item being underneath something.

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Many familiar phrases that I heard often growing up in TN. I think my folks were a might more backwoods though for at our place we'd be there "dreckly", rather than directly, LOL. I love my homeland mountains and culture. Thanks again for helping preserve the mountain life.

I have for sure heard them all and often use them

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