In Appalachia We Like to Add ed to Words

Appalachian grammar usage adding ed to words

Sometimes we shorten words in Appalachia and sometimes we lengthen them. One way we make words longer is to add ed to them.

Ed is often added incorrectly to words to make the past tense and past participle of the words.

Here are a few examples:

  • I swear you've growed a foot since the last time I saw you!
  • The little rat has blowed on that whistle all day. I shoulda throwed it in the trash when he laid it down yesterday.
  • I had just started into Walmart when it fell a flood and I got drownded.

Would I use the words in the sentences above? You better believe it!

If I were writing, I'd likely use the correct tense of the words, but if I'm talking I'm going to say the sentences above exactly as they are written.


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 106

Southern sayings

It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I'm sharing a few videos to let you hear the words and phrases. To start the videos click on them and to stop them click on them again.

1. Nary: not one. "I bout broke my neck trying to carry it all outside. The house was full and not nary one offered to help!"

2. Natural born: having an inborn trait. "I'm telling you he was a natural born musician. Why he could play anything you handed him."

3. New ground: an area newly cleared for growing a garden. "I've run out of places to make new ground around my house. I guess that's what you get for living on the side of a mountain."

4. Nowheres: nowhere. "I can't find it anywhere! I've looked everywhere and it ain't nowheres to be seen."

5. Nubbin: an immature or small ear of corn. "This summer Granny planted corn in every spot she could in the yard and garden. None of it made more than nubbins."

All of this month's words are beyond common in my area of Appalachia. What about where you live?


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email

Big Cats, Bears, and Coyotes

Dorie Woman of the Mountains

One of my favorite books about living in Appalachia back in the day is Dorie Woman of the Mountains written by Florence Cope Bush. The book was first published in 1992 and has been published at least 7 times since then if not more. In the introduction Florence Cope Bush writes

"Dorie: Woman of the Mountains was not written with the idea that it would ever be published. I wrote it as a gift to my daughter, my mother, and myself. The manuscript was in my possession for fifteen years before a friend talked me into letting him publish two thousand copies in paperback for local distribution."

The book is a biography about Bush's mother, Dorie. The story spans the years between 1898 and 1942 and is set primarily in the Smoky Mountains.

Even though my life is drastically different than Dorie's I identify with the way she looked at her world. As part of my Thankful November I'm giving away a copy of the book so stick around till the end of this post to find out how to enter.


The only animals we have to take care of other than Ruby Sue are our chickens. The Deer Hunter built them a nice sturdy house that is totally enclosed in a large run. He even added doors on the backside of the house so we can get to the eggs without going inside the closed pen. My sister-n-law refers to it as the Chicken Condominium.

The chickens have a ramp that leads up to the house, which is on stilts so that they can get under it if it rains, although our chickens seem to prefer standing in torrential downpours for some reason! At the top of the ramp is a small door that latches on the outside. Once the chickens go in to roost at night, we go out and lock them in. Next morning we go out and unlatch the door so they can come out. 

The girls feed the chickens in the afternoon and check for eggs, but the unlocking and locking up of the chickens is The Deer Hunter's job, unless he's gone off hunting. When he's not here the putting up and letting out is left to us.

I try to remember to shut the door at dusky dark so that I don't have to go out in the pitch black, but sometimes there's no help but to go out in the dark and get it done.

In the last few months we've had a bear practically on the deck and two large coyotes near the back deck that didn't seem intimidated by The Deer Hunter nor his bright flashlight. These recent sightings have caused the girls to be reluctant to be the one who shuts the chickens in at night. 

Dorie's daughter faced a similar dilemma when she was sent to the spring house. 

"The mountains were beautiful. Cold, crystal springs cascaded down the slopes. We got our water from one several yards away from the house. Countless trips were made to it everyday. One evening at dusk, Wilma took a bucket and started for water. Unknown to her, the water had attracted something else too. Just above the spring, two golden eyes glared at her, watching every move. A wildcat crouched low to the ground, ready to spring when she came close enough. Wilma could feel the intensity of the gaze before she saw the cat. She froze for a second as the golden eyes narrowed. She dropped the bucket and ran toward the house. She didn't look back to see if the cat was coming. Her eyes were on the crossties. If she missed one and fell, the cat would be on her in a minute. The door flew open and a white-faced ghost of a child collapsed on the floor. Fred took his rifle and went back to the spring, but the cat was gone. "

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Dorie Woman of the Mountains. Giveaway ends Saturday November 18. 

The winner for Pap's cd Shepherd of my Soul is...Ron Banks who said: "Many thanks to all of our Veterans for their sacrifice to our country."

Ron send me your mailing address at and I'll send you some music!


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

He Didn't Say Pea Turkey - He Just Left!

He didn't say pea turkey

pea turkey noun A call for turkeys to eat; also in fig phr not say pea turkey = not say anything, the term expressing displeasure with another's lack of manners or breach of etiquette; somewhat milder than never say dog
1940 Haun Hawk's Done 63 All that bunch of starved chickens and turkeys started after me. I seed I might as well go back and feed them . . . . I was shucking away and calling the chickens at the same time, "Chickie, chickie - pea, turks, pea, pea, pea, pea" when all at once I took note that I had a red ear. 1976 Dwyer Southern Sayin's 9 never said pea turkey = never gave an invitation or offered information. 1997 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell); He got up and left without saying pea turkey (Ledford). 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Seems like I've heard someone say pea turkey to describe a person not saying anything about a certain subject, but I just can't quite think of who it was. I know I haven't heard the phrase very often.

I asked the girls if they knew what pea turkey meant. They both guessed it meant a little turkey. Who knows how they got that!


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

To Cross A Letter

Cross a letter

cross a letter - to write over and at right angles (136)
I notice you have acquired the very annoying habit of crossing your letters, which in these days of cheap postage and paper is very abominable. If you cross anymore of your letters to me I will neither read or answer them (Sept. 25, 1859 R. Goelet, Washington)

Tarheel Talk - by Norman E. Eliason


I was reminded of the quote above when I published the post about being ill last Saturday. I'd say he was most defiantly ill about the crossed letters he was receiving.


p.s. If you missed the hoopla-The Pressley Girls have their very first cd! Go here to get one!

Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

Don't be so ill!

Ill means hateful or in a bad mood

"You'd be ill too if you carried all your stuff down the mountain
in the cold and then your ride didn't show up!"

Ill adjective Of a person or an animal: Angry, vicious, harsh (esp in phr ill as a hornet); also used in compounds, as in ill-tempered
1886 Smith Southern Dialect 350 And there are still others which have not, so far as I know, the authority of Old English: ... ill (cross, vicious, "some rattle-snakes are iller'n others"). 1895 Edson and Fairchild Tenn Mts. 372 The cow is ill when she is pestered. 1917 Kephart Word-list 413 = ill-natured, vicious. "That feller's ill as hell." 1939 Hall Coll. Gatlinburg TN He was a awful ill teacher. (E. W. Dodgen) ibid. Tow String Creek NC we understand your ill way of talking. (Grady Mathis) ibid. White Oak NC "He's as ill as a hornet" [said of a person who's been on a drunk or had a bad night of an kind]. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I live with three people who can be ill as a hornet on occasion and I must admit I can be ill myself.  The use of the word ill in reference to someone who is in a bad mood or is grouchy is still alive and well in the Southern Highlands of Appalachia. 


p.s. If you missed the hoopla-The Pressley Girls have their very first cd! Go here to get one!

Subscribe for free to Blind Pig & The Acorn by Email

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 105

The way people talk in western nc

It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I'm sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words and phrases. To start the videos click on them and to stop them click on them again.

1. Mess: a collection or portion of meat or other food sufficient for a meal. "Summer is barely over and I'm wishing I had a mess of fresh beans from the garden to cook for supper."

2. Miseries: a general feeling of illness. "I went to visit a spell with her, but they met me at the door and said she'd took to bed with a case of the miseries."

3. Mostest: most. "I had the mostest fun on my recent trip to Kentucky to attend the annual SEOPA Conference."

4. Mouth: a hunting dog's distinctive voice. "Coon-hunters can hear the difference in each one of their dogs' mouths. From the deepest bay of the males to the light yip of the young dogs."

5. Mullygrubs: Ill temper; sulkiness; despondency. "Sometimes I get the mullygrubs and there ain't one reason in this world for me to have them!"

While I've heard all of this month's words used in my area of Appalachia, mullygrubs, miseries, and mouth in reference to a dog are not that common. In fact I'd go so far as to say those three will be gone if we don't teach them to some youngsters who'll add them to their daily speech. 


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email

Do You Need The Word Either?

Word usage in Appalachia either one or one

Way back when I was in college taking an Appalachian Studies class I was amazed when the teacher discussed the way we use the word one in place of either or either one. I just couldn't fathom that everyone in the US didn't use the word one in the same way folks in Appalachia did. And all these years later I still think maybe they do?

As I said, it was many years ago that I took the class and I can't remember exactly how the instructor discussed the matter. I figured if the usage really was common to Appalachia I'd find it in my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English and I did.

Here is what the dictionary had to say about it.

18.1 Postposed one. To identify alternatives, Smokies speakers employ not only or or either...or, but three forms that may be placed after the second of two alternative elements: either, either one, or simply one (the last is the most common) and that may coordinate different parts of speech or types of phrases, most often nouns. Despite formal similarity to the other usages, postposed one is most likely derived from the phrase one or the other. Related negative constructions that follow conjoined elements include neither and neither one

You never had any trouble out of them people, from Big Catalooch or Little Catalooch either.

It was just about as steep as a yoke cattle could go up or come down either one.

She found out how to get moonshine without making it or buying it either one.

He was in Tennessee or Kentucky one.

[Boneset is] bitterer than quinine, and hit'll kill ye or cure ye one.

I'm going home [and] see Emerts Cove or hell one before daylight.

They had [revival] meeting morning and evening or morning and night one all the time.

That hearing aid, it's either too high or too low one.

The first settlers come in here in the eighteen thirties or the forties one.

I was taught to respect elderly people, and we were to refer to them as aunt or uncle one, if they were old. 

They wouldn't run far. They'd set down and climb a tree or pick a fight one.

Soon it all died down and they never made mention of Meady nor Burt neither.

I didn't think about Eloyd nor Enzor neither one to be there. 


Things haven't changed since the dictionary was published, in my area of Appalachia one is still the most common usage. 

I was going to come up with my own sentences like: "They went to Hayesville or Murphy one." But I decided the sentence examples in the dictionary were better than any I could come up with.

The only problem is...I want to know the rest of the story that goes along with them.

I mean man he must have been gone from Emerts Cove for a long time to risk seeing hell to get there!

Pap said he was taught to call elderly people aunt and uncle when he was a boy too, I wish we still did that.

And what about those names! If I'd know about Eloyd or Enzor the girls might have have been walking around with those monikers today!


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email

Way Up In The Middle Of The Night

Way up in the middle of the night

The other morning Granny asked The Deer Hunter if he heard someone shooting way up in the middle of the night. He didn't hear it nor did Paul or I so I'm thinking Granny heard something she thought was a gunshot. Or then again, maybe we all slept through it leaving Granny to wonder about the shot. 

Anyway, my mind latched onto the way Granny described the time she heard the gunshot: way up in the middle of the night.

I've said those very same words to describe the exact time one of the girls called out to me because they were sick at night or to describe the time of night that I heard an unusual noise.

Not to long ago my unusual noise was a towering pine tree out on the ridge that finally succumbed to the beetle damage and fell during the night. I kept thinking someone was doing something with a piece of tin I guess it was the tree settling and sliding down the steep side of the ridge.  By morning I had forgotten about the noise until The Deer Hunter asked me "Did you hear that tree fall way up in the middle of the night?" See he says it too.

What exact time is way up in the middle of the night?

Even though I describe the time of night that way, it's still hard for me to say exactly when it is. For sure past midnight but before dawn is the best description I guess.

The phrase is so very typical of our lovely Appalachian language. Instead of saying during the night we feel the need to offer the information in a very descriptive detailed manner so that the listener knows exactly what we mean. 


Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email

Appalachian Sayings - All Vines And No Taters

All Vines and No Taters

all vines an' no taters
Used to describe something or someone very showy but of no substance. "He'll never amount to nothin'. He's all vines and no taters." Probably was suggested by sweet potatoes, which produce a lot of vines and, if grown incorrectly can yield few sweet potatoes. 

Mountain Range A Dictionary of Expressions from Appalachia to the Ozarks written by Robert Hendrickson


Lots of folks have been busy digging the last of their taters as they prepare for the coming winter. As I watched a couple along the roadside gather theirs I was reminded of the old saying all vines and no taters


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. at the JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

Subscribe for free to Blind Pig And The Acorn by Email