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!


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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. 


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

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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. 

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Appalachian Vocabulary Test 104

Words from Appalachia

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 then to stop them click on them again.

1. Marry off: to get married and leave your parents. "I never did want any of my girls to marry off and leave. I knew the life ahead of them would be tougher without me and their Poppa to look after'em."

2. Mast: a season's accumulation of fallen nuts, seeds, berries, etc. "The amount of mast produced each year is supposed to be an indicator of the severity of the coming winter."

3. Meadow muffin: cow dung. "I went traipsing through the yard in the dark and stepped right in a big old meadow muffin. Ole Jo's cows got out last night and left me a mess and half to clean up."

4. Meanness: mischief. "Granny said in the old days folks were too busy to get into much meaness. They stayed busy getting food and water and getting wood to stay warm in the winter."

5. Mend: to improve in health. "Granny is on the mend and I'm so thankful!"

All of this month's words are beyond common in my area of Appalachia except meadow muffin. I've never heard that one. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. at the Tractor Parade/Ag Day celebration - Hayesville NC and on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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The Appalachian Language = Music To My Ears

My life in appalachia off is anywhere but here

Anyone who reads the Blind Pig and The Acorn will quickly figure out I'm crazy in love with the unique colorful language of Appalachia. 

I've never been embarrassed about my accent, even when someone pointed it out in a critical or mocking way. Pap instilled the need to be who you are in myself and my brothers from an early age and I guess that's why I've never been bothered that I don't use correct English or that I say words different than most folks.

I think Appalachian accents are like lovely music. You don't hear them as often these days, even here in my area the accent has diminished somewhat.

There is something so comforting about the Appalachian accent to me. I'm sure folks from other areas fill the exact same way about the accent they're most familiar with. 

I used to sit at a reception desk at work. I greeted everyone who came in the door and directed them to the appropriate area in addition to answering the phone. One time a middle age man came in and after we spoke for a moment he headed on to complete the business he had come to take care of.

On his way out he stopped and asked me who I was-you know who I belonged to. He said "I can tell you're one of us. Who's your family?"

One might think the gentlemen was being exclusionary or rude by saying he could tell I was one of us. But he wasn't.

What he meant was that he had come into an intimidating sort of place in a pair of pointer overalls and that it was nice to hear my voice there. How do I know that? Because I've been in that very position before.

More than once I've found myself in a strange or frightening situation far from home and been comforted by the voice of someone talking that sounded like me. They might not have even been talking to me, but hearing that accent still gave me a feeling of a warm hug or a pat on the back.

Lonnie Dockery, who was a faithful Blind Pig reader until his death, once told me a story about being homesick and hearing a familiar voice.

Lonnie was in the Marines and he hadn't been home in good long time. He was flying from one place to another and was in an airport in California. He said he noticed a jar of sorghum syrup sticking out of another man's bag. Lonnie pointed at it and asked him if he liked syrup. Lonnie said in one of those small world ways it turned out the man was from the mountains of Appalachia too. Lonnie said hearing the man talk of syrup and home made him feel like he was back at his own home sitting at his mamma's kitchen table. 

One of the sweetest stories I've ever heard about the Appalachian accent was written by a fellow blogger back several years ago. 

This is what Jen had to say about the Appalachian accent:

My dad was proud to be a “hillbilly” from West Virginia and quite enjoyed referring to himself as such. He loved his native state and often spoke (in his southern drawl) of Appalachia’s rugged mountains and rivers (and cricks and hollers). Growing up (in Arizona and then Michigan), I never knew anyone else from West Virginia and hadn’t met my dad’s relatives. So I never made one particular connection – I had no idea he had an Appalachian accent.

I was about 22. My dad had already died (cancer), and I was on a college trip to rural Appalachia with Habitat for Humanity. We were deep in the hills of Tennessee, and an older local gentleman who was helping our crew stopped to ask me a question. That moment is still vivid in my memory, because out of his mouth seemed to come my dad’s voice. Only then did I have the revelation. My dad was not the only person to speak with his peculiar dialect – he was one of many and belonged to a people that I suddenly felt connected to.

I hope you've been fortunate enough to hear a good many Appalachian accents, and if you've never heard one then let me know and maybe I'll give you a call so you can hear mine!


p.s. Chitter is having a great sale over in her Stamey Creek Creations Etsy Shop. 25% off everything in the shop, no minimums and it even counts on the existing sale section as well! Go check it out! Christmas is just around the corner 🌲  

p.s.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA. 

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Fail Not

Fail Not

"When I was helping clean out my great-aunt's house after she died, we found an envelope with a lock of auburn hair in it. On the envelope, she had written, "my mother's hair." It was especially touching because her mother had died suddenly of the "apoplexy" when my aunt was 8 years old. There must have been something special about a lock or strand of hair.

I really loved the last two words in the not. I'm sure their life was hard with all the back-breaking work of living in 1870. But, what encouraging words. Fail not."

Donna Wilson King - January 2016


Since Donna left the comment above, I haven't been able to get the simple phrase out of my mind. 

Fail not.

When studying on the phrase the first thing that comes to mind is: don't fail! You know like: "Don't mess up." or "Do it exactly like it's supposed to be done and it will be right and if you don't it will be wrong."

The other thing that comes to mind, which is what I've been thinking about, is a hopefulness or a source of encouragement. Fail not: "I know you can do this and you will. or Fail not: "I know you will make it through to the other side and everything will be alright."

How could so much meaning be conveyed in such two little words?


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Finding A Place To Quit In Junaluska - Cherokee County NC

Alvin Yonce and Tipper - Junuluska - Cherokee Co - 2017

Alvin and Tipper - September 2017

A few days back I had the great good fortune to spend a little time with Albert Yonce. Albert is 95 years young and as you can see from the photo he's still spry as a young man. I can assure you he's pretty charming too. 

Albert told me he came from a family of long livers. He said his daddy lived to be 92 because he just couldn't find a good place to quit along the way.

Albert said his daddy was a logger and he moved the family all over Long Branch until he finally moved them to Junalusk'ie and the children told him they weren't moving again! His daddy was also an old time Baptist preacher who quoted long passages from the Bible right up until his death. 

Albert's family is famous for another thing besides longevity - growing Yonce Beans. If you missed my post about Yonce Beans you can go here to read it.

After that first year of growing the Yonce Bean we fell in love with it. We grew two plantings of the bean this year. The first planting produced at least four good pickings. The second planting didn't do as good and we only got one picking from them because it was during the driest part of the summer.

Alvin told me his grandpa was the first to have the bean seed that he knew of.

Five generations later, the family is still planting the Yonce Bean and saving the seed from year to year. And if you hadn't already guessed, Alvin is still growing the Yonce Bean and saving the seed for next year too. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA. 

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Harricun in Appalachia

hurricane noun
A variant forms harricane, harricun, herrycane
1942 Hall Phonetics 42 [harik'n].
1 A severe windstorm.
1834 Crockett Narrative 150 In the morning we concluded to go on with the boat to where a great harricane crossed the river, and blowed all the timber down into it. 1966 DARE = a destructive wind that blows straight (Cherokee NC). 1969 GSMNP-38:135 A windstorm, we called it the young hurricane. 1982 Powers and Hannah Cataloochee 421 He said that he wished they'd come a herrycane and blow the cranberry bushes out of the ground. 1995 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell, Shields).
2 A growth of cane or other plant in an area where trees were appar leveled in the past by violent windstorm.
1834 Crockett Narrative 151 We cut out, and moved up to the harricane, where we stop'd for the night 1918 Combs Word-list South 34 = a thicket of cane or other underbrush. 1996 Montgomery Coll. (Adams, Cardwell, Ledford); = also refers to laurel thicket (Ellis).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Pap said the word hurricane like the noted variation harricun. I've heard other old timers say it like that too. A man I worked with back in the day in Haywood County NC said it that way and now that I think about it he was about the same age as Pap. 

When The Deer Hunter and I were first married and still living with Pap and Granny harricun Opal screamed through our surrounding area. 

With all the talk of hurricanes during the last few weeks the subject of Opal's damage has come up more than once at work. One lady's husband works for the electric company, she said Opal was a 500 pole event for Blue Ridge EMC. Pap's power was off for several days after the storm and if I remember right it was in late September or early October. 

I'll never forget the first time I walked up the creek after Opal. The trees were just laid over in places like a giant pushed them as if they were weeds in his way. There wasn't nothing to hurt up there, but down in the settlements a lot of trees fell on houses, cars, and of course power lines. 

Our area isn't expecting a lot of damage this go around and I'm thankful. But my heart sure goes out to all the folks who have been in the path of the recent hurricanes. I send them all God Speed. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA. 

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Appalachian Vocabulary Test 103

Unusual words used in the south

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 then to stop them click on them again.

1. Lord's bread wagon: Thunder. "I hear the Lord's bread wagon a making its rounds. It'll rain before long."

2. Look for: to expect. "I look for her to come up here quarreling once she finds out, but there ain't nothing to be done about it now."

3. Little Noah: a heavy rain. "It come up a little Noah and washed the gravel plumb down to the pavement."

4. Like one thing: in unusual or exceptional fashion. "Chitter can play a fiddle like one thing!"

5. Line out: a leader sings or speaks a line of song before the others sing it. "I don't know remember the words to that one. Line it out for me and we'll give it a try. 

My thoughts about this month's words:

  • I've never heard anyone call thunder the Lord's bread wagon. Someone told me thunder was God moving his furniture around and I used to tell the girls that when they were little. I read that the reference to a bread wagon was used because thunder almost always brought rain for the crops which help make sure there'd be cornmeal and wheat for bread.
  • I've heard folks refer to a heavy rain as a little Noah, but no one in my family says it.
  • Look for and like one thing are beyond common in my area of Appalachia.
  • The technique of lining out a song was used back in the day when most folks couldn't read. It is also used in Shape Note Singing. Some of my favorite videos of Pap and Paul are the ones where Pap has to line out the words of the verses for Paul because he can't remember them. 

Hope you'll leave me a comment and let me know how you did on the test. 


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The Kudzu Man


The Kudzu Man

The Kudzu Man is dead asleep,
But soon he'll stir, and move his feet.
His skin will turn to green from brown,
As his fingers reach along the ground,
Down the hill and around the pond,
Under the fence and over the barn.

He shakes his head to see how he's paid,
Squirted with poison, cut with blades.
What kind of crime could make them so vexed?
He just loves sunshine and seeing what's next. 

written by Mike Norris


I hope you enjoyed Mike's great rhyme about kudzu as much as I did! When I think of kudzu my mind immediately goes to the Nantahala Gorge. The green vine drapes the trees along the roadside making it look like it's guarded by green giants.

Between here and the folk school there's a patch of kudzu growing in the towering trees. I've often wondered if it will ever reach Wilson Holler.

Mike also sent me a great link to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine. According to it kudzu isn't nearly as aggressive as what we've been led to believe, but I still don't think I want any of the stuff around my house. 

If you'd like to read more of Mike's Appalachian Rhymes check out his book Mommy Goose Rhymes from the Mountains. You can purchase it from The University Press of Kentucky


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