Have you ever been around someone who used the same word or words in every sentence? Years ago, I was introduced to a man who at the end of every sentence said and what not. I remember being obsessed with listening to him. I wanted to see if just once he wouldn't say and what not. It never happened. He said the phrase at the end of every sentence just like clock work.
A few other habitual sayings I've heard:
- you know
- you know what I'm saying
- now it'n it
- ah or uh
- the thing is
I'm sure you've heard some of the ones I mentioned, but sometimes folks habitually say things that aren't so common.
When Pap was growing up, Old Man Bud Baker lived over in the next holler. Pap said everyone loved Bud because he was a lot of fun to be around. Bud's habitual saying was si hell. Pap said no matter what Bud was telling or talking about he always started it with si hell.
Pap said one day Bud came around telling "Si hell I killed a rattlesnake that was 5 foot long yesterday." Pap's father, Wade, said he didn't really believe there were rattlesnakes that big. Bud answered back "Si hell I know it was cause I measured it."
Another elder from Pap's childhood named George was fond of saying now I hell at the beginning of his sentences. Actually Pap said George's entire family took up the habit of saying now I hell.
George lived at the head of Pinelog and one day a trader came to see him about buying a milk cow. The trader asked if the cow was a good milker and George told him "Now I hell she gives a waste of milk." Taking George's comment to mean the cow gave to much milk to use the trader bought the cow.
Didn't take long for the trader to figure out the cow wasn't a good milker. He soon came around to ask about the cow's lack of milk. George said "Now I hell I told you she gives a waste of milk. She gives enough to cream your coffee but not enough to make gravy!"
L.C. who was Pap's best friend was known for saying I tell you what at the start of his sentences.
After listening to the recording of Luke Bauserman interviewing me it's pretty obvious I've picked up the habit of saying you know.
Do you have a habitual saying or know someone who does?
courting = dating
sparking = dating
sweet on = means you like someone
he-ing and she-ing = hugging and kissing
slip off = elope
serenade or shivaree = a loud noisy celebration
occurring after a wedding
courts like a stick of wood = a person who is awkward
jump the broom = get married
took up = 2 people who start courting or move in together
going steady = serious dating
struck on = means you like someone
going with = dating
get hitched = get married
When I was young someone was always asking me if I was courting yet.
Granny and Pap slipped off from Granny Gazzie and got married without her knowing it.
Along with courting and slip off I still hear: took up, jump the broom, he-ing and she-ing, going with, struck on, and sweet on in my part of Appalachia. The others have faded away.
For more about courting in Appalachia-visit Dave Tabler's Appalachian History site.
I'm sure I left some courting sayings out-if you think of one leave it in a comment!
mingledy adjective Mingled in color.
1997 Montgomery Coll. (Adams, Bush, Cardwell, Norris, Oliver, Weaver).
Chatter got the prettiest mingledy scarf you ever seen from a friend about this time last year. I don't kow how she kept it hid from me, but I've already worn it to work twice since I found it in her closet about a month ago.
saucer noun, verb
B verb To pour (esp coffee) into a saucer to let it cool before drinking.
1981 Whitener Folk-ways 82 Mine's already been sassered and blowed. 1994-95 Montgomery Coll. (Ogle); He always sassers his coffee so it can be more comfortably drunk (Cardwell).
I remember my Great Aunt Pearl sitting at Granny Gazzie's kitchen table 'saucer and blowing' her tea. And I've seen Granny saucer and blow her coffee over the years when it was too hot for her. I never seen Pap use a saucer to cool his coffee, although he would often steal a piece of ice from someone's drink to cool it.
B.Ruth had this to say about the technique for cooling coffee:
Dad would sometimes dip his biscuit in his hot saucered coffee, maybe that helped cool it off somewhat. Mom just hated when he would saucer and blow his coffee and then slurp it from the saucer! Not that she was so refined, she said the only one left in her family that boiled coffee, saucer, blow and slurp was her aged grandmother before she passed! We finally got some of those green Fire King cups, so Momma's china cups and saucers went to the back of the cabinet! Oh the memories!
PinnacleCreek remembered this:
In those days coffee cups always came with a saucer, and I have seen them drink from the saucer. This was probably due to the coffee was actually boiling hot in those days. Even as a youngster nothing smelled quite as good as the aroma of coffee percolating on the stove.
Shirla said this:
Dad always saucered and blowed his strong black coffee. It was brewed on top of a coal stove and got extremely hot.
ncmountainwoman remembered this:
My grandpa took his coffee in a big white cup. His saucer was actually a small bowl. He poured the coffee from the cup into it and then sipped it piping hot.
Charles Fletcher said this:
Always did this while growing up and especially for the the time in the Army from 1942 --1946 using the Aluminum cups. I did a lot of HUFFING & PUFFING.
Suzi Phillips said this:
I still love JFG and I remember being SHOCKED to discover saucering and blowing were "ill mannered"!
Lois Tootle reminded me of this:
There was an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC in which Gomer asked a high ranking officer if he would like him to saucer and blow his coffee. The officer replied he hadn't heard that since he was a young man back home.
Garland Davis had a so much to say about saucering and blowing your coffee that he wrote a guest post for me a few years back.
Saucered and Blowed written by Garland Davis
I can remember my Granny Salmons, Mama, and various Aunts and Uncles pouring a cup of boiling hot coffee from the pot that sat on Granny’s wood cook stove. They would then pour a little into the saucer, blow on it and then sip it from the saucer. I also remember us kids being given highly sugared white coffee and pouring it into the saucer and blowing it.
I was in third grade where the teacher taught a weekly session on manners. I distinctly remember her saying that no ‘lady or gentleman’ poured their coffee or tea into the saucer. I was actually embarrassed for my family because of this method of drinking coffee. I stopped drinking from the saucer. After we moved from the wood cook stove to the electric range I don't recall anyone drinking coffee from the saucer.
It was many years later, while reading a novel by the late Robert Heinlein that I came across the term “Saucered and Blowed”. He explained that it was a custom inherited from the Danish, the Scots, the Germans, et. al. He said it grew from the early use of a shallow bowl or ‘saucer’ to drink tea’.
Our pioneer ancestors cooked with wood or coal as fuel. They boiled the coffee and served it boiling hot. One source that I read said, “My Granny served coffee so hot the only reason that it didn't catch fire was because it was wet.” Pouring the coffee into the saucer created a larger surface area and permitted the coffee to cool to drinking temperature quickly.
In many trades the term “Saucered and Blowed” has come to mean the completion of a job or the thorough study of a problem, as in, “That new manufacturing process is ‘saucered and blowed.’”
That about does it. This article is "Saucered and Blowed."
I hope you enjoyed all the comments and Garland's old post. If you have something to say about saucering and blowing coffee or tea I'd love to hear it-so please leave a comment.
B verb (also spark with) Esp of a man; to woo, court; hence sparking = courting. Cf. talk.
1859 Taliaferro Fisher's River 118 I sparked her a little that night, and told her I was a-gwine wiz her to meetin' next Sunday. 1935 Sheppard Cabins in Laurel 172 When he comes and takes her to the church-house and calls on her with presents of candy and Victrola records, they have advanced to the sparkin' stage. 1936 LAMSAS sparking (Madison Co NC, Swain Co NC). 1939 Hall Coll. Cades Cove TN We was small, both of us. They got to deviling us about sparking, you know, and Will says, "Now, boys, that's got to be cut out, deviling them children. They don't know what sparking is." (Aaron Swanninger) 1958 Newton Dialect Vocab spark (Happy Valley TN); spark with (Walland TN, Millers Cove TN). 1963 Edwards Gravel 36 There was some fascination about talking on the phone; and many a good spell of light sparkin was done on that phone in my dad's store. 1963 Medford Mt People 51 While the women never would encroach on the "men's" side, young men, when "sparking," would sometimes venture over to the "women's side" of the church or public meeting-place. 1974 GSMNP-51:13 If I could just get to read that letter, why I'd know how to start. We called it sparking then. 1993 Weaver Scotch-Irish Speech 16 Also, expressions such as "sparking" (dating), "Courting" (dating with serious intent), and "talking" (contemplating marriage), very distinct in meaning in West Virginia, were used interchangeably in the Carolinas.
The definition from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English reminds me of a memory I wish I would have asked Pap about.
I was probably 13 or 14 when it happened.
The pastor of our church was going to be preaching a revival and several folks in the church decided they'd go over to the other church one night and visit in support of the pastor.
I have no memory of the church's name. It was located way up in the mountains in Suches GA. It seemed like it took forever to get there. I remember the cars in our group lined up going round and round the curves climbing higher all the while.
The church was a really old one that hadn't been modernized over the years. I remember there were school desks sitting down near the front by the pulpit. Looking back I'm not sure if it's because they used that area for a Sunday school class or if that's just all the extra seating they had.
I set in the back row with one of my friends. Right away we scoped out the kids that were our age and one especially attractive young man who put you in the mind of a young Johnny Cash-flipped back black hair and all. Pap always set in the front of the church with the other men no matter if we were at our home church or if we were out visiting somewhere.
The church choir sang in a mighty way, they were really good. As soon as they were finished, the attractive young man came all the way to the back of the church and set down beside me.
After speaking a few words of welcome one of the pastors called for everyone to come to the altar and pray. Once the Amens had been said and folks begin to take to the benches I looked up to see Pap striding back through the church to where I was sitting. With not even a nod Pap took a seat on the other side of the attractive young man.
I was too puzzled to be embarrassed. I knew better than to ever cause trouble in church and besides that we'd barely been there 20 or 30 minutes and I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. As I set there pondering I decided it had to be the attractive young man that caused Pap to sit beside me in church for the first time since I was little enough to sit in his lap.
I meant to ask Pap why he came and set with us, but we were riding with a few other folks and I couldn't ask on the way home and in the way of life I quickly forgot about the handsome young man and Pap's unusual actions. It was sometime after Pap passed away that I remembered visiting the old church. If I had thought of it sooner I'd asked Pap how he knew the boy was trouble when that's the first time he ever laid eyes on him.
When I was growing up I rarely heard anyone talk about sparking or trying to spark. Since this is the month for love, I'll share some common Appalachian terms for dating with you one day next week.
"Doney-gal means sweetheart, an expression British sailors picked up in Spanish or Italian ports and preserved by backwoodsmen whose ancestors for two centuries never saw the tides."
-John Parris Roaming The Mountains
Doney-gal isn't a phrase I'm familiar with, I've never heard it, never even read it until I stumbled upon it in the book Roaming The Mountains.
Yet when I read the quote from Parris I immediately thought of the photo above. I snapped it a few years ago when the whole Blind Pig family was out for a winter hike. I love the image of the sunshine shinning its warmth on Chatter's sweet ear-the pieces of her hair halo-ing her head.
Chatter was born with the sweetest disposition of any one I have ever met. I'm not putting Chitter down in any way shape or form-Chatter just has a special sweetness about her that I've rarely seen. When she was just a toddler I started telling her I thought she had a special gift of sweetness.
One day I found Chatter crying in her bed. Alarmed that she would be crying all alone at such a young age I asked her what in the world was wrong. She looked up at me with her tear streaked chubby little cheeks and said "Momma I'm afraid I'm losing my special sweet gift because I've been mean." I grabbed her up, hugging her tightly, while I laughed and cried and did my best to explain that just because she had done something she shouldn't have didn't mean she had lost her sweet gift. I told her I was positive she'd never ever lose it and so far my prediction has been right.
Parris used the doney-gal quote in an article titled Mountain Idom Fading. In the years since he wrote the article I suppose the term has completely fallen away from the rich language of Appalachia-hence the reason I've never heard it.
I did a little googling around to see if I could find out any other details about the usage. I didn't find much, but I did find a traditional song credited as being from Appalachia that uses the term. The song is titled Wedding Dress. I couldn't find any historical information on it either.
The ultimate day for doney-gals is coming up quickly: Valentine's Day. Maybe we can make a come back of the usage by calling our own sweethearts-whether they be true sweethearts or simply sweet girls in our lives doney gals as part of our Valentine's wish to them.
If you'd like to hear the song I found go here: Allan Block and Martha Burns, "Wedding Dress Song."
On my last Appalachian Vocabulary Test Blind Pig Reader Ron Stephens asked if I might share the various sources I use as reference material for my writings.
The reference book I use most often for vocabulary tests and other dialect posts is the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. Michael Montgomery is the author of the dictionary. You can jump over to the book's website and read Montgomery's bonafides here. He's a pretty impressive man when it comes to language and dialect.
The dictionary website also has transcripts, articles, words, and a complete bibliography of the sources used for compiling the reference book. The website is really a fascinating place to poke around. The actually dictionary is magical! Well at least it is to me.
Miss Cindy gifted me with the book back when I first started the Blind Pig and The Acorn and the book has become a vital part of the blog. Unfortunately the dictionary is expensive.
If the University of Tennessee Press ever offers another printing of the book, I'm sure the price will come down. A few years ago I heard rumors of the dictionary being re-printed but nothing ever came of those rumors. Several months ago I heard the rumors again, but I still haven't heard any firm plans or dates for the re-print of the dictionary.
I'm also very fond of the Foxfire Books and magazine. Both are affordable, and the great folks at Foxfire are still publishing magazines and books.
A few other sources that I use for reference are:
- Appalachian Values by Loyal Jones
- John Parris - Roaming the Mountains, Mountain Bred, These Storied Mountains, My Mountain - My People, and Mountain Cooking
- Smoky Mountain Voices a Lexicon of Southern Appalachian Speech by Harold F. Farwell, Jr. and J. Karl Nicholas
- Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia by Anthony Cavender
- Mountain Born by Jean Boone Benfield
- More than Moonshine Appalachian Recipes and Recollections by Sidney Saylor Farr
- It's Not My Mountain Anymore by Barbara Taylor Woodall
- Southern Mountain Speech by Cratis D. Williams
- Frank C. Brown's Collections of North Carolina Folklore
- Cherokee County Historical Society Books
- Dorie Woman of the Mountains written by Florence Cope Bush
- Pap, Granny, and a few other folks
- Comments from Blind Pig Readers (The comments you leave on this blog are not only pleasing and entertaining, they are full of wisdom and knowledge about Appalachia.)
The most common definition for the word take is: lay hold of (something) with one's hands; reach for and hold.
But in Appalachia we use the word take in a few other ways as well.
- take a fit - "When she found out he'd bought that car without asking her she took one more fit! Why she carried on so I thought he's going to try and go get his money back."
- take after (looks/acts like) - "He takes after his daddy's family everyone of them has that pretty black curly hair."
- take and (to start) - "Take and wash the dirt off those taters so I can get them on for super." or "He took to drinking right after his wife died."
- take a notion (decide) - "The other day I took a notion to head off down to Gainesville GA. Didn't have no where to go particularly just felt like riding and looking.
- take off (run or leave) - "Onct I seen that bear I took off running fast as my legs would carry me!"
- take a shine (begin to like) - "I took a shine to The Deer Hunter the first time I laid eyes on him."
- take sick - "He took sick and left right after dinner." or "I hope I ain't about to take a sick headache but I feel like I am."
- take hold - "I told him, all he needed to do was to take hold of that mess and make it work. I knowed he'd come out on top if he did.
- take the baby (perform a c-section) - "Her labor wasn't doing nothing at all and they had to take the baby sometime after midnight."
- take in (another form of start)- "School always took in at 8:00 a.m. when I was going-now it's closer to 8:30 a.m. before they get all their ducks in a row."
- take up (join) - "She's took up with a little old boy from Andrews."
- take (succeed/establish) - "I tried starting some running cedar on the bank behind the house but it never did take."
- take (write) - "If you'll call them out I'll take them down."
- taken (deceived) - "She really got took by that scoundrel!"
I'm sure I left some uses of the word take out-hope you'll leave me a comment and tell me any you think of.
My post earlier this week about smoke following beauty reminded me of a few other old sayings about fire-things like:
- If you play in the fire you'll pee the bed tonight. (Years ago Pap was burning off a small garden area. One of the littlest cousins kept playing in the fire-Pap told him "If you don't quit playing in that fire you'll wet the bed tonight." Never missing a beat the little boy said "I'll be swimming tonight!" We all got a big laugh out of that.)
- Fight fire with fire. (I've heard this one my whole life-and I might have even said it once or twice-just maybe.)
- I've got too many irons in the fire. (I've said this one in the last few weeks.)
- Don't add fuel to the fire.
- Don't burn your bridges.
- Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
- Where there's smoke there's fire.
- Money burns a hole right through his pocket: (Yep that's The Deer Hunter.)
- If you play with fire you're going to get burnt: (I think this one is perfect common sense.)
- Burning your candle at both ends.
- Burning the midnight oil.
- That burns me up! (Makes me mad-well mad as fire!)
- I'm all fired up. (If you say this one you could be mad or just really excited about something.)
- I'll slap the fire right out of you.
- Liar liar pants on fire.
- Light a fire under someone. (This one is usually said like "She lit a fire under him and he finally got the work done.")
If you think of any other fire/burn sayings-hope you'll leave me a comment.
It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test.
I'm sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words. To start the videos, click on them and then to stop them click on them again.
Take it and see how you do!
1. Hell: a dense tangle of briers, laurel, etc. "I've always heard about laurel hells that hunters ventured into that were so thick that they didn't come out the other side for a good 2 weeks."
2. Het up: upset. "The Deer Hunter is always telling me not to get all het up about this or that."
3. High minded: haughty; arrogant. "He came in here all high minded like he knew more about my job than I did and tried to tell me what I ought to do different. Truth is he don't know his hind end from a hole in the ground!"
4. Hold to: to adhere; to accept; to conform to. "She said her grandpa was always one to hold to old Christmas and didn't go in much for the way we celebrate Christmas today."
5. Hope: wish. "I hope you well on your trip!" or "I hope you good luck with your job hunting."
All of this month's words and usages are common in my area of Appalachia except using hope for wish. Even though the hope usage in the example sentences isn't one I've heard, I like it! When you think about it hoping for someone or something is the same as wishing for them/it don't you think?
Please leave me a comment and let me know how you did on the test.