I suppose the most “authentic” and unaltered mountain-talk I’ve been around since moving north from Alabama was at an impromptu meal at the home of Ray Hicks, storyteller and along with the rest of his very gracious family, keepers of the language of the mountains.
But then, I guess I grew up with a double dose of language-baggage, being both southern and Appalachian. So most of the words and phrases in this article about Appalachian language seem commonplace, or at least familiar.
Makes me remember my AINT Sara who once when I was small offered my brother and I a glass of SWEET MILK. To our disappointment, it turned out to be only not-buttermilk.
Ann and I heard some terms only after moving to southwest Virginia in the mid-seventies, and it took us a while to KETCH on–like the first time some country neighbors asked if “YUNS wanna come ta dinner at AIR house directly?
Lots of older folks still DRAP the first letters of THAT and add an H to it and change words like ruined to RURNT and it all sounds quite normal to our ears now.
For those who don’t come from these mountains, if you heard such language from a visitor, would you think them simple and backward? Could you accept them as an intellectual equal? Is there any wonder that those who must make a living in the larger world outside the hills and hollers often abandon the “native tongue” now spoken by fewer and fewer until some day, our children’s children will only read about it, and listen to a few old WAV files and laugh.