Appalachian English is a mixture of old languages, and, as such, certain colloquialisms have often been used to illustrate that a distinct saying, a particular phrase, or a specific word derived from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, or Germany. How so? As most of us know, mountain geography keeps people who live here pretty much isolated and they have been for ages. Generations of a particular surname have existed in one area for centuries. To be sure, not all Appalachians within a cognomen stay in an area. Some venture out and find their own niche. Others are tired of venturing and come back home. Still others stay in the Appalachian towns where they were born. Given the remoteness of these Appalachian Mountains, it’s easy to pinpoint a particular name and trace an ancestor back to one of the aforementioned European countries. And, since the region is filled with various exemplars of mother tongues, one can also trace the word, phrase, or saying to those countries as well. Take the “complex demonstratives,”1) Rupp, Laura and Sali A. Tagliamonte (2017). This here town: evidence for the development of the English determiner system from a vernacular demonstrative construction in York English. English Language and Linguistics, 81-103.this here and them there and that there and those there. In their journal article, “This here town: evidence for the development of the English determiner system from a vernacular demonstrative construction in York English,” Laura Rupp and Sali A. Tagliamonte state in the footnotes:
The envisaged historical origin of the construction is supported by the fact that Appalachian English, spoken in the Appalachian Mountains in the east of the United States, is a conservative variety due to the geographic isolation of the area.
The word “conservative” is likely defined as “traditional,” or “old-fashioned.” The authors note the “earliest example cited in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from the late fourteenth century” and that these particular phrases came from Yorkshire. A linguist might take an Appalachian’s particular phrasing and work backward genealogically to find an origin or first usage.
From time to time, Appalachia Bare will produce Appalachian English quizzes (with phonetical spellings) as a fun way to test the reader’s knowledge about our old language. Take a look at our second quiz below (and, if you’d like, take our first quiz as well). Find out the answers on our next post!
** Featured Image Source: Unsplash by Kelly Sikkema
|Rupp, Laura and Sali A. Tagliamonte (2017). This here town: evidence for the development of the English determiner system from a vernacular demonstrative construction in York English. English Language and Linguistics, 81-103.