June 15, 2013 Annual luncheon of the Montreat College Friends of the Library. Tommy Hays will be speaking about his novel The Pleasure Was Mine and previewing his upcoming What I Came to Tell You. Lunch at 12:00 noon in Gaither Fellowship Hall. $15.00 for lunch and speaker. Speaker only at 1:00 pm in adjacent Gaither Chapel $10.00. Annual dues: $15.00Reservations: 828-669-8012 Ext. 3502 or 3504See More
As the Twig is Bent, the original book in the Matt Davis Mystery Series by Joe Perrone Jr, is now available as an audio book from Audible.com and iTunes. Opening Day and Twice Bitten, the second…See More
I'm amazed at how speech shows a richer and richer vocabulary the more you go into its country. Not only southern mountain talk, but also the talk of Western North Carolina, and communities within WNC. Then, there are cross-currents of rich language--such as the talk of specialized occupations.
I'm reading "The Life of the Skies" by Jonathan Rosen. He talks about falling in love with birders' vocabulary--the range of descriptions of colors; the species names. The English name, "yellow-rumped warbler," focuses on a "colorful patch on its ass," whereas the Latin, Dendroica coronata, chooses to point out the bird's crown.
Yeah, that's right, the warbler-namers are scientists, and they can focus on an ass or a noggin without fear of seeming vulgar.
I just recently spoke with a teen who says vulgar is okay because the words are in the dictionary. I might have encouraged him to get more dictionaries and expand his vocabulary. But the real answer to his point is the question, "Where do you use common speech?" For instance, web blogs and forums are casual and smart; whereas, high school papers and grown-up board rooms are as formal as a urologist with test results.
Sometimes you can't be real or funny without vulgarities. I remember the joke in McCabe in Mrs Miller. An eagle swallowed a worm, flew up into the clouds, and worked the worm through its system. The worm's head poked out the eagle's other end. "Where am I?" the worm inquired. "10,000 feet above the ground," the eagle replied, which prompted the worm to gasp, "You wouldn't sh-t me now, would you?"
I'm not so impressed by dialects as I am language in general. My favorite word is naught, which means "nothing." The derivation is OE which was fathered by Old High Geman and most likely Welsh--since English and German had a little snuggle-tickle down yonder. The modern German term for nothing is nichts, where only a slight repositioning of the tongue changes the vowel. Just try it. Say naught and then pull your tongue back a little and hear what you get. All of this, of course, brings me to my fascination with "you'ns." In this state, I only hear you'ns from Morganton west. When I moved to Asheville, you'ns was everywhere--drove me nuts with the idiocy encapsulated by the sound of the word. But I soon learned that some of the settlers of this area came from southern England, where many counties' "ya'll" equivalent was "you ones" or "we ones--" to give or take clipped sounds--which is how we now have "you'ns." I'll still take ya'll over you'ns any day, and though America has embraced ya'll, I don't think they'll ever be ready for you'ns--especially since I don't know how to really spell it.
Jodi, “y’all” is not in the mountaineer’s lexicon. That’s a lowland southern word. You will never hear old-timers here say “y’all” in a serious manner. You’ll hear them say “you’uns” or “youns”/"yuns" (“you ones”), but never “y’all” unless they’re simply obliging the tourists. “Y’all” is a broad southern contraction of “YOU all” (with emphasis on “you”). Mountaineers do say, “You ALL are invited….”
When you hear someone say “y’all” around here, you know he is (1) a lowland southerner transplanted here, (2) a non-southerner who is trying to sound southern, (3) an older mountaineer who is simply obliging outlanders who want to hear it, or (4) a young mountaineer who has adopted broad southern speech and really doesn’t know the difference.
Southern Appalachian-speak is a subset of southern-speak, but southern is not necessarily Appalachian. Other distinct sub-sets of southern-speak are Cajun and Tex-Mex. Actually, Smoky Mountain English is a subset of Southern Appalachian, and many linguists think it has retained the oldest usage within the Appalachian range. Some linguists have even spent countless hours finding parallels with and vestiges of Elizabethan English.
You might like the DICTIONARY OF SMOKY MOUNTAIN ENGLISH collected by Michael B. Montgomery and Joseph S. Hall from extensive recordings and research of language in the WNC-ET region. It’s huge and expensive, but a fascinating reference for anyone who lives here. You can find it at local booksellers, Amazon, etc.