How to Speak Appalachian in Eight Easy Steps

Mar 29, 2017

Friends gather to talk on a porch in Appalachian North Carolina.
Credit West Virginia Public Broadcasting

People in Appalachia have one of the most unique dialects in America. On this classic Front Porch podcast, native speaker Rick Wilson teaches us eight ways to speak Appalachian.

1. Pronounce “pin” and “pen” the same

“They’re both ‘pins’ -  just deal with it,” Wilson says.

2. Unlike the deep South, pronounce your “r”

In fact, sometimes insert an “r” where it isn’t. (For example: “holler” for “hollow”.)

3. Use some colorful idioms

From Wilson’s father: “That looks like a dog’s ass sewed up with a log chain.”

From Wilson’s grandmother: “Pert nigh but not plumb” = Pretty near but not all the way there.

4. Use redundant pronouns

“Those people, they’re all crazy.” It's for emphasis.

5. Use the outdated “A-prefix” and "demonstrative them" mostly to kid around

Phrases like “I’m a-fixin’ to die" and "How you like them apples" are mostly for joking around and sound old-timey.

6. Proudly say the plural you - "y'all."

Appalachian speech even has the double plural you - "all y'all" - as in "All y'all better get off my porch right now."

7. NEVER say “I would reckon” or “I’d reckon.”

C’mon. It’s “I reckon.”

8. Double negatives are cool. If Spanish speakers can use them, so can you.

Use your new Appalachian accent to fool people into thinking you’re less intelligent and nicer than you really are.

Hear these tips and more about our Appalachian accents on The Front Porch podcast on iTunes or however you listen to podcasts.

An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available above.

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