What's Appalachian Twang?


So how do you say Appalachia? This week, our episode is about the many different accents, and pronunciations, of Appalachia. Many of those interviewed for the show said they have very strong feelings about pronunciation.

Inside Appalachia’s host Jessica Lilly found six known pronunciations of the word Appalachia. Yes, that’s right, six different ways to say it:

  1. Appa-LAT-cha
  2. Appalach-EE-a
  3. Appalay-CHEE-uh
  4. Appalay-SHUH
  5. Appala-shuh
  6. Appalay-SHE-ya

Appalachian Code Switching

Appalachian accents often come with a negative stereotype from some folks. Because of that stigma, many of us Appalachians “code switch.” Bluefield, Virginia native Chelyen Davis wrote about this on The Revivalist: Word from the Appalachian South. She talked about Appalachian accents and how sometimes our accent changes when we speak to mountain friends and when we talk in other settings.

Chelyen Davis lives in Richmond, Virginia now, but Inside Appalachia’s host Jessica Lilly caught up with her during a visit back home at her mother’s house in Bluefield, Virginia. Davis also writes her own blog called The Homesick Appalachian.

What’s in a Name?

Can you name the town in Virginia that has been referred to as “the magic city” of Wise County? We asked our intern, Jade Artherhults to do a little digging. She spoke with Anneke Ever, from Wise County, Virginia.

One Project Works to Map West Virginia’s Dialects

A professor of linguistics and English at WVU is working to map West Virginia’s dialects and accents.  Back in 2015, Kirk Hazen was in Wyoming County, collecting interviews from natives. Hazen and his students are working to map West Virginia’s dialects and accents, and he’s finding that just within West Virginia alone there’s a cornucopia of different ways of speaking.

Music in this episode was provided by Alan ‘CatHead’ Johnston, Ben Townsend, John Wyatt, Andy Agnew Jr., and Dog and Gun. Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition.

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