Living in the melting pot that is Atlanta, I miss regularly hearing the “mountain talk” of home, which is Northeast Tennessee. I love it when I am talking to my children and some mountain slang or a good old-fashioned Southern saying comes out of my mouth. Sometimes they understand and the conversation continues without missing a beat, and other times they look at me in confusion.
For example, one afternoon, the kids were treated to some ice cream. After taking a few bites, I asked them, “Is it any count?” They looked at me, puzzled, and one of them finally said, “We don’t know what you are talking about.” This indicates to me that I need to do a better job of teaching them Appalachian expressions!
Here are just a few examples that I remember hearing my grandparents and/or mother use regularly:
Chilly, breezy, windy, nippy. My mom used to describe the weather as “airish” when there was a chill in the air.
Soon. In a little while.
Example: “I’ll be down there directly.”
A soft drink. Soda, such as Coke, Pepsi, etc. This is another one that my grandparents used regularly. When I hear this word, I think of my Granddaddy. He drank his dope in a glass bottle with peanuts at the bottom.
Fair to middlin’
Decent. OK. Average.
Example: “How’re you doin’ today?” “Fair to middlin’.”
Preparing or getting ready to do something.
Example: “I am fixin’ to go to town.”
A lot. Numerous. An arbitrary “number,” sometimes used sarcastically, indicating too much or too many. When I hear this one, I hear my mom’s voice.
“Is it any count?” or “That ain’t no count.”
“Is it any good?” or “That’s of little to no worth.” An expression regarding the value of something.
A paper bag, usually brown. I fondly recall both my grandparents on my mother’s side using this term, and I can still hear their voices in my head when I think of this word.
Somewhere. Once my husband asked me where my purse was, and out of nowhere I said, “It’s around here summers.” I didn’t normally use that expression, but he knew exactly what I meant.
These are just a few examples—I am sure there are plenty more. I enjoy hearing them pop up in my vocabulary from time to time, and also in conversations with people from back home. I hope to familiarize my children with them as well. What are some of your favorite expressions from Appalachia?