From Appalachian Magazine (hat tip: Funk Heritage Center):
Appalachian English: Why We Say “Warsh Rag” & “Low Tar”
The world that I knew as a kid was far different than that of most other children; however, at the time, I had no idea. I thought that every child had grandfathers who were coalminers, a father who bucket fed orphaned calves, a grandmother who spoke about Jesus as though she knew him personally and a mother who wasn’t above forcing her disobedient son to snap a green branch from the willow tree out in the front yard.
I grew up Appalachia and Appalachia was all I knew.
It was not until I reached the golden age of 18 and moved away to college in a distant city that I slowly began to realize just how unique and wonderful my life’s experiences had been compared to so many others.
My first day of living in a freshman dormitory, I evoked the laughter of the entire floor when I used the word “warsh rag” to describe the newly purchased wash cloths my mother had included in my bag of necessities.
In the world that I came to age in, that’s what they were called and that was the only thing they were called.
In the days, weeks and years that followed, I would one by one learn that the way we spoke as a child was far different than how most others talked.
To my astonishment, I discovered that a “mountain holler” was actually spelled an pronounced as “hollow”, I also faced criticism for pronouncing wire as “war”, fire as “far”, and tired as “tarred”.
Through the years, my classmates, teachers and employers have all attempted to either correct my pronunciations or berate me for speaking this way; however, I have since learned to be proud of my Appalachian-English and that there are many linguistic experts who have come to our defense in recent years.
Read the whole thing.
Speaking of the Funk, I’m looking forward to a presentation there this week:
“Archaeology of the Cherokee Heartland”
Join us this Thursday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. when we host Dr. Benjamin Steere of Western Carolina University. Dr. Steere, author of “The Archaeology of Houses and Households in the Native Southeast,” will introduce participants to the world of the prehistoric Cherokee who lived in the Southern Appalachians. Reserve your seat by calling (770) 720-5967. The cost is $10 (or $5 for members).