Talkin’ Like a Mountaineer
I wrote in my tip about what I learned from Damon Runyon that a writer should only sprinkle in slang or words from a dialect. Since my book is set in West Virginia, I use words my West Virginian relatives speak. I use some of them myself, even though I grew up across the river in Ohio.
Just a note: If you are not from around Appalachia, you should understand there’s a difference between a Southern accent and an Appalachian one. In the book The Story of English, some experts consider the Appalachian accent a cross between Midwestern and Southern. The further south you travel in the Appalachian mountains, the more southern the accent becomes.
The words I list below may not be unique to West Virginia but they are not common in the Midwest where I grew up.
No account — no good, disreputable, unreliable. The farmer down the road was no account – he let his farm fall down to rack and ruin.
Lopper-jawed (I am guessing on the spelling) — to hang crookedly. The door to the abandoned house hung lopper-jawed.
heap sight (I am guessing on the spelling of “sight”) — a great amount. We had a heap sight more tomatoes this summer than last summer.
red up — clean up. We red up the house before our company comes.
fer piece — a long distance. My nearest neighbor is a fer piece down this road.
pert near — almost or close. “Pert” is short for “pretty”. When that dog lunged for me, it pert near scared the pants off me.
I will have some more Appalachian words and patterns of speech next Wednesday.