Breaking into "Sounding Appalachian"

This presentation presents a historical backdrop by comparing well-known features to a historical baseline as documented in The Phonetics of Great Smoky Mountains Speech by Joseph Sargent Hall. Hall described general tendencies and individual words as pronunciation in a six-county area along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Seventy-five years later, Hall’s work remains not just the only comprehensive account of the pronunciation of an Appalachian variety of English, but also the only such detailed account of an American variety of the language. Hall observed many speakers ranging from children to the elderly, which sometimes enabled him to detect pronunciations that were increasing or even new.

Any list of specific forms or groups of form would be somewhat arbitrary, because the list could easily be lengthened.

The features are:

1) Appalachia pronounced as Ap-a-LAT-cha (not noted in Hall).

2) merger of ten with tin, hem with him, etc. (Hall, 19).

3) pronunciation of /ai/ before voiceless consonants /p, t, k, f, s/ in pipe, fight, hike, wife, rice, etc. (Hall, 43).

4) vocalization of final /l/ in ball, boil, etc.; (no comment by Hall).

5) the so-called Southern Vowel Shift, in which fist sounds like feest (Hall, 15); feast like faced (Hall, 14), etc.

6) fronting of back vowels, so that toot and tote almost sound like tut and pool, pull, and pole almost sound alike and rhyme with gull (not observed by Hall, except Hall, 36)

7) fronting of vowel in judge and mud to approach jedge and med (Hall, 40)