Saturday, September 17, 2011

Virginia Folk Speech #1

Blue Ridge Parkway near Fisher's Peak

I have been fascinated with the English language for years and especially the variations in regional dialects.  Sadly, since we are all exposed to so much media these days, regional differences are slowly fading away.   With this series of posts, I hope to preserve some of those differences.

Some of the words and sayings that I will be posting are from The Word Book of Virginia Folk Speech, 1899. Some will be sayings and words that I recall hearing and using.

"A"--Used before many words and it has the broad sound to it:
"Yes, you told me to it, so I'm a-doing it right now!"
"Don't get your knickers in such a twist, I'm a-coming right now!"
"I know that I have been putting it off, but I'm a-going to do it tomorrow."
"I'm a-running a tad late, but I will be there soon."
"The house is a-fire."

Abide  (verb)--endure, suffer.  "I just can't abide liver and onions."

Able (adj)--healthy.  "He is an able man, so he should be out working to support his family."

About (adv)--to be astir, be on the move; be attending to one's usual duties.  "It sure is good to be about after being so sick with pneumonia."

Above-board (adv)--Open, unconcealed.  "I don't mind doing business with him because he is always so above-board in his dealings."

Ache (verb)--to express intense desire, rather than pain.   "I am aching to move back to Meadows of Dan."

Agg (verb)--To raise a quarrel. I have also saw this spelled "egging".  "That fight broke out because he was just agging them on."

Aggravation (noun)--Provocation, irritation.  "Kimberly was a great aggravation to her mother when she was growing up."


  1. Don't forget the "fixing to" and "aiming to," both involving some sort of planning. Often the g was dropped. Sometimes these expressions had an a in front:
    "I'm a-fixin' to go to town."
    "Well, I'm aimin' to go too."

  2. I'm always aimin' to do somethin'. Somehow, I nev'r git round to it though. That is why my house is a disaster! :D

  3. Those are some great additions, Becky! Thank you!

  4. Hm. It seems to have eaten my comment. Crud.

    I use so many of these words--thanks to my Granny and Pawpaw.

    I'd like to add "reckon" to the list. I always say that instead of "I suppose". "I reckon I need to be getting to the store soon." Or, I might answer, "I reckon" if someone asks if I'm ready to do something or want to do something.

    I get teased quite a bit sometimes when I use some of my regional dialect around these parts. ;o)

  5. Hi Rach,
    I still use "reckon" all of the time. I currently work with two people from Florida and one from California. Because of them, I am learning more and more that some of the things that I say and the way that I say them are very unique! They tend to look at me like I am nuts half of the time! And, I LOVE it! Let's hear it for preserving regional differences in speech!

  6. I used to find it funny that my sophisticated English boyfriend used "reckon" the same way us hillbillies do!

  7. Leslie, I wonder if it is a common word usage in the UK?


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