As an adult, I began to realize the uniqueness of the Appalachian culture and value the humor, imagery, and poetry of the language. A true Appalachian will use a simile, metaphor, or idiom in daily conversation to express the most mundane or common thoughts, spicing up the flow of conversation without planning or forethought. I catch myself using this pattern of speech daily, and am sorrowful for those who feel that they have “outgrown” the region, the speech, or their roots.
My first official notes about Appalachian language were for an Appalachian Studies class at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky in 1974. From there my interest grew.
Simply by listening and recording, I have attempted to document the sound and flow of this section of Appalachia, the values, beliefs, and thought processes expressed in everyday language through a cross section of ages, vocations, gender, ethnicities, and communities. Changes creep into any culture slowly but surely. It is my desire to preserve things that are in place at this point in time before they are “disremembered”. Every day I hear or say some unique phrase that I realize I don’t have included in this body of work. I’ve added many even in the last days of proofreading, but this work could go on for many more years. The time finally came for me to stop and hope that someone else will continue to record what they hear into the future.