Language Lessons

Language Lessons November 29, 2010

I’ve been at work on a novel. If all goes according to my plan that novel will be out sometime late next year.  But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done yet in order for that to happen. The first of which is I’m going to have to teach all of you a new language.

And while it is true that I studied Latin for two grueling years, the only thing I learned was Gaul est en Europa and I already knew that France was in Europe long before I wasted all that time in Latin class. Of course the best thing about Latin were the Toga parties. But rest assured, I’m not going to be teaching you Latin. Or Spanish. Nope. Not German. Or Hebrew. Though Tim could manage the later three with ease.

The thing is I only know two languages — English and Hillbilly.

It’s the latter one I’m going to be working on teaching you. Well, I call it Hillbilly language but the dictionary actually refers to it as Smoky Mountain English. That’s just a high flutin way of saying Hillbilly but you know how uppity educated folks can be about this sort of thing.

We’re going to have some fun learning Hillbilly-speak and I want you to feel free to share stories of your own here.

One of my dearest friends Gordon Wofford came from the Cumberland Gap area of Tennessee. Gordon spoke Smoky Mountain English better than anyone I’ve ever met. Gordon used to call me nearly every morning and tell me stories. Sometimes I’d just open up my computer and write those stories down. Sometimes I’d just write out the words he was saying. Some of Gordon is in that novel I’ve been at work on. Gordon passed away much too young. I have missed his phone calls and stories ever since.

We are going to take this one word at a time and I am hoping that you will join me in a revolution of sorts. A concerted effort to reclaim the language of a people before those words and stories are lost forever to the generations that will follow:

aboon: preposition. Meaning: to think oneself superior to. Ever since those Swamp people got their own TV show, they act like they aboon their own kin.


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