Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You Say 'App-uh-lay-chuh,' I Say, 'Shut the Hell Up!'

The University of Michigan drew this map of our dear homeland.*
Something called notsville.com out of Knoxville, Tenn. (where my UT Volunteers don't play sports very well any more) posted the following, an issue dear to my heart for many years:

"The U.S. House is scheduled to vote on another piece of controversial legislation this week. Following last week's vote to repeal health care reforms President Barack Obama signed into law nearly a year ago, House lawmakers are scheduled take up the pronunciation of the word 'Appalachia.'

"The third vowel of the geographical region has traditionally been pronounced with a short "a" sound by those living there, and with the long "a" sound outside the expanse. The pending legislation would uniformly require the use of the short "a" sound when pronouncing 'Appalachia.'

"Says U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a freshman Republican from Jasper, Tenn. who has promised to vote against the bill, 'As a man with a hard to pronounce last name, I stand before you as a witness to the failures of a government-run linguistics model. This is legislation we don't need and can't afford. That said, it really should be pronounced App-a-latch-a.'"

Actually, it should be pronounced "App-uh-lach-uh." And don't you forget it! It's a sacred trust in our mountains.

(* Which goes to show what Yankees know. Notice the location of Roanoke--outside Appalachia.) 

The following poem was sent me by Mara Robbins of Floyd, making the point nicely:


by Elizabeth Hadaway

You want to ratchet this world's fury down?
Then learn to say it right. Not Appa-lay-
cha, Appa-latch-a.

I mean you,
you NPR announcers earnestly
enunciating all the accent marks
in Spanish or Sanskrit, you editors
who grant the standard and nonstandard tags
in dictionaries.

No, you didn't trash
our water, gash and snatch the mountaintops,
eradicate the chestnut trees, or plan
the factory stacks personally. You
just trample out our vowels.

Hear the whole
diaspora slam down their beer cans, stab
their students' final drafts, and smash the half-
carved radishes before they've had a chance
to bloom as radish roses?

We do that
as often as the quack newscasters drag
their "Appa-lay-cha" out.

It's not like quaint
or paid.

It's short a: acid, ash, scab, smack,
catastrophe, Cassandra, slag, last, wrath.


  1. Nothing (other than pronouncing nuclear "new-cue-lerr") raises my hackles worse than incorrectly saying Appalachia.


  2. I have spent the last 10 years arguing to my Yankee In-laws the errors of their ways in the enunciation of our beloved Appalachian Mountains. Let us hope that your words here provide further proof that will embolden them to challenge the very nature of their skewed lexicon.