Monday, March 06, 2006

HOW TO PRONOUNCE "APPALACHIAN" (published 3/6/2006; inaugural article)

[11/14/2023 addendum: this inaugural article, of seventeen years ago, continues to have views, on a daily basis. Please see the more recent article: How to Pronounce “Appalachian?” This Podcast Helps! (published 9-13-2023; article #430). The YouTube episode -- How to Pronounce “Appalachian?” This Podcast Helps! (published 9-13-2023; episode 18) -- is embedded in the article. Y'all keep turnin' right and goin' straight out there! Ya hear?]

Well, the Appalachian Irishman is trying to get this website up and running. Hundreds will soon rush to this site – for obvious reasons. So, let's start off with a little education on the basics of how to pronounce "Appalachian."

All you foreigners (i.e., Yankee transplants; see below on "Yankee") and New Age, mush-minded liberals need to understand how to pronounce “Appalachian.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (M-W) states that the word may be pronounced two ways: "a-p&-'lA-ch(E-)&n, -'la-, -sh(E-)&n." Now, for you government-school educated "scholars," who were not taught phonetics, the citation makes no sense. So, let's go back to Romper Room. First option: pronounce a strong "ch," in "Appalachian," as it sounds in "church." Second option: pronounce a soft "ch," as "sh," as it sounds in "shoe." Got that?

Well, even though the dictionary gives you two options, let me tell you right now that you can just pitch out the second option with last night's left over quiche! "Appalachian" is pronounced with a strong "ch" -- as anyone from here will tell you! Got that? Good! You can always spot an Appalachian chameleon, by the way he mispronounces the word.

By the way, M-W defines “Appalachian” as "a white native or resident of the Appalachian mountain area." Now, far be it for me to disagree with the mighty M-W, but that definition belies a clear Yankee, liberal, and politically correct bias, toward God-fearing conservatives, from around here! The word actually refers to any person, who lives or used to live in Appalachia and who abides by true southern, Christian conservatism! What is this "white native" fluff, M-W? What happened to the content of character over the color of skin? To a true Appalachian, skin color doesn't matter. Of course, our necks may be a little red, from getting out and actually working for a living, but you can be red, yellow, black, brown, or white and still be an Appalachian! Understand?

Oh, regarding "Yankee," there is a difference between a northerner, who simply moves into Appalachia, and a Yankee! A northerner may have been born somewhere else, but he is proud of Appalachian values, heritage, and culture. He tries to fit in, without attempting to change us. A Yankee, on the other hand, is a haughty, arrogant, blankety-blank, who thinks that he knows it all. He comes down here to “educate” us "poor, dumb folks." A Yankee tries to force his politically correct "tolerance" on us (a contradiction in itself). We just laugh at him behind his back – or do worse, if he gets too uppity! Now, do you understand the difference? Good!

Well, that's the lesson for today. Live it and love it! That is all!


MYSTIC said...

OH! WERE GONNA HAVE FUN Irish coasty or from Down East as they say in the Carolinas

M. Fearghail said...

If you accept philosophically "all that is good in the Appalachian and Irish way of life, as based upon the firm bedrock of Christian principles," it doesn't matter where you are geographically.

Anonymous said...

Thank y'all very much for posting this.. It really steams me to hear someone say it wrong!!!

Anonymous said...

Everyone keeps correcting me when I pronounce "Appalachian" and I may have missed it but I don't see any mention of the pronunciation of the third "a." Is that pronounced as a long "a" or a short "a"?


M. Fearghail said...

Hey, Anonymous, just walk up to anyone who was raised in Appalachia. He or she will give you the correct pronunciation. Just say it like we say it!

Anonymous said...

Why cant you leave it as it is pronounced in two different manners? the moutains are pretty much broken up around pennslyvania anyways. Runs all the way up to canada and since it is we can pronounce it our way. there is no reason to get mad about "us northerners" for pronouncing it different. personally I think your way to into this. find a hobby

M. Fearghail said...

Well, Anonymous, I would reply in more depth, but since you cannot properly use capitalization, punctuation, or rules of grammar, I will not take the time.

By the way, I addressed the way we, in East Tennessee, pronounce Appalachia. Pronounce it as you wish up there, Yankee.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Fells Point Irishman. Fells Point is in Baltimore for you sheltered "Appalachia's." Anyway, I am in no way a liberal yet I pronounce the "-achian" the way the English language is meant for you to pronounce it, as you would in the word "Asian." The "A" is soft, and if it was pronounces "Appalachin," then it would be spelled that way. I think it's funny the way you leave out the last "A" in the word. Just because I pronounce the word differently does not mean I'm a "Yankee" or a liberal. Maryland was neutral during World War II, and only becuase DC made us that way. I have relatives who fought for Maryland for the Confederacy. As stated before I am far from a liberal. I wish I were a Yankee though, then I could get one of the highest salaries in Major League Baseball.

SarahJane said...

I'm actually really glad you made this post. I live in southeastern, Ohio(which they consider the foothills to the Appalachian mountains) and our teachers, which usually come down from Cleveland, correct us every single time we say it with the ch sound. It's good to know that we don't have bad English, we just grew up different.

Anonymous said...

While you are right to insist on that particular pronunciation of "Appalachia" (since the name is based, largely, on the original Spanish which derived from, most likely, "Apache" and was transformed through other Romance languages wherein the "ch" was pronounced as is common for the sound in Modern English), and while you are right to blast notions of an isolated, homogeneous Appalachian society, I think you need to readjust your understanding of the kind of political and religious leanings and ideologies of Appalachians. Appalachia is actually one of the most religiously and politically diverse regions in the United States, with religions not only diverging among the broader Christian faith, but in other faiths as well (even no faith at all, which has been fairly prevalent and common since white settlement in the mountains). Furthermore, the general politics of the region have consistently been more left-leaning with an insistence on more government intervention.

M. Fearghail said...

Well, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, thank you for leaving your “educational” droppings. Feel free to be brave enough to identify yourself next time.

First, the little lesson in etymology was interesting. Of course, we, here in the mountains of East Tennessee, pronounce “Appalachia” the way we were raised. I am so glad that we are right, etymologically. Whew, you had me “worried.”

Next, I don’t recall “blasting” Appalachian society in any way. Now, I did, as you say, “blast,” the way Yankees stereotype us. There is a difference.

Finally, having been raised and having lived most of my life in Upper East Tennessee and East Tennessee (yes, there is a difference!), you wish to “educate” me, and to encourage me to “readjust” my understanding, of my home? You are braver than your name, Anonymous! A quick check of the demographic data supports what every true Appalachian from this area knows intuitively. The Appalachian area of East Tennessee is predominately Protestant, with the Baptist Church holding sway, and politically conservative. Most folks around here do not want the government “intervening” in our lives! We are a proud, self-reliant, and stubborn people. We will find a way to make it on our own, but we will rely on help from neighbors, who offer in the proper manner, when we truly need it. (Of course, folks who move into this area may introduce new religious notions and political ideas, but the native born Appalachian is predominately Protestant and conservative.)

Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, where are you from, anyway? You ain’t from around here, are you?

By the way, check out How to Pronounce "Appalachian"-Revisited, to see my replies to Ryan McGarvey and SarahJane, who were brave enough to identify themselves.

Anonymous said...

"The Appalachian area of East Tennessee is predominately Protestant, with the Baptist Church holding sway, and politically conservative."

I guess that's why I was raised Methodist, had a Catholic Church in my town, and there's an Islamic center in Prestonsburg. I'm not even going to touch the conservative thing because this is clearly your Appalachian fantasy not mine.

You've basically outlined what Appalachia is to you but that doesn't mean that it is true for the rest of us.


M. Fearghail said...

Thank you for dropping by, Anonymous (aka Valerie). (If you reveal your name, how can you be anonymous?) I am delighted that my article of over four years ago can still raise a little dander. You cite and remark specifically on my reply comment of January 31, 2010, which stated, “The Appalachian area of East Tennessee is predominately Protestant, with the Baptist Church holding sway, and politically conservative." I stand by my statement.

First, note, please, that I wrote, “The Appalachian area of EAST TENNESSEE is PREDOMINATELY Protestant, with the Baptist Church holding sway, and politically conservative” (emphasis added). You may be weak on geography, so allow me to educate you. Prestonsburg, which I must assume is “your town,” is in EASTERN KENTUCKY, NOT in EAST TENNESSEE. Hum? See the difference?

Further, notice the word PREDOMINATELY, please! Many religious groups are found in EAST TENNESSEE, as in eastern Kentucky. Check the demographics, however. EAST TENNESSEE, as eastern Kentucky, is PREDOMINATELY Protestant. Yes, Islamic groups have formed in both areas, but they are latecomers, and I have nothing against their peaceful presence in the area. They, however, are not PREDOMINANT.

Next, I will “touch the conservative thing,” since I am not afraid to do so. EAST TENNESSEE is PREDOMINATELY conservative. Again, check the demographics and voting patterns. That truth is no fantasy. I just hope that y’all up there in eastern Kentucky are predominately conservative also.

Finally, you expose your underlying philosophy, rooted in the theory that truth is subjective, by claiming that my outline of Appalachia is not true for the rest of you. (Interestingly, I wonder who the rest of you are, but I digress.) Once more, just check the demographics, history, and voting patterns, for the specific area that I identified – EAST TENNESSEE. Truth is truth, based on sound reasoning from the evidence. One plus one absolutely always equals two -- not three or four -- no matter what you may think subjectively that the truth is. (By the way, if truth is subjective, but if the statement that truth is subjective is an absolute statement, but if there are no absolutes, how can you be absolutely sure that truth is subjective? But again, I digress.)

Well, that is my geography and math lesson for the day. Stop by again, for another lesson, if you wish!

former resident said...

Seems most the of W. b'Gawd Virginians when I lived there said "AppaLATCHIN, but I was astounded to hear the late Sen. Robert Byrd, in a film clip, say "AppaLAYchin." Maybe he spent too much time in Washington? I doubt it. After all, he was "Sen. West Virgina."

Brad Berthold

M. Fearghail said...

Thank you, Bradley, for your remark.

Robert Byrd had flown the coop a long time ago anyway!

Anonymous said...

and this is why the south lost the war folks!!!

M. Fearghail said...

Ah, another "brave Anonymous" posts a little dropping!

Let's see, I'll give you a reply worthy of your "insightful" remark -- silence!

Anonymous said...

I might be a little late to the party here, but did you say you're an Irish Protestant. Protestants live in Northern Ireland which is a part of the UK. Now who's a yankee?

By the way, I grew up in Ireland before I moved to Appalachia and I've heard it pronounced both ways. I have to say, this is the dumbest thing I can even think of to get into an argument about. Don't you Americans have something better to fight over?

M. Fearghail said...

I am glad that my little post of yesteryear still draws a few comments. This time, another "brave Anonymous" leaves a dropping.

Anonymous, your "logic" puzzles me. I have stated, "The Appalachian area of East Tennessee is predominately Protestant. . . ." Where did I state that I am an Irish Protestant? (Of course, I am proud of my Irish heritage.) Further, do Protestants live only in Northern Ireland? Northern Ireland is part of the UK, but when did residents of the UK take on the epithet Yankee? Please re-educate, or educate, yourself in the basics of logic.

Welcome to Appalachia, by the way. Appalachia may be pronounced in different ways. My point, however, for the sheer fun of it, has been to indicate that in Upper East Tennessee, we pronounce the word, predominately, in one particular way. You take me far too seriously.

Finally, if you moved from Ireland to America, are you not now an American?

Oh, one last point, if you will indulge me. I have visited Ireland. I found the good people there to be cordial but opinionated, in a pleasant manner. I am proud that I have that Irish spirit and temperament. Aren’t you?

Sylvia said...

Thank you M. Fearghail for brightening my day with your amusing and entertaining comments!

M. Fearghail said...

Sylvia, you are welcome, my dear! Humor helps! Stop by any time!

Kait said...

I have to say that I agree with you 100%.
Here in Georgia everyone says it with a short "a" and a strong "ch"...Guess it's a southern thing.

Anonymous said...

So my husband and I are having issues with pronouncing Appalachia - Im from Ireland and he is from Norfolk VA.
I pronounce it App-al-eh-shee-ahhh - its the "-chia" that throws me and he pronounces it App-a-lay-shuh.
So the -chia is pronounced shuh?

(Didnt wanna sign in anwhere)

M. Fearghail said...


Welcome to this country, and thank you for your comment. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I visited Ireland for two weeks, back in 1997. I wish I could figure out how to make a living farming or raising sheep over there! I'd move in a heartbeat!

To your question, specifically, we, here in the East Tennessee and Upper East Tennessee area, pronounce "Appalachia" with a strong 'ch,' as in "church," "change," or "check," not pronouncing the 'i.' If the word is pronounced that way where you are, you might want to follow along.

While living in Russia for five years, I learned to pronounce Russian words as the Russian people pronounced them, even if the pronunciation didn't seem right, in respect to the native Russian speaker.

Thanks again for stopping by. Ironically, the last comment was on my birthday. Your comment came on what would have been Dad's birthday.

I am amazed that my little article of over five years ago still draws comments from time to time.

Jordan said...

I grew up in Middle Tennessee and always pronounced Appalachian with the third a soft and the ch as in church. I was never aware that it was pronounced differently until I went to college in PA. After being corrected repeatedly and laughed at, I began to doubt my deeply-rooted pronunciation. However, your post from a true local of Appalachia gives me a renewed sense of confidence on how to CORRECTLY pronounce Appalachian. Thanks for the post, and thanks for standing up to northern arrogance!

By the way, you are correct on describing the region as predominantly Protestant and conservative. Only in larger cities that attract transplants (Asheville) is this not true.

M. Fearghail said...


Thank you for your refreshing stream of commentary -- a fine contribution.

The northerners, or Yankees, in your case, have their pronunciation, and we have ours. We don't correct their "not from around here" pronunciations, when they move down here, and they shouldn't do so, when we move, or study, up there. Stick to your guns, fellow Appalachian!

I would venture to guess that even Asheville is still predominately Protestant. I checked demographic data, but I could only find religious demographics for the state--which shows overwhelming Protestant majority.

Keep in touch!

Unknown said...

The funny comments here are entertaining. I was born and raised in northwestern NJ, just a couple miles from the trail actually, so naturally it is pronounced apple-LAY-chin in that area. Not right or wrong, I guess. What I humorously take offense to all northerners referred to as 'Yankee'. I am a life long Met fan and hate to be called 'Yankee'. I tell folks to think a big ACC basketball game between Carolina and NC State. Imagine the Wolfpack head coach in the locker room saying "Okay, you Tar Heels, go win this game!" Not exactly inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance. I am from Idaho. Blog and comments seem to have a common theme of southern mountain culture. Appalachian chain runs from Alabama thru Maine. Most of it is not in the historic south. Just asking.

M. Fearghail said...

Do not worry, Anonymous! The Appalachian Irishman forgives all ignorance from Idaho! It's just our way, here in these parts.

Hum, I live in the southern Appalachian area. Could this be why the comments have that theme?

Oh, yes, we are sufficiently educated here -- despite the guvermin edukashunal sistim's efforts otherwise -- to know how long the Appalachian chain runs.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by. I am still amazed that my little post of so long ago still draws comments from time to time.

Anonymous said...

This conversation has caught my attention. I have taken issue with this subject all of my 60 years. Pronuciation of the words Appalachian or Appalachia.

I was born on Willard Mountain located on the East face of the Blue Ridge Mountain range in Southwest Virginia, that's Virginia not West Virginia. I am very proud of where I was born, raised and still live today.

My comment on the subject is this....
We all know the cliche, "When in Rome....."
Based on that premise I will say this, If you expect me to respect you and what you have to say, I expect you to have the same respect for me.

If you ever figure out where my "Holler" is located and someone happens to visit, I will demand that person have the decency to have
respect. Enough said!

Appa-LATCH-an Amercian
D. Pace

PS. I only use Anonymous because this is the only this web page will allow me to comment.

M. Fearghail said...

Mr. Pace, from one Appa-LATCH-an to another, I give your comment a hearty AMEN! Thanks for stopping by. Recon we'd have quite a bit in common, if'n we had a chance to set and visit.

M. Fearghail said...

Oh, I wrote "set," not "sit," 'cause that thar's how we say hit down here.

Anonymous said...

Sir, I would be happy to sit a spell with you.

Anonymous said...

Fairly liberal Pagan from NE TN here. I totally agree with your pronunciation of Appalachia and Appalachian here. One of my favorite ways i've heard people tell another how to pronounce it is: Apple at 'cha, as in if you say Appa-lay-shun again i'll throw an apple at 'cha ;)

But i do have to disagree with the whole religious thing. Yes, we are predominantly Christian here, now, but it wasn't like that in the beginning of white settlement in the area. Several different groups of people with a broad leaning of cosmological world views and mystical thought first came to this country and area due to religious persecution. The Irish, Scots-Irish or Ulster Scots and Germans who settled this area carried with them a lot of folk beliefs and folk religions that date back to pre-Christian times. Hence the richness of a lot of our customs and lore, such as planting by the signs. Many of the early settlers had strong occult leanings and even practiced magic and witchcraft and witch doctoring.

- andrea

Read: Signs, Cures and Witchery: German Appalachian Folklore by Gerald C. Milnes. A good text published by UT Press. Just one of many well researched books available about the early beliefs of the first settlers in our area.

M. Fearghail said...

Ah, Andrea! Yes, “apple at ‘cha’” is a good way to explain the pronunciation! (I am still amazed that my little blog of over nine years ago gets the sporadic attention.)

Also, your comments about the non-Christian (i.e., pagan) influence upon the region are duly noted. I have the ability to “witch a well,” or find underground water with divining rods. I ordered the book you recommended. Of course, my remarks are relevant to the current age. The area is now predominately Christian. However, socialist and secular influences are “watering down” that influence, regrettably. May the one true God bless us all with understanding and enlightenment, before it is too late, for this region and this country!

Parting thought: it would be interesting to sit down with you, over a cup of coffee, to enjoy an intellectual discussion, which is rare these days!
E-mail me, at, if you wish to talk further.