Some Regional Words and Features

Maps of the following can be found in either the Word Map or Camp Talk sections with the exception of a-prefixing, plural was, fixing to, like(d) to, existential they, and pronoun hit. These are included in Michael Ellis. 2016. “Mapping Southern American English, 1861-1865.” Journal of Linguistic Geography 4.1: 1-14. Maps of words marked with * can be found in the Camp Talk section, “Sowbelly and Hardtack.” For a description of the major dialect regions see the Introduction to this Word Maps section

General Patterns found throughout the country
a-prefixing
haint for have not, has not
shall and shant with first-person subjects
was with a plural or second-person subject

North [These are characteristic of the North but not the North Midland]
*baked beans, noun (eastern New England)
brown bread, noun (New England)
gain, verb: “to become healthy”
had ought to, verb phrase
*salt horse, noun (Northeast)
see, past tense (Northeast)
smart, adjective: “healthy”
to for at, preposition
want you should, verb phrase (mainly Northeast)

North and North Midland
crick, noun
forenoon, noun
*grub, noun
*hardtack, noun
rod, noun: “5 ½ yards”
soft bread, noun: “loaf bread”
*sowbelly, noun (Northwest and West Midland)

North Midland
middling, adverb: “rather, somewhat” (esp. PA)

North Midland and South Midland
against, preposition and conjunction: “before, by, by the time”
till, preposition and conjunction: “before, by, by the time” (esp. PA., w NC)
apple butter, noun

South Midland
daddy, noun
fixing to, present participle of fix followed by an infinitive: “to intend, get ready”
slips, noun: “men’s underpants” (esp. wNC)

Midland and South
knowed, past tense and past participle
like(d) to, adverb phrase: “almost”
*light bread, noun, “loaf bread”
pap, noun: “a father”
*roasting ear, noun: “immature field corn”
seen, past tense of see
stout, adjective: “healthy”
they, existential subject: “there”

South, South Midland [These are features that are the most characteristically “Southern” and not shared with the North Midland]
all to, preposition: “except for”
cear, verb and noun: variant form of care
connection, noun: “relatives, kinfolk”
heap, noun: “a large number, amount”
hearn, past tense and past participle of hear
hit, pronoun: “it”
hope, past tense and past participle of help
horsespittle, noun: variant form of hospital
howdy, interjection and noun
mighty, adverb: “very”
one, pronoun: “one or the other, one of two alternatives”
right smart, noun: “a large amount”
seed, past tense and past participle of see
smart, adjective: “helpful, productive”
sorrow, adjective: “sorry”
tolerable, adverb: “rather, somewhat”
tolerable, adjective: “average”

NEXT: Word Maps

Get in touch

  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • history@uga.edu

eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

Learn More about eHistory