Notes on Language Use in
Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella

By Alan Schroeder, illustrations by Brad Sneed
Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin)
New York, 1997

Analysis by Stephanie Humphries

Dialect Main Page

Dialect Features in Smoky Mountain Rose:

On page 1, there are 120 altered words of some type (a word being two letters or more).  Of the 120, 24 are recognizable dialect references. Fourteen of these caused me to stumble as I read.  Three of these supplied additional information (a-prefixing, for example), rather than subtracting linguistic information (deleting letters, for example).  Five dialect references were lexical (vocabulary items). 

Questions to Consider:  

Are there too many attempts to represent features of speech in this text?  

How much is enough when trying to convey dialect in print?  (Remember that no piece of writing can illustrate all aspects of anyone's speech, without using a phonetic alphabet that would not be familiar to most readers.)  

What are the effects when a book's text contains too many dialect features?


Overall observations are summarized below.

I.  Differences between print and speech

Apostrophes for “silent” letters:

  1. listen (lis’en)
  2. of (o’): mess of fish, plate of corn
  3. than (‘n): neater’n a jigsaw
  4. little (li’l)
  5. about (‘bout)
  6. miserable (mis’rable)
  7. my (m’)
  8. ought to/got to (outa, gotta)
  9. would have (woulda)
  10. let me (lemme)
  11. want to (wanna)
  12. old (ol’)

Count:  approximately 67

II.  Phonetics

A. -g deletion (a social dialect feature, not “Appalachian” per se)

  1. Living - livin’

Also:  frying, having, setting, courting, picking, brewing

Count: 97

B. Word-final, unstressed syllables

  1. Fellow (feller)
  2. hollow (holler)
  3. potatoes (taters)

C.  "th" deletion

  1. them (‘em)

D.  /r/ deletion

  1. lord (lawd)

E.  Monothongization

  1. like (lak)

III. Lexicon

A.  A-prefixing

  1. you go a-courtin’
  2. a-brewin’

B. Words and Phrases

  1. dejected-like
  2. reckon
  3. down the road a piece
  4. smack in the heart of
  5. ye (20)
  6. yer/yerself (5)
  7. ain’t (6)
  8. y’all (2)
  9. Dejected-like, careful-like
  10. Reckon
  11. Down the road a piece
  12. Smack in the heart of
  13. Missy
  14. Shindig
  15. Fiddle
  16. Moseying
  17. Fret
  18. britches
  19. Critters
  20. Shut my mouth
  21. Sorriest looking
  22. Mean as a rattler
  23. Mean as a hornet
  24. Plumb near
  25. Critters
  26. Learn (for teach)
  27. Figgered
  28. Up and died
  29. Somethin’ fierce
  30. Lit into her
  31. Get hitched
  32. Darn fool thing
  33. Smooth as butter
  34. Happy as a pig in a peanut patch?
  35. Pay no mind
  36. Purty as blue bonnets in spring?
  37. Like soup loves salt?

IV.  Syntax

A.  Subject-verb Nonconcord 

Example:  Huckleberries was ripe.

B.  Personal Dative (2)

Example:  Got himself hitched

C.  Multiple Negation (1)


Dialect pages created May 2000. This page's last update: 12/21/03
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