What is the Correct Pronunciation of “Appalachian”?

Although we can all agree that the Appalachian Trail is a beautiful, wondrous footpath that extends nearly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, when it comes to something as basic as to how it’s pronounced, the room is split.

Conventional wisdom says that the Mason-Dixon line represents the division amongst the two common pronunciations, with northerners saying “a-puh-LAY-chuhn”, while southerners say “a-puh-LATCH-uhn”, but conventional wisdom must be taken at face value.

Despite the title of this post, I’m not actually here to find the “correct” pronunciation, but instead to discover which is more common.  But– it should go without saying, the more common pronunciation is also of course also the correct one (sarcastic winky face) 😉

So let’s figure this out!  How do you pronounce “Appalachian”? Vote below to let us know.

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Comments 61

  • CalebBoone : Feb 8th

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

    I agree one thousand percent with Melie Guzek.

    I just listened to a PBS nature show about “Grandfather Mountain.”

    The announcer or host used the “latch” pronunciation.

    I could tell that he was desperately trying to sound “in” or “cool.”

    I perceived something was amiss.

    And I was right.

    He was being silly.

    I am from Kansas. I was taught to use the “lay” pronunciation.

    “Lay” is right. “Latch” is for trendy sissies.

    Or hillbillies.

    Yes, I admit it. I used the term hillbillies.

    But I am exactly right.

    Have a Dovely.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    Reply
    • Elisabeth : Mar 10th

      I read your post. I perceived something was amiss. And I was right. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. What an exhaustion to read an arrogant prick brag about being linguistically correct.
      Ya’ll come back now,
      Elisabeth Walt

      Reply
      • CalebBoone : Apr 2nd

        Dear Elizabeth:

        I am a hillbilly.

        I live in a very countryfied area, in extremely sparsely-populated Western Kansas.

        Most of the counties in my area have fewer than two thousand people.

        I can smell a phony a mile away.

        Anyone who bends over backwards to say “latch” is a silly, stupid phony, who is trying to be native, local and cool.

        Real people, who really are genuine and authentic, don’t act like silly little children and don’t try to sound in or cool.

        They pronounce words the way all real people learned to pronounce them in grade school.

        I recall the same silliness when everyone in Washington, D.C. suddenly began to speak like an Arkansas hillbilly when Bill Clinton was President.

        It was embarrassing then.

        It is still embarrassing now.

        Have a Dovely.

        Sincerely yours,
        Caleb Boone.

        Reply
        • Buddy : Jun 9th

          Kind of like the pronunciation argument for “Colorado.” I’ve heard it with a short a, and with a long a. In that case, I tend to favor the version used most by folks who live there. As far as Appalachian…never heard the “LAY” version until I was in my early 30s. Well, I once heard Joe Strummer say LAY in a song, but assumed it was just his English accent. Grew up in SC, lived several years IN the Appalachians (Boone, NC), and I can say folks all over the Carolinas and Georgia say LATCH – as did everyone in eastern Tennessee. Never been to Kansas, so I couldn’t say how they pronounce it – but also not sure it matters how they pronounce it, as they aren’t exactly in the Appalachians anyway. 😉

          Reply
          • CalebBoone : Jun 9th

            Dear Buddy:

            I pronounce Colorado “coll-uh-RAH-doh.”

            I just feel so good when I say “App-uh-LAY-chun.”

            I am sure I am right.

            I don’t care what people say who live there. If they’re wrong, then they are wrong.

            And, they are wrong. It is even more sad to realize that they have been mispronouncing the very name of the place they live, lo these many hundreds of years. But that is true for so many hillbillies.

            It is akin to someone complaining about being arrested. He believes he should not have been arrested. Yet, he ignores the fact that just before being arrested, he split someone’s lip open or broke someone’s jaw with a good strong right cross. He overlooks that and argues the policeman was prejudiced against him because he was a hillbilly.

            Well, the policeman arrested him because he hit someone. He hit someone because he was a hillbilly. Therefore, yes, he was arrested because he was a hillbilly.

            So, yes, yes, yes! He was arrested, in truth and in fact, actually, because he was a hillbilly.

            So, yes, yes, yes, the policeman was prejudiced against him because he was a hillbilly, because, shocking-as-it-is-to-say, hillbillies are arrested more than non-hillbillies.

            I cannot say that often enough.

            Hillbillies are arrested a lot. Hillbillies do not look you in the eye. Hillbillies look down at the ground when you talk to them. Hillbillies do not use proper grammar. Hillbillies do not bathe. Hillbillies shoot guns a lot. Hillbillies attend tractor pulls. Hillbillies are usually in jail or prison a lot.

            And, I will say it again.

            Hillbillies cannot spell or pronounce their own names.

            Hillbillies cannot spell or properly pronounce the names of the places in which they themselves live.

            They live in Appalachia, which is properly pronounced only one way: “App-uh-LAY-chuh.”

            Have a Dovely.

            Sincerely yours,
            Caleb Boone.

            Reply
            • Kentucky Woman : Jun 22nd

              Caleb – you are an idiot.

              Reply
              • CalebBoone : Jul 4th

                Dear Kentucky Woman:

                Well, I suppose you expect me to disagree with you.

                You are right.

                I disagree with you.

                I am not an idiot.

                A lady from Tennessee, a lifelong Tennessee resident, a real Tennessean, told me hillbillies are embarrassed to speak to Yankees or Northerners.

                She told me they feel inferior to Northerners.

                She told me they look down at their shoes and don’t look Northerners in the eye because they are embarrassed about being from the South, and feel uneducated and inadequate.

                People like that mispronounce words.

                People like that can’t spell words.

                People like that don’t know how to properly spell or pronounce the names of the places they live.

                And now, those few hillbillies who can read and write a little, are trying to justify these misspellings and mispronunciations by claiming they are regional differences, or provincialisms.

                I don’t think they are.

                I think they are, plainly and simply, evidence of all hillbillies’ poor education and upbringing.

                Have a Dovely.

                Sincerely yours,
                Caleb.

              • Kentucky Woman : Jul 5th

                Caleb – just so you know, my KY family uses the Appa – lay -shin pronunciation for generations. I don’t have a problem with others who use the latch version. I have a problem with your attitude. I no longer live in the south – I live in Boston! Almost all of your generalities about hillbillies are in error. Sorry, you need to do more research. Unkind of me to call you an idiot – I apologize, I guess you are just not well informed. Stick to areas where you excel.

              • CalebBoone : Jul 5th

                Dear Bostonian Woman:

                I will do more research.

                But I am certain my research will prove me right.

                Have a Dovely.

                Sincerely yours,
                The Late George Apley.

              • Kentucky Woman : Jul 5th

                research is twice as nice when open minded Georgie!

              • CalebBoone : Jul 5th

                Dear Bostonian Lady:

                I will be.

                Have a Dovely.

                Sincerely yours,
                Ernest and Julio Gallup.

              • Kentucky Woman : Jul 5th

                haha
                Daniel Boone moonshine descendant?

              • CalebBoone : Jul 5th

                Dear Kentucky Derby:

                No.

                My father’s family were German, probably named Bonn, changed to Boone in the New World.

                They were Old German Baptist Brethren, commonly known as Dunkards.

                Daniel Boone was probably associated with the Quakers, or Society of Friends.

                He was definitely not associated with the Dunkards.

                All this to say that the common surname Boone is a coincidence.

                The Dunkards are tee-totalers, or abstinent.

                My father’s father was the first to break away and not join the Dunkard Church, or “Old Order Church.”

                He became a United Methodist.

                And, humorously, of course, Daniel Boone was not a Methodist.

                Now, this does not mean I do not like Oatmeal.

                I love Quick Quaker Oats.

                I was raised on them.

                “Cooks in one minute.”

                Have a Dovely.

                Sincerely yours,
                Caleb Boone.

              • CalebBoone : Jul 15th

                Dear Kentucky Woman:

                I am probably not related to Daniel Boone.

                My father’s family name was Bonn, a German last name.

                They were Dunkards.

                Daniel Boone was associated w

            • Lee : Mar 27th

              Wrong….you sound like a very bigoted person and one who has no understanding of the origins of the Southern dialect. Educate yourself. App a latch en.

              Reply
          • CalebBoone : Jun 14th

            Dear Buddy:

            I understand your point.

            But I still think lay is right.

            I may be a Kansas Corn-Pone but I believe that when you strip all the extraneous layers of convention away, lay will prove correct.

            Have a Dovely.

            Sincerely yours,
            Caleb Boone.

            Reply
        • Jimbob : Mar 25th

          Caleb:
          HAHA that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard – a hillbilly from Kansas? Kansas is probably the flattest state in the whole country! Hillbillies don’t live on the plains, that’s why they’re called HILL billies. I was born and raised in the mountains of the Appalachian State, western North Carolina, and lived for 2 decades in deep in the Mountain State, WV. You have no idea what you are talking about and you pretty much disqualified yourself when you said you were from Kansas. I don’t care how countrified you might be, the lifestyle is 100% different when you live in the mountains out in the holler and make do out there. Hillbillies as I’ve known them all my life in Appalachia don’t have huge pastures or fields or flat horizons. They usually have a place in a holler that is isolated from the rest of the world. A holler, if you don’t know, is an Appalachian term for a steep valley with a road or a creek at the bottom.

          Reply
    • Flame_star1 : Apr 16th

      You say you are from Kansas so have you ever actually been to the Appalachian Mountains? I grew up in North East Tennessee and I never heard anyone say the lay pronunciation until I moved to Texas. I can’t stand when I hear people tell me I am wrong when I was the one who grew up there and they haven’t even seen the place in person. I don’t know where you got the idea that latch is for “trendy sissies” and “hillbillies” but almost anyone from the southern part of the Appalachians will tell you it is the latch pronunciation. You can’t say everyone who says latch are “trendy sissies” or “hillbillies”.

      Reply
      • CalebBoone : Apr 16th

        Dear Flame Star 1:

        I have visited Tennessee many times over many years.

        My sister lived in Adams, Clarksville and in the extreme northeast corner of Tennessee for a total of about twenty years.

        I have spent many long, leiisurely visits in Tennessee to see her and her family.

        I know exactly what I am talking about.

        Tennessee hillbillies will do whatever they can to not speak proper English.

        They do this because they are ashamed or feel inferior to people from north of the Line.

        Whenever I go to Tennessee, no hillbilly will look me in the eye: they look down at the floor in shame.

        And, their speech is slurred and garbled.

        I asked a lady who was a lifelong Tennessean about this. She was a lifelong Tennessee State Employee in a Government Retirement Benefits Administration Office in Nashville.

        She told me I was exactly right.

        She told me Tennesseans all feel inferior to Northerners.

        She told me they intentionally do not look Northerners in the eye or speak up because they are ashamed of their poor education, poor diction and hillbilly accent.

        She told me she had experienced this personally, all her life long.

        She was about sixty years old.

        I am certain that the “latch” pronunciation is the result of Tennessee hillbillies’ failure to speak properly, which stems from their overwhelming sense of shame in the presence of those more well-spoken or better educated than they.

        That is the simple, direct and correct explanation for the “latch” pronunciation, and the countless other sloppy, incorrect hillbilly pronunciations, habits and customs which prevail in hillbilly-populated areas of our country.

        I love the hillbillies and wish them well, but I also do understand the truth behind their customs and I have offered my opinion here to correct the erroneous impression left by the above article.

        Sincerely yours,
        Caleb Boone.

        Reply
        • Ben Collins : Jun 10th

          The way Southern people speak is closer to the original American’s dialect. Know your history? Are you trolling us or is this your actual opinion?

          Reply
          • CalebBoone : Jun 14th

            Dear Ben Collins:

            This is my opinion.

            I personally typed all my letters in this discussion from scratch on this website.

            I don’t agree that Southerners’ accents most closely mimic true Colonial American speech.

            Many early American Southerners were Irish and Scottish.

            Their accents would be different from the speech of most of the original Colonists.

            Now, surely, there were many accents throughout the Colonies, and the South. I refer to the accents of the majority of the original Colonists. I think those accents were different from the accents of the majority of the free men who populated the American South.

            I confess that I don’t care for hillbilly accents.

            I also don’t agree with the conservative-spirited country-music-inspired glorification of hillbilly speech and beliefs. I think that is silly and fake. We have had to put up with it for about three hundred years and I am weary of it.

            This suggestion that the “latch” pronunciation is correct is merely one of the hundreds of millions of promoted hillbilly-related beliefs, customs, practices and conventions which Southerners will not let go.

            Have a Dovely.

            Sincerely yours,
            Caleb Boone.

            Reply
            • Ben Collins : Jun 15th

              Well don’t ever come to Bristol, Tennessee, then. We’re proud of our heritage and the incredible and beautiful human culture we create today in this region. Our land is one of loving thy neighbor while minding your business. Our people are survivors and proud. We don’t have a stereotype, either, here – it’s a land of diversity and diverse opinions and viewpoints and accents.

              Reply
              • CalebBoone : Jun 15th

                Dear Ben:

                For about ten years, my sister and her family lived in Adams, Tennessee about fifty miles outside Nashville.

                Adams is a town of approximately three hundred people about eighteen miles outside Clarksville, Tennessee. I have visited that area many, many times.

                The Trail of Tears passes within five miles of my sister’s house. We hiked there with her children.

                But I will say that whenever I visited, no hillbilly would look me in the eye. They were all depressed and they looked down at their shoes or at the floor.

                I spoke to a lifelong Tennessean, a lady who was about sixty years old, and she confirmed that all Tennessee hillbillies are ashamed of themselves and they look down when speaking to Yankees or Northerners. She confirmed that all the stereotypes about hillbillies are true. She was a dyed-in-the-wool lifelong mature, intelligent, Tennessean.

                I love hillbillies and I want to help them.

                But first we all must recognize the stereotypes are true so we can deal with the problem.

                Have a Dovely.

                Sincerely yours,
                Caleb.

              • utplagal : Jun 16th

                Hi Caleb. My name is David, and I’m a so-called “hillbilly” from Tennessee who uses the “latch” pronunciation /ˈæpəˈlætʃə/ as opposed to the “laish” pronunciation /ˈæpəˈlɛɪʃə/.

                A “hillbilly”, as defined based on the Random House Dictionary, is “a person from a backwoods or other remote area, especially from the mountains of the southern U.S.” Collins English Dictionary takes it another step by saying a hillbilly is “generally (derogatory) an unsophisticated person, especially from the mountainous areas in the southern US.” And just for clarity’s sake, “sophisticated” is defined as “altered by education, experience, etc. so as to be worldly-wise; not naïve.”

                Going down the list… I’m not from a remote or backwoods area. I grew up just outside of Nashville, then lived in Knoxville for several years, and then relocated to Miami, FL. As for sophisticated, I have indeed been shaped by education and experience—three college degrees spanning ten years, in fact, my PhD dissertation addressing the sociological implications of Anglican church music on current American practices of choral composition. I now teach college courses on classical music theory as an adjunct professor, at the ripe old age of 29.

                I am many things, but a hillbilly is not one of them. In fact, it is *because* of my alteration via education (sophistication by definition) that I’ve come to prefer the pronunciation /ˈæpəˈlætʃə/, seeing its cultural significance and its history. I would actually argue that it is truly the unsophisticated individual who insists the pronunciation /ˈæpəˈlɛɪʃə/ has no linguistic significance outside of hipsters and hillbillies. And many academics in my social circles would agree with me.

                But what do I know? I’m just a Southern hillbilly who talks funny, I guess.

                Best regards,
                David

              • CalebBoone : Jun 16th

                Dear David:

                I am a singer. I am a tenor and have been classically trained. I am the only member in the history of the Fort Worth, Texas Boys’ Choir to have been admitted to the principal performing choir immediately at the conclusion of my first impromptu or informal audition. In college in Topeka, Kansas I sang as a soloist with and member of every vocal ensemble and choir in my college. Although I was not a music student, I was invited to sing in every annual music department honors recital (evening public performance to a full concert hall audience of 2,500) after my freshman year. I studied and sang the Lieder of Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Schumann and the oratorio arias of Handel, Mendelssohn and many others in college, and have continued to do so for over thirty years, after graduation from college. I continue to sing as a Lieder and Oratorio soloist in performances at the local university.

                I thought it would be good to accentuate my musical background. I also was a paid cantor and section leader in an Episcopal Parish Church, Saint David’s, during college in Topeka, Kansas. I sang for the Sometime Archbishop of Canterbury in that church.

                I apologize, but I must disagree with you.

                The lay pronunciation must be right.

                It feels so right, and it sounds so clean.

                Have a Dovely.

                Sincerely yours,
                Caleb.

            • Fuck You : Nov 4th

              Just shut up you bigot.

              Reply
              • Morgan : Jun 14th

                “Hillbillies” aren’t embarrassed to talk to educated people, Yanks, northerners, and whomever else you think we believe has intellectual superiority over us. We just think they’re jackasses (like you) and would much rather not. If you’d like to visit Bristol, I’ll gladly look you in the eye and tell you you’re an ignorant jackass.

                Bless your heart,
                Morgan

    • Ben Collins : Jun 10th

      I assure you, there are times and places when it matters how you say a word, when it matters that you are in your homeland or you are an invader. And should you dare to actually ask and wonder, just for the sake of argument, would the origin of the word actually be a way to know who is the enemy? To know who — if they were there — would have sympathized with the Trail of Tears? Who still to this day believes as those Men did, who might just not have any sense of time or history or humanity?

      So let me ask you this, if you can for a moment imagine being somewhere other than where you are now, what if, just for the sake of augment, you were helpless and staring at a sharp arrow notched in a tautly strung bow aimed straight at your throat, held in the very capable hands of a Cherokee and you were asked,

      “How do you say the word A-p-p-a-l-a-c-h-i-a-n?” The letters spelled out carefully for your previously deaf ears…

      I think we both know the answer.

      Reply
      • CalebBoone : Jun 14th

        Dear Ben Collins:

        I understand your point.

        But we are not on the battlefield now.

        We are in the America of the Twenty-first Century.

        I have spent many hours researching Native American Genealogy for my clients of Native American Descent. I have a very long-time client who was a Pottawatomie Ceremonial Dancer.

        I don’t think anyone would kill me for using a long a to pronounce Appalachian.

        Have a Dovely.

        Sincerely yours,
        Caleb Boone.

        Reply
    • Scott : Nov 29th

      Caleb, I have to assume that you’re just trying to be provocative. Because it isn’t “hipster” to pronounce it the way we all heard it growing up in those mountains. I’ve always been told that people from the Appalachian, even points north, pronounce it as latch and people who aren’t from there use laytch.

      Plus, it’s a Cherokee word and they don’t have the long a sound.

      I’m probably being redundant to other replies but I can’t read the later comments on my phone.

      Reply
    • Ian : Apr 21st

      Dear Caleb,

      I went to Appalachian State University, in BOONE North Carolina, and not only is your comment reductionist, shallow and rude, it’s flat out wrong as the running results of the poll show clearly. Further the namesake of the mountainous region descends from the appalachee Native American tribes, and the pronunciation is “App-uh-Latch-an”.

      I studied neuropsychology there and I’m about as far from an uneducated hick or hillbilly as one can get. Have a beautiful day in Kansas, having no skin in the game there and being wrong as you are.

      Reply
    • LoganB : Sep 11th

      Living in these mountains my entire life, born and raised with people who have been here their entire lives going back for Lord knows how long, you’ve got the “lay” and the “latch” mixed up. Appa-latch-ian is how it is said here, and Appa-lay-shun is what those followign the trend tend to say. Or at the very least, those in the northern Appalachians.

      Reply
      • Amie : May 30th

        Here in North Central Pennsylvania, I have never heard anyone say it laych and definitely not latch. We say layshan. Right or wrong that is how most everyone pronounces here. I have, for my entire 39 years of life, been taught to say it that way. So I would not say it is a “trend” to say it that way. I am not being trendy.

        Reply
    • Amy Burton : Jun 20th

      Hi Caleb,

      I just saw your post and thought I could explain better the linguistic history of the mountain range instead of relying only on loose cultural assumptions. The Appalachian mountain range is named by Hernando de Soto after using Appalachee Indian guides and then generalizing this tribe with the Cherokee nation who lived in the present day southern Appalachian mountains. Due to this colonized name for their land, the Cherokee ended up taking it on and pronouncing it in terms of their native alphabet which leads to the pronunciation of app-a- LATCH- uh. I am a Cherokee tribe member, and we refer to it in our own native terms, as we see it as a sign of respect for our native land as opposed to the anglicized version that later came with the formation of the American colonies. This is similar to the pronunciation of Nevada, as it became anglocized as well.

      If you want more information on the historical background of this area, Appalachian State University and East Tennessee State University both have extensive linguistic studies of this area.

      Thanks!

      Amy Burton

      Reply
  • A J MacDonald Jr : Jun 6th

    I grew up in Maryland during the 1960s and 70s and everyone said LAY. I’m not changing now.

    Reply
    • Ben Collins : Jun 10th

      To those who wrongly believe there is not a correct way to pronounce Appalachia, here is your argument:

      1. The word “Appalachian” is spoken in two ways.

      2. The ways they are spoken are divided (roughly) by region.

      3. Both spoken ways are “acceptable” or “should be accepted” — there is “no harm” in accepting both, it is “OK” to speak it either way (although you make the conjecture that “majority rules” and therefore it’s really “better” to go with the way you learned to speak it).

      Hopefully you agree with these statements so far.

      What seems clear is that the ORIGIN of the word has no bearing on your argument. The only origin that is relevant is the region it is spoken in. If the first time you hear it is one way, that’s the right way.

      This is the fundamental question — what is the origin of any word and any pronunciation? Should that matter in any regard or should we simply speak however we see fit and as long as we are understood, it’s all good?

      I’ll argue on your behalf, with:

      4. It does not matter how a word was spoken in the past. All that matters is how it is spoken in the present.

      5. If a word was spoken one way in the past and a different way in the future, that is part of an “acceptable” form of the evolution of language.

      The thrust of my counter argument, and my defeat of your logic is as follows: “It does not matter to you NOW how the word is spoken.”

      You see, it is the present tense that is so fundamental — the present tense that you claim is such an informative authority on the rightness or acceptableness of language pronunciation.

      So let me tell you a very short story in order to frame my own point. During the Colombian revolution, the occupiers could never quite figure out the correct way to say the word “Francisco” no matter how hard they tried to blend in as spies and land-takers. A famous general once rounded up a bunch of suspects and asked them to loudly pronounce the word. Any true local easily expressed the subtlety. All the rest were summarily thrown into the river to drown.

      Time and time again, history tells of of occupations and conquerors, where the locals know exactly how things are said and how to tell who is an outsider and who is an authenticlocal.

      “The locals cringe when they hear Appalachia pronounced differently than they way they would speak it.”

      I assure you, there are times and places when it matters how you say a word, when it matters that you are in your homeland or you are an invader. And should you dare to actually ask and wonder, just for the sake of argument, would the origin of the word actually be a way to know who is the enemy? To know who — if they were there — would have sympathized with the Trail of Tears? Who still to this day believes as those Men did, who might just not have any sense of time or history or humanity?

      So let me ask you this, if you can for a moment imagine being somewhere other than where you are now, what if, just for the sake of augment, you were helpless and staring at a sharp arrow notched in a tautly strung bow aimed straight at your throat, held in the very capable hands of a Cherokee and you were asked,

      “How do you say the word A-p-p-a-l-a-c-h-i-a-n?” The letters spelled out carefully for your previously deaf ears…

      I think we both know the answer.

      Reply
  • Shaun J. Roberts : Jun 6th

    Grew up in WNC (San Fran Hayco!) and live in Tallahassee- we have Apalachee (A-puh-LATCH-ee) Parkway in Tallahassee – and I grew up in the a-puh-LATCH-uhn mountains.

    Reply
    • Ben Collins : Jun 10th

      The Appalachian mountains were essentially named thusly because of the Apalachee people.

      Reply
  • Melissa : Jun 7th

    I, too, am from extremely western Kansas, and am embarrassed by Caleb’s arrogance. I know a number of fantastic people from Tennessee and would look to them for pronunciation of their local landmarks. We have a river in Kansas that we, as a state pronounce differently than all the states around us. But that’s the way pronunciations go. When I get to go East, I will respectfully call it what the locals call it, and switch when I should.

    Reply
  • Alyssa Kathryn Dufresne : Jun 9th

    Appa-la-shin

    Reply
    • Ben Collins : Jun 10th

      This is historically incorrect and actually by saying this way you are being unintentionally anti-native american.

      Reply
  • Cody Pollard : Jun 10th

    When I say phone people think i say Foone. We are all obviously saying the same thing it just comes off differently with diversity in accents. Just accept it people!

    Reply
  • Jim Foster : Jun 10th

    Most thru-hikers will tell you it’s a north-south thing, with the dividing line roughly on the Mason-Dixon line. As a Pennsylvanian, I have fond memories of backpacking with southern friends and having friendly arguments about how to say Appalachian, grits vs. oatmeal, etc., etc.

    Reply
  • Ben Collins : Jun 10th

    To those who wrongly believe there is not a correct way to pronounce Appalachia, here is your argument:

    1. The word “Appalachian” is spoken in two ways.

    2. The ways they are spoken are divided (roughly) by region.

    3. Both spoken ways are “acceptable” or “should be accepted” — there is “no harm” in accepting both, it is “OK” to speak it either way (although you make the conjecture that “majority rules” and therefore it’s really “better” to go with the way you learned to speak it).

    Hopefully you agree with these statements so far.

    What seems clear is that the ORIGIN of the word has no bearing on your argument. The only origin that is relevant is the region it is spoken in. If the first time you hear it is one way, that’s the right way.

    This is the fundamental question — what is the origin of any word and any pronunciation? Should that matter in any regard or should we simply speak however we see fit and as long as we are understood, it’s all good?

    I’ll argue on your behalf, with:

    4. It does not matter how a word was spoken in the past. All that matters is how it is spoken in the present.

    5. If a word was spoken one way in the past and a different way in the future, that is part of an “acceptable” form of the evolution of language.

    The thrust of my counter argument, and my defeat of your logic is as follows: “It does not matter to you NOW how the word is spoken.”

    You see, it is the present tense that is so fundamental — the present tense that you claim is such an informative authority on the rightness or acceptableness of language pronunciation.

    So let me tell you a very short story in order to frame my own point. During the Colombian revolution, the occupiers could never quite figure out the correct way to say the word “Francisco” no matter how hard they tried to blend in as spies and land-takers. A famous general once rounded up a bunch of suspects and asked them to loudly pronounce the word. Any true local easily expressed the subtlety. All the rest were summarily thrown into the river to drown.

    Time and time again, history tells of of occupations and conquerors, where the locals know exactly how things are said and how to tell who is an outsider and who is an authenticlocal.

    “The locals cringe when they hear Appalachia pronounced differently than they way they would speak it.”

    I assure you, there are times and places when it matters how you say a word, when it matters that you are in your homeland or you are an invader. And should you dare to actually ask and wonder, just for the sake of argument, would the origin of the word actually be a way to know who is the enemy? To know who — if they were there — would have sympathized with the Trail of Tears? Who still to this day believes as those Men did, who might just not have any sense of time or history or humanity?

    So let me ask you this, if you can for a moment imagine being somewhere other than where you are now, what if, just for the sake of augment, you were helpless and staring at a sharp arrow notched in a tautly strung bow aimed straight at your throat, held in the very capable hands of a Cherokee and you were asked,

    “How do you say the word A-p-p-a-l-a-c-h-i-a-n?” The letters spelled out carefully for your previously deaf ears…

    I think we both know the answer.

    Reply
    • JS Leonard : Dec 20th

      You need to learn the language. The Native American tribe the region is named for didn’t have a SH in their language or dialects. http://www.native-languages.org/apalachee_guide.htm. If theyhad no SH the n there can be no SHUN, BUT they did have CH as in Chair. Learn the language learn and.know the correct pronunciation. a-puh-LATCH-uhn is the only way to properly pronounce it. Any other way goes against the language.

      Reply
  • Jud Barry : Jun 16th

    An answer in song form to my fellow southern Appalachians who wax pompous and self-righteous on this issue: https://soundcloud.com/dulciferous/appalachian-shibboleth

    Reply
  • Kay : Sep 21st

    I am a native born North Carolinian from the Southern Piedmont Region of the state. EVERYTIME time I hear actors on NCIS and other popular shows and news programs pronounce Appalachian I cringe. At least pronounce it like we do: “App-uh-latch-un”. The school by that name was known as Appa”LATCH”ian State Teachers College for many years and is now known as Appa”LATCH”ian State University. Please respect the “when in Rome” rule when referring publicly to that area of our state.

    Reply
  • MMMMM : Dec 26th

    Celeb, you’re an uneducated moron. I dont care where you’re from, you are pronouncing it incorrectly.

    Reply
  • Jakub Lonsky : Dec 28th

    I think this says it all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGCqWrsAZ_o

    Reply
  • Judith Inge : May 3rd

    The hills are in eastern Tennessee. Clarksville and Nashville are more to the west……it’s flatter there, really. How can a Kansan be a ‘hillbilly’ when all of Kansas I’ve seen (granted, not all of it) is flatter than a flitter.

    Reply
  • Dr H : May 26th

    Speaking as one who grew up there, neither pronunciation you have is correct.

    Everyone I know has always pronounced it “a-puh-LAY-Kuhn” or ”
    a-puh-LAY-ken” — the latter being closer to the way our school teachers taught us to say it.

    Reply
  • Rocky : Jul 6th

    Was in grade school in Goldsboro NC back in the 60’s. When we studied the state of North Carolina and it’s history and geography, Appalachian was pronounced with the LAY sound. My teachers were life long North Carolinians.
    Until very recently, I have never heard the word pronounced with the LATCH sound. But, it’s pretty much how all of us grew up hearing and saying the word.
    My mother pronounced Washington with a WARSH sound, I pronounce it with the WASH sound; even in our own household we disagreed on a pronunciation. So I guess, each to his/her own.

    Reply
  • Tara Dwyer : Aug 11th

    I always thought it was Appa-LAY-kin with a hard ch like in the word ache. So I guess I was wrong all around lol. Anyone else thought it was pronounced with a hard ch? I feel kinda dumb now bc I’m in my 40s and consider myself well read and rather well educated in basic pronunciation. Oh well…

    Reply
  • Anna : Oct 11th

    End of the day, it doesn’t matter where you heard whichever pronunciation or how long you’ve lived in a certain area. It’s redundant. If you want the true pronunciation, look at the native language. As every southern should know, Appalachian is Cherokee. There is no “long a” in Cherokee, so they would never say “lay”. Instead, they use the “latch” pronunciation. All in all, arguing online will get you nowhere. Take that information and do what you want with it. At least you know now.

    Reply
  • What He Said : Nov 14th

    I agree with Fuck You above.

    Reply
  • john hostetter : Jan 26th

    What a total waste of good energy.

    Reply

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