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TABLE

Virginia Artist Jimmy Warner's

Virginia Dialect
(vuh-juhn’-yuh daah’-lek)


   First I wish to thank writer Elizabeth Carter Bissette for her, contribution to this
collection of expressions. She and I are not language experts but have experienced this dialect on a daily basis all of our lives. This work is far from complete as is most everything on my website and is presented in the hope of inspiring new works. That may already have happened in this case.  

   My database is not intended to be funny, it just is.  People who live in central and southern Virginia are a mixture of cultural influences with no clear explanation of how this speech pattern evolved. Europeans, Scotts, Irish, British, Africans and Native Americans have all participated in making up this dialect as they went along. This database does not mean to suggest that no one in the region speaks or understands American English, but there are exceptions and on this page are some of them.

   Also it is not my intension to suggest a preponderance of Black English influenced the common speech in the area. Seek elsewhere. In addition there are many unique subtleties of palatalization, softening of consonants and vowel sounds occurring
 

( carry – ex. kyeh me back)


   which I have found mainly in Eastern European tongues. That is not to suggest that Russian influence was wide spread. Occasionally one can hear these softened  consonants on fast talking broadcast radio and pop music recordings.

   Another cause of confusion was an earlier century’s debate over how to pronounce  and spell vowels followed by the letter R although that was largely in New England. Never-the-less, there were bound to be influences from other regions.
 

( across – ex. uh-krawlst' ) rare

   Perhaps this comes from Carolina or Appalachia, maybe from the shores to the mountains and back. My etymology skills and the true sense of this expression are lacking. I have heard settler's lingo in Northern VA as well.
 

( married – ex. mahrd ) rare


   Hollywood has often butchered southern dialects and is not aware of its own. I don’t mean southern drawl. I hear some aristocratic sounding expressions when old  Hollywood actors pretend to be aristocratic as if ‘to the manor born’, though to the plantation is more likely. Whenever a word accents er or ered you hear British or a faint German
öe, also y, ys endings become short i or eh. "Why, that's absurd, Bent-leh."
 

( absurd – ex. uhb-söed' )


   My favorite movie line is: "Let's go see the loonies."
 

( loonies – ex. loon'- iz )


   A British air still permeates the colonies. One might think that many allegiances are still owed to the royals of England for land grants and charters. Don’t call anyone a Tory. The Carolinians sure put some whupass on those redcoats.

   Bubba lingo is also part of this collection but is not the main focus.
 

( insurance – ex. in'-shurntz )


   There are far better sources for it than in this document. Be warned that it is not funny to poke fun or question one’s speech, native heritage or upbringing in a boastful, jocular manor. There is no telling where that activity may lead.  

   Other collections of spoken Virginia dialect have been published and may be more complete than mine. I have made a purely subjective offering and did not investigate or take from other publications except for perhaps the idea to make one. I was reading
Mario Pei’s language travel guides when I was 15 and have used similar pronunciation keys ever since. I could have used IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) but my computer does not have the font and American readers are not familiar with it anyway.

   I hope that visitors to our lovely realm will be prepared for the exceptions that are listed in this collection and find it to be of value when they hear them. Please get over it without making a fuss and stay out of redneck bars until you have adjusted.

Happy travels.   

                                                                                         Jimmy Warner ©
2015



Carry me back to ole Virginny:
There are a number of objectionable lines in that song, some of which are just plain wrong.
T'aint no cottin growin' hyeh.
 

KEY
 

Pronunciation Key
 

' accented syllable

a

as in bat  cat  sat

ah

as in father

aah

as if the word eye could be said in one sound instead of ah-ee (must be heard)

aw

as in lawn, saw, jaw

ee

as in feet  heat  reach

eh

as in get  set,  yet

ew

as in ewe  mew  few

I

(short i) as in  with, tid-bit  sip

in

as in in  fin  sin

oh

as in soda, show,  go

ow

as in cow, how, now

own

as in own, loan, flown

uh

as in unstressed vowels with stress such as ugly, other, up

ur

as in hurry urgent  worse, sometimes more British - öe (or Hollywood)

y

same as short I as in with, tidbit  sip, also substitutes for 'the'

y

palatalization, softens between consonant and vowel after c, g, h and m

r

often ignored, dropped, or changes a vowel sound 

rare

pronunciations that occur rarely

 

VIRGINIA DIALECT
 

PRONUNCIATION
 

absurd (uhb-söed')

after Broad becomes Rt. 250

(brawd street roh'-wid)

and there it was

(nairt wuhz)

any

(in'-ny)

area

(ur)

argue

(ah'-gyuh)

arial

(url)

aunt

(awnt)

avenue

(av'-nuh)

back there

(bak-gair')

barbecue

(bawb'-kew)

better

(buh'-duh)

bird

(buhd, böed)

birthday

(buht'-day)

boulevard

(boo-lee-vawd')

boy

(bwah)

Broad Street downtown

(brawd street')

brother

(buh'-buh)

buildings

(billins)

burned up

(buhnt' uhp)

business

(bin'-is)

butter

(buh'-duh)

call

(kawl)

can

(kin)

can't

(cain't)  (kan'g)

Capitol

(kyap'-tl)

car

(caw)

Carillon

(kur'-luhn)

Carl

(kawl)

Carolyn

(kur'-luhn)

carrot

(kyeht)  (kurt)

carry that

(kyeh dat)

carton

(caw'-tn)

cartoon

(caw-toon')

Cary

(kur)

Cavaliers

(ca-vuh-lee'-uhz)

charge

(chaw'-ij)

cherry

(chur)

child

(chaahl, chile)

children

(churn)  (cheer'-in)

chimney

(chimly)

church

(chuhch)

city

(sid'-eh)

colonial

(kuh-lohn'-yul)

come  (rare)

(kyuhm)

concern

(cuhn-suhn')

cool

(kewl)

County

(kyan'-y)

coupon

(kyew-pawn)

crayons

(cray-oh'-luhz)

crowns

(cray'-uhnz)

curious

(kyuhs)

daddy

(da'-yeh-dy)

darn it

(durn' -it, dawn'-it)

day before last

(day-foh-lass)

dear  (sugar)

(shuh'-guh)

defrost

(dee'-fross)

devorced

(d-vohst')

dick

(peh'-kuh)

display

(dis'-play)

down the road

(dan-y roh'-wid)

down there

(dan-air')

Edgar Allen Poe

(ed'-gal'-luhn-poh')

eleven

(lehb'-m)

era

(ur)

err

(ur)

error

(ur)

except

(suhp)

except  (rare)

(but sep)

extra

(ex'-tree)

eye

(aah)

fan district

(duh fan)

February

(fehb'-wur)

fifteen

(fit'-teen)

fifty-eight

(fit-date')

five

(faah'-b)

floor

(floh'-uh, floh)

food

(fewd)

four

(foh)

friend of mine

(frin'-uh maahn)

furniture

(fuhn'-y-chuh)

gal

(gel, gyal)

gallons

(gal'-yons)

General Assembly

(juhn'-ruhl suhm'-ly)

girl

(guhl)

go on

(gwown)

God damn

(got' da-yam)

golly

(gret day iny mawnin)

Good evening

(eeb'-nin, eev'-nin)

Good morning

(maw'-nin)

government

(guhb'-mint, guhm-it)

Governor

(guhv-nuh)

great

(greht)

great grandaddy

(greht' gray'-an da'-yeh-dy)

green beans

(snaps)

hair

(haah-uh)

half past

(hap'-pass)

Hanover

(han-oh'-vuh)

haven't

(hab'm)   (hem)

having

(ham)

Hawaii

(huh-wah'-yuh)

help

(hyehp)

Henrico (County)

(hen-reh'-kuh)

her

(huh)

here

(hyeh)

here come the

(hyeh cum'-my)

heritage

(hur'-dij)  (heh'-dij)

heroine

(hurn)

heron

(hurn)

Hi

(haah)

hill

(heel)

horses

(haw'sez)

house

(haah-uls, ha'-oos)

hundred

(huhn'-id)

hunting and fishing

(huhnd'-nin fish'n)

hurry

(her)

I

(aah)

I am building a

(aahm bil'-lin uh)

I'm going to

(aah' maw'n)   more nasal

in the

(in'-ny)

insurance

(in'-shurntz, in-shawnts’)

issue

(ish'-uh

it wasn't

(twuhnt)

it won't

(twont)

j

(jeh)

January

(jan'-wur)

Jimmy

(jim'-eh)

johnny

(jan'-eh)

July

(joo'-laah)

jury duty

(jur' doo-deh)

just

(juhs)

k

(keh)

kill

(keel) or (kee'-ool)

large

(lawj)

learn

(luhn)

Legislature

(luh'-juhs-slay-chuh)

lodge

(lawj)

many

(min'-ny)

March

(Maw'-itch)

married

(mayrd, murd)

Maryland

(mur'-lin)

Massachusetts

(mash-chew'-shets

merchandise

(much'-n dice)

military

(mil-dur')

milk

(myilk)

Mineral

(muhn'-ruhl)

Mississippi

(muhs-suh'-py)

Mister

(muh'-stuh, mis’-toh)

Monday through Friday

(mun'-ny thoo fraah-dy)

money

(mun'-ny)

Monroe

(muhn'-ruh)

mood

(mewd)

more

(moh)

mother

(muh-muh)

must have

(muh'-stuh)

my

(ma) or (muh)

negro

(nig'-ruh)

New York

(nyew yawk)

Newport News

(noo'-put nooz')

no

(naw)

Norfolk

(naw'-fuhk)

northeaster

(nor' ees'-tuh)

northern

(naw'-den)

number

(nuhm'-uh)

of the

(uh'-thuh, uh’vy)

oil

(awl)

on

(own)

other

(uh'-thuh)  (uh-vuh)

over there

(oh-vair')

personal

(puhs'-nuhl)

pork

(pohk)

Portsmouth

(porch'-mut)

Powhattan

(pow'-tan)

Powhite

(pow-aah't)

quarrel

(kwahl)

quarter to

(kwod' tuh)

quickly

laak Graynt' thoo Ruhch'-muhn

r

(ahr'-uh)

redneck

(ret neck)

remember

(muhm'-buh)

Richmond

(ruhch'-muhn)

right here, there

(raah chehr')

right yonder

(raah chon'-duh)

river

(ruh'-vuh)

route

(rowt)

Sargent

(saw'jnt)

Saturday

(sat-dy)  (sur'-dy)

Schools

(skewls)

senator

(suhn'-tuh)

September

(suhp-tuhm'-buh)

seven

(sehb'-m)

Sheryl

(shurl)

Shockoe Slip

(duh slip)

short

(shawt)

show

(shoh)

slow down brother

(woh buh'-buh)

sorry to hear about your

(sah-yd hyeh' bow choh)

soup

(sewp)

southern

(sud'-den)

Staunton

(stant'n)

Sunday dinner

(sun'-ny duhn'-uh)

sure

(shoh)

sure am

(shoh em')

tell me something

(tem'-my sump'm)

ten

(tin)

tend to it

(ten tuht)

Tennessee

(tuhn'-uh-see)

tenth

(tint)

test

(tess)

tewenty

(twin'-ny)

theatre

(thee'-ay-duh)

there isn't any

(tay-noh)

thirty

(thuh'-dy)

this here

(thuhs sheer)

thorough

(thur)

thoroughly

(thur'-ly)

threw

(thoo)

through

(thoo)

to   (rare)

(toh'-uh)

tour

(toh'-wuh)

towel

(tal, taahl)

turn

(tuhn)

twelve

(tweh'-uh, tway'-el, twehl)

university

(yoon-vuhs-ty)

up there

(up air')

urine

(yurn)

vegitable

(vezh'-tuhbl)

Virginia

(vuh-juhn'-yuh)

Virginian

(vuh-juhn'-yuhn)

w

(duh'-byuh)

wait a minute

(woh)

walk

(wawk)

want

(wohnt)

wander

(wuhn'-duh)

war

(waw)

warior

(woy-uh)

Washigton D. C.

(wah-shi-dn DEE' see)

water

(waw'-duh)

weather

(wuh'-thuh)

west

(wess)

when

(win)

where

(way-uh)

where are they

(weh day at')

where is the

(weh'-dy)

whether

(wehd)

whip

(wuhp)

win

(wee'-in)

wind

(wee'-in)

window

(wuhn'-duh)

winner

(win'-uh)

winter

(win'-uh)

with your

(wit choh)

wonder

(wuhn-duh)

won't

(wohnt)

yearn

(yuhn)

years

(yee'-uhz)

yes

(yeh)

yesterday

(yuhs-day)

you all

(yawl)

your

(yoh)



 


©Jimmy Warner Design, 2015

 

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