Over Yonder

Appalachian Americans have a language that’s all our own. In the late 90s I left my home in the Appalachian Mountains to find work. I went to Maryland and took a job as a framer in a prefab housing plant along with a group of people from my home area. Most of the people who were with me were people whom I had known for years and worked with before. We had pretty efficient crew and nearly tripled the production of the opposite shift. But the good folks in Maryland didn’t quite pick up on some of the Appalachian Dialect that we spoke among ourselves. It’s English language but we have a tendency to use archaic phrases that people outside of our Mountains “ain’t really able to get a handle on”. One such phrase is the word “Yonder”. When used in context it generally means “over there” and is normally accompanied by a subtle nod of the head towards the direction of the subject being spoken of. While working at the job site we had a supervisor who was raised near the coast and had never heard of the word yonder before. Bob was actually one of nicest people who I’ve ever met. He had lent his hammer out to one of the “hillbillies” who had left his at home and the worker misplaced it. Bob inquired as to the whereabouts of his favorite hammer and the reply came back that it was “yonder”. Puzzled by the answer but not wanting to look bad in the eyes of the Appalachian crew Bob began to search on his own. This quickly became a game with my coworkers. Each person asked about the hammer replied with “yonder”. After about an hour of searching Bob came to me and asked if I would please let him know which direction was “yonder”. I simply smiled and replied “Bob, everybody knows that yonder is the opposite of “nigh””. (meaning near by) I quickly went back to work hammering away at wall I was building. Poor Bob just stood there blinking. Eventually we let him off the hook by returning his beloved hammer along with buying his lunch.

21 thoughts on “Over Yonder

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