southern appalachian


“Granny Witches”
- Granny women are purported to be healers and midwives in Southern Appalachia and the Ozarks, claimed by a few academics as practicing from the 1880s to the 1930s. They are theorized to be usually elder women in the community and may have been the only practitioners of health care in the poor rural areas of Southern Appalachia. They are fancied to not have expected or received payment, and were respected as authorities on herbal healing and childbirth. They are mentioned by John C. Campbell in The Southern Highlander and His Homeland.

Southern Appalachia Gothic
  • Everyone is kind. Everyone smiles. “Welcome, y’all.” The smiles stretch until there is only teeth in various numbers distracting you from the deadness in the eyes. “We are so glad you are here.”
  • There is banjo music playing. It is catchy. You search and search for the source. The music gets faster, pitch sharpening. At some point, a fiddle joins in. You are lost in the trees and there is only the music and the faint sound of someone stamping their feet.
  • “Rock me mama like a wagon wheel,” you sing. A woman appears. It is not your mama, but it is a mama. There is another and another. You are surrounded by mamas. “Bless your heart,” they chime.
  • You are hiking the mountains and there is a bear. It stares at you and you freeze, terrified to move. A bump at your feet distracts you. You are surrounded by opossums. Their black eyes shimmer and their pink noses smell your fear. You look back up. The bear is gone.
  • It is autumn and the color is everywhere. The tourists are here. The air smells like pumpkin and decay and you emerge from your home to forage. It is a thirty minute drive to food. You arrive in town two hours later. You are not sure where the lapsed time has vanished except that there is a whirl of cameras in every direction. Even the leaves will grow tired and flee in less than a month.
  • You buy sweet tea from five restaurants. Every cup tastes different. You go home and pour a glass. This cup is just right.
  • Nearby, a tourist attempts to speak the name of the mountain range. “Appa-” they start. They are still making “a” sounds. They have never left.

Why 1970s-1980s autistic girls went undiagnosed. (Opinion)


I’m going to expound on this, but sexism is at the heart of all of my ideas about why girls went undiagnosed in the earlier eras. I’m not only talking about sexism from other people, I mean the inherent sexism within societal structures and the girls internalized themselves.

Even now I struggle against my own internal mental sexism. But these attitudes were formed when I was a child. As a girl in my era, your concerns were not taken as seriously. This happens today as well. I read a study recently that said women who visit doctors, with the same symptoms as men, get taken seriously far less often. You can go Google it if you like, but it’s a thing that happens and there are multiple studies.

So when I had what we now know are sensory issues as a child, teen, and young adult, they merited an eyeroll and “Stop being so overdramatic!”. I can remember countless times I was told that things that bothered me only bothered me because I was overreacting, making a mountain out of a molehill, or “just being silly”. My experiences, as experienced by me, seemed less legitimate than my imagined experiences as believed by people like parents, teachers, and doctors. I internalized this somewhat. To the point that even now I have to fight it in my own head.

One of the best things about finding out about my autistic nature was being able to validate my own life experiences as experienced by me. Direct light really is horrible and I’m not bad for avoiding it. Wearing welder goggles to drive isn’t something I need to belittle myself for, and I should not let others tell me it’s stupid. Refusing to wear acrylic or polyester (even when gifted) isnt me being petty and rude. Giving back or refusing to eat a foodstuff I find horrid isn’t just me being an ass. Meltdowns aren’t something I’m doing *at* people cause I’m a jerk.

I realize that here on Tumblr, all these statements are like “duh. Of course”. But I want you to understand that almost every childhood experience I had with my issues made me feel like I was a petty, melodramatic, acting-out unnecessarily ass.

So why is this about sexism?

Because no man I’ve ever talked to has faced the same “overreacting drama queen” mindset, and many women have. Many men find it bizarre and absurd, much like how a white dude who has never been pulled over is shocked by how many times Trevor Noah of The Daily Show has been (many).

The experiences of women of my era were diminished. The idea that we are over-emotional by nature, tainted people’s perceptions of those of us with problems, even medical ones.

There is no reason, zero, to assume men are more inherently honest about their pain, emotions, and experiences, yet to trained medical professionals, they are assumed to be so. They are treated with more respect. This was even more true in the 1970s and 1980s than it is now.

Personal anecdote-

I have always hated melons. They have a weird aftertaste that, honestly tastes like something in vomit to me (also like cucumbers, which also make me vomit). Whenever they’re mixed with other fruits, they taint them with that melony taste. Neither my parents nor my grandparents (when they were alive) ever remembered or respected this preference. I would get eye rolls, and it would end up on my plate if I wasn’t insistent. Every year, every summer, I was asked to eat some, with people genuinely treating me as if I did not have enough self-knowledge to know I really *hated* it. Eye rolls, depreciating remarks (“You’re being ridiculous” “Don’t be so rude, just try some”) were the standard. My Gra, sweetheart though she is and quite elderly now, offered me some this year. The improvement now is that I don’t get teased about it anymore.

If my dad said he didn’t like something, it did not end up on his plate. If my husband said he didn’t like something, his parents knew and didn’t try to serve it to him. I have never been treated with the same amount of respect from the older generations as they treat the men.

I grew up in the southern, somewhat Appalachian US, and I don’t know if it’s more common there or not. I’d love to hear about other older autistic women’s experiences.

While my male peers had sensory issues, I was an overreacting female. While my male peers had social and linguistic difficulties, I was just a weird girl who nobody liked. While my male peers had “Special Interests”, I was just strangely obsessed with stuff sometimes. Every aspect of my autistic nature was belittled and minimized so I felt like a stupid woman with little self control.

I’m only self diagnosed, so my own doubts about my experience and knowledge plague me and cause me difficulties. I still have a voice in my own head saying “Maybe you’re just being overdramatic.”. My own mental voices belittle and diminish me, an inheritance from my childhood I am trying to fight. But every time I read an autistic Tumblr post or blog and think “Oh my gosh, that’s me!” It reinforces that my experiences are valid, that this diagnosis creates a framework where in my entire life makes sense. I am not stupid. I am not bad. I am autistic, and that label helps me understand myself and start to love and forgive myself and others.

Autistic Pride starts here, and it’s a route to self respect.


The Five-Minute Linguist talks from the LSA are now online! These short, accessible lightning talks were a new feature of the annual meeting of 2017 and attracted a great crowd of people. 

The eight speakers and topics (not in order) were: 

  • Carina Bauman (New York University): Back GOAT in Asian American English
  • Rachel Steindel Burdin (University of New Hampshire): This you call a rise fall?
  • Rabia Ergin (Tufts University): Emergence of verb classes in a young village sign language
  • Jeff Good (University at Buffalo): Local dynamics to high level Patterns in Bantu
  • Heidi Harley (University of Arizona): Node sprouting and root suppletion in Korean
  • Kirk Hazen (West Virginia University): Southern vowels and shifting Appalachian identities
  • Carmel O'Shannessy (University of Michigan): What do children do in contact induced language change?
  • Gregory Scontras (Stanford University): Subjectivity predicts adjective ordering preferences

The emcee was John McWhorter, and the judges were myself, Ben Zimmer, Michael Erard, W.A. Brenner, and an audience poll. I’m not going to post the winner here, so you can watch and judge your favourite for yourself!

Can we have a round of applause for the southern accents in Midnight, Texas? Like seriously.

The main reason I never got into True Blood was that the main characters’ accents were so fake and overexaggerated that it made me want to claw my own face off, and tbh given the way most shows tend to depict all southern characters as some hideous mix between the accents of Texas, lower Alabama, and Tennessee…I was not hopeful.

Thankfully, the actors in MT seem to know what they’re doing.

Special shoutouts to Dylan and Parisa, because their accents in particular are on point.

people are SO condescending towards Appalachia… like the North/South rivalry is one thing but the attitude towards the Appalachians by both Northerners and Southerners (mostly Yankees tho) is so superior and nasty and based on unfair stereotypes (started & perpetuated by sensationalist writers & journalists looking for a story)

like never mind the fact that Appalachia has provided so much for the country, both through natural resources and culture (music, literature, folklore, oral tradition, art, etc). ignore the fact that we’re behind much of the country in business and education because outside corporations used economic exploitation to take advantage of and manipulate a largely agrarian society.

instead of understanding the difficult history and appreciating the rich culture of the area, why don’t we just make fun of them for the way they talk!!

Southern Witches & Wizards

I’ve been reading everyone’s awesome headcanons and I really wanted to make my own because there are so many possibilities! Just imagine…

- Southern witches cursing anyone who even hints at making fun of their accent. The curse? They have to talk in the most exaggerated Southern accent possible for the next 24 hours.

- Louisiana born witches and wizards secretly practicing voodoo and running under the table businesses for voodoo dolls. But anytime someone else attempts to make one it mysteriously never works.

- Southern gentlemen wizards who purposely fail at duels with witches because they’ve grown up their whole lives learning “you never duel a lady”.

- Southern witches and wizards having a hard time acclimating to the cold North. And their Northern/Canadian friends making fun of them for their “thin blood” but teaching them different warming spells because they want them to actually like the North.

-Southerners who are really good at potions because their grandmothers/grandfathers grew all their own ingredients.

-Southern Appalachian witches and wizards who are scarily good at healing because their ancestors had been “water witches”.

 -Or Southern witches and wizards not being even remotely phased by any of the scary creatures in class because the South in chock full of them (Rougarous, skunk apes, Altamahaha).

-Southerners having a reputation for being really proficient flyers because they live in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do.

- Young Southerners who come from old wizarding families but are NOT having any of that “pure blood”nonsense. 

Guys I’m going to stop now but I could go on!

Day 86: Monsters of the Ozarks: The Side-Hill Hoofer

One of the more unusual Ozark monsters is the side-hill hoofer, a creature that is supposedly built to be able to run sideways along the hills and hollers. Vance Randolph gives a lengthy description of the creature:

“Most of the backwoods yarn-spinners have something to say about the side-hill hoofer. According to one common version of the tale, the hoofer is similar to a beaver in appearance, but much larger, about the size of a yearling calf. It lives in a burrow on some steep hillside. This animal always runs around the hill in the same direction, since the legs on one side of its body are longer than those on the other side. If by any accident the hoofer falls down into the flat country it is easily captured, since on level ground it cannot walk or run at all. The female lays eggs as big as water-buckets, and one egg will furnish breakfast for twenty-five men. ‘But they taste kind of strong,’ an old man said soberly.

"My old friend Hawk Gentry, veteran White River guide, remarked that the side-hill hoofer is 'kind of like a kangaroo, only built sideways,’ Gentry says that some of them run around the hill clockwise, the others anti-clockwise, and there’s an awful fight when the two varieties meet; they can’t easily dodge one another, for the hoofer can only move around the hill, and goes up or down by means of long gradual curves. In other words, a hoofer can run rapidly on one level, but it’s difficult for him to gain or lose altitude. These creatures sometimes attack men, although they feed only upon vegetable matter. It is easy for a man to avoid the hoofer’s attack, since he need only walk straight uphill or straight downhill for a few steps. They say that when a hoofer falls over on its side it is unable to get up, and just lies there and screams until it starves to death. Many are killed by falling off hillsides, and I have heard of a hollow in Marion County, Arkansas, which is half full of hoofer bones.

"There are old tales also of the side-hill slicker and the side-hill walloper, but I have been unable to learn much about these creatures. It may be that they are identical with the side-hill hoofer.”

Henry H. Tryon mentions a similar creature in his “Fearsome Critters”:

“We’ve had a good bit of perceptibly acrimonious discussion as to the correct vulgate name of this engaging little animal. Some Easterners say 'Side-hill Badger,’ some Californians insist that 'Side-hill Winder’ is correct, there are some vigorous proponents of 'Godaphro,’ 'Prock,’ and 'Side-hill Wowser,’ while a few technical parties claim that 'Gyascutus’ is the one and only. The majority, of the pleadings are in favor of the 'Gouger,’ so We’ll stand on that.

"Always a dweller in hilly county. He has to be, since his nigh legs are shorter than the off pair. There are six to eight pups in a litter, and once in a great while some of them arrive with the relationship reversed. After being weaned, these sports are rarely seen again by their orthodox-legged, brothers and sisters. Normal Gougers must obviously, travel around the hillside, and in making their daily rounds for food they wear the characteristic, partly gouged-out paths so familiar to woodsmen. These paths were once very common in New England, but to-day they are thought to be most frequently seen in the partly forested regions of the West.

"I am indebted to Mr. Bill Ericsson of North Haven, Maine, (and various other points) for the following account of how the Gouger population migrated from New England, 'It Seems,’ said Bill, 'that the Gouger population was getting too thick. There warn’t enough food to go around and somebody just had to move out. A pair of these ambitious little varmints, one orthodox, one abnormal-legged, got together and decided to strike out for a new location. Of Course they could navigate on the hillsides and slopes all right; but they knew mighty well they’d bog down, on the flats, so when they struck level going they just leaned against each other with the longer legs outermost, sort of like a pair of of drunks going home from town.’ This mighty smart adaptation of a natural deformity took them well across the Central States and made it possible for them to found the Gouger Colonies now existing in the West.

"The well-known Chinese ecologist, Dr. He Hop Hi, has piled together much interesting data, on the now extinct Gouger colonies in northwestern Nebraska. There is ample evidence that many years ago the chalk bluffs in this area were populated by numerous such colonies. Careful excavations have revealed successive superposed Gouger civilizations whose arrangement closely resembles those uncovered in the ancient Greek Cities by Drs. Tsountas and Manatt. Following centuries of existence here, these animals became geared to travel solely on the south slopes where food was plentiful. But a great climafic shift took place, with the Virginian element pushing northward and limiting the accustomed food supply to the northern slopes. The Gougers migrated thence, but, while food was plentiful travel was impossible. Fossil remains prove clearly that they rolled to the bottoms of the slopes and starved.

"M. decl. var. semihirsutus
This sub-species is found only in the extremely steep hills in West Virginia and to some extent southward in the southern Appalachians. He is similar in most respects to M. declivitatis save that constant brushing of the nigh side against the steep slopes has worn the fur entirely away, leaving the hide so beautifully tanned and polished that it fetches an unbelievably high price for alligator suitcase stock. The off, or downhill side wears a thick thatch of shaggy, curly brown hair much like buffalo pelt Col. Harry S. Knight of Camp Wood, Arizona is authority for the statement that 'a Sidehill Gouger is jest a burrowin’ buffalo, sized down and growed crooked.”

"M. decl. var. robustissimus
Another variant species, the Yamhill Lunkus, is not uncommon in Oregon. This is a far larger and more powerful animal than either of the foregoing species. It has now and then been domesticated for farm work. Mr. G. C. L. Snyder gives an interesting account of a visit to Ab Eades’ farm on Peavine Ridge where a pair had been broken to draft work, 'The Lunki,’ says Mr. Snyder, 'were the size of a nine months old calf, with a neck about as long as a piece of rope. The sturdy legs were normally arranged, but they could be turned about so the animals could travel just like anything in reverse.’

"Mr. Eades was clearing up a piece of land. He had four big owls (Bubo eruditus) trained to carry a rope around the top of a tree to be removed. The Lunki were yoked to this rope, and with one easy heave out would come the tree, roots and all.”