Part 2: Appalachian English and Language Diagnosis

It are, not it is.

A-runnin', not running.

Them apples, not those apples.

Millions of residents of the mountainous regions of Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia speak a well-documented dialect: Appalachian English (AE). This dialect features phonetic and grammatical differences from American English; however, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has stated that no dialectal variety of English is a disorder or a pathological form of speech or language.

In short, difference is not disorder.

Because many standardized tests utilize American English without adaptations for other dialects, there is the possibility of misdiagnosis if clinicians don't account for dialectal difference. Appalachian English includes distinctive grammatical differences that should be considered during language testing.

For example, in the first line of this article, the verb form of "to be" is conjugated differently than in standard forms, particularly in the past tense. In addition, "was" is much more likely to be used in all cases regardless of plurality rather than "were." In the second line of this article, a notable feature of Appalachian English is the insertion of the a-prefix for verbs, particularly present progressive forms such as the one featured above. In the third example included in this article, pronouns are often used distinctively, with the insertion of "them" for "those," as well as the use of the suffic -uns for plural pronouns, such as "you-uns" for "you."

Other dialectal differences that may affect standardized language scores include differences in irregular past tense forms ("knowed" for "knew"), possessive pronoun forms ("yourn" for "yours"), and negatives ("I don't have none"). In addition, Appalachian English features a wide range of characteristic vocabulary that may not feature in standardized testing for language usage.

Appalachian English stands as one of the most distinctive and historic American dialects. If you and/or your family speak with an Appalachian English dialect, talk with one of our clinicians during a language evaluation to learn more and ensure the dialect is considered during diagnostic decision-making about language use.


Garn-Nunn, P.G., and Perkins, L. (1999) Appalachian English and Standardized Language Testing: Rationale and Recommendations for Test Adaptation. Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders, v. 26, 150-159.Appalachian English and Standardized Language Testing: Rationale and Recommendations for Test Adaptation (