Asheville, like many places where I have lived, has words and phrases that are unique to it. I was relieved to find out that that some of my well ingrained Texas phrases are acceptable here… “Howdy y’all” hardly gets a second look. What follows are a few words that I have been able to decipher… hopefully correctly… but I do not claim to be an expert.
If you need a translation for “Are you’ens fixin’ to tailgate in the 828 even if it’s airish? Yep, then we’ll head over the gap into the hollers and put some catheads in the poke over yander.” then keep reading.
15 Words I Learned in Asheville
828: Okay, so this isn’t a word, it is actually the area code for Asheville and the surrounding area, but it is used to describe being from the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Western North Carolina. It is an acceptable abbreviation for Asheville. “I’m from the 828”. It should also be noted that when someone gives you their phone number they leave off the 828 – just giving you a 7 digit phone number.
Tailgate: As mentioned in a previous blog, this has nothing to do with food before a football game. It is the term used for a farmers market.
Yander: Simple means yonder, which means a little ways away. “It’s just over yander”.
Fixin’: I first heard this widely used in Oklahoma, so maybe it’s a southern thing. It means something will happen soon. “It’s fixin’ to rain” or perhaps “I’m fixin’ to go to the tailgate.”
Cathead: A very large biscuit that is about the size of a cat’s head. Hence one of my favorite breakfast spots is called Biscuit head and they have delicious catheads.
Gap: Roads and trails often refer to a “gap”. This is what I would refer to as a “pass”. It is a low point between to mountains.
Holler: I think this is “hollow” with an Appalachian accent. It means the valley between two mountains.
Cove: This is a more narrow holler, closer to the mountain. A small valley between two ridge lines that is closed at one or both ends. Nothing to do with being near water. People often say, “I don’t like being in the coves because it’s too claustrophobic”.
Bald: A clearing in the mountains, especially on the top of a mountain. Max Patch is an example of a bald.
Busking: To play music or otherwise perform for donations in the street. It is such a popular activity in downtown Asheville that they began regulating it a few years ago.
Poke: If someone asks, “Would you like a poke?” This has nothing to do with a little jab in the ribs. They are asking you if you want a bag or sack.
Airish: It means that it’s cold and breezy outside. Sounds a bit like “Irish” to me, so you can imagine my confusion when someone said, “It’s just too airish for me today.”
You’ens: Local version of y’all. Means you and your group.
Jasper: An outsider or stranger. I am a Jasper.
Upstate: This was quite confusing to me, since I am from Upstate New York. Here, upstate is referring to South Carolina (which is south of here, huh?)
Now that you know the lingo, when are you’ens coming over yander to the 828?
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