2a: Appalachia & Tangier Island

When tracing the slow evolution of the English language from pre-Colonial times to the modern varieties of American English found throughout the continent, it comes as no surprise that those secluded, undisturbed communities preserve the older strains of speaking.

Two places—one a region, the other a town—offer glimpses into such antiquated versions of English. The first is the Appalachian mountains and the people, sometimes referred to as “hillbillies,” who live there preserve the manner of speech common to the people of Colonial times. This is due to their having removed themselves into relative seclusion in the mountains during the initial expansion of the United States eastward at the beginning of the 19th century.

Though their pronunciation is often mocked as being uneducated, the people of the Appalachians actually speak in a way that was once common throughout all the states in Joseph Smith’s day. For samples of this older way of speaking watch this video:

The second place is an isolated town set on an island situated off the coast of Virginia called Tangier. The speech there is also an artifact of early Colonial speech. Of particular note is their peculiar sentence-level intonation, which is low and rumbly, and somewhat reminiscent of that New England accent so memorably used by President John F. Kennedy, an older form of speaking closer to that which Joseph Smith may have spoken. Watch this video to hear what Tangier English sounds like:

This modern artifacts are interesting, but do we have any way of conclusively tying this type of English to Joseph Smith?

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