There’s one way to identify yourself as an outsider to residents of Appalachia: Pronounce it “Appa-lay-shun.” That got one college football referee in trouble on Saturday.
App State—fresh off taking then-No. 10 Penn State to overtime in Happy Valley the week before—faced Charlotte over the weekend. Because App State is a lower-level football powerhouse, their fans traveled well. The Charlotte Observer’s David Scott wrote that “a good portion of the fans [were] wearing Appalachian State gold and black.”
Late in the first half, App State took a timeout. Referee Stephen LaMantia announced it to the crowd. “Timeout,” he said. “Appa-lay-shun State.” The crowd full of Appalachian State fans was immediately up in arms, booing and jeering the ref.
Though it’s used enough that “Appa-lay-shun” is obviously an acceptable pronunciation for the region/adjective, it’s frowned upon by actual residents of the area. They prefer “Appa-latch-un.” Pronouncing it “appa-lay-shun” is how outsiders say it.
It’s a serious thing! Alexa, clearly a Yankee, doesn’t recognize the Appa-latch-un pronunciation. Longtime Appalachian novelist Sharyn McCrumb explains it: “Appa-lay-shuh is the pronunciation of condescension, the pronunciation of the imperialists, the pronunciation of the people who do not want to be associated with the place and the pronunciation Appa-latch-uh means that you are on the side that we trust.”
Who knew college football could teach such an important pronunciation lesson? Clearly spurred on by the slight of the referee, App State won the game, 45-9.