Fwd: Dittlers and dits

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Thu Mar 27 15:31:18 UTC 2008

Well, doncha know, I hadn't yet looked in DARE under "diddle," which I
believe covers this perfectly. "A duckling or baby chick—also used to
call such an animal." Dates back to at least 1899.


Begin forwarded message:
> From: Grant Barrett <gbarrett at worldnewyork.org>
> Date: March 27, 2008 11:24:12 EDT
> To: American ADS-L <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Dittlers and dits
> The fellow below submitted the following to the American Dialect
> Society web site a while back. I sent him an email asking if he'd
> like to be on my radio show. He said yes and his second email
> follows the first below.
> I found one other use of it so far, in Urban Dictionary of all places:
> http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dittler
> Otherwise, I've found no use of it elsewhere in the usual databases
> and web sites. Does anyone have anything on this? I've forwarded it
> to Joan Hall at DARE for the record.
> Thanks,
> Grant
> Begin forwarded message:
>> From: "J. Fred Calkins" <jfredcalkins at earthlink.net>
>> Date: November 25, 2007 13:21:05 EST
>> To: <woty at americandialect.org>
>> Subject: A regional word
>> When I moved into south eastern KY I discovered a dialectal word
>> which has caused me great curiosity. Perhaps the American Dialect
>> Society can shed some light on the origins and extent of this
>> particular word. 'dit' or 'dittler' is the preferred word to refer
>> to baby chickens or other dry land domestic fowl. If referencing
>> other than chicken the tendency is to put a prefix on the word
>> (turkey-dit). I have determined this word to be normal in Bell,
>> Harlan, and Letcher counties. It is understood in Wayne, McCreary,
>> Whitley, Knox, Clay and Leslie counties. It seems to be Normal in
>> the western tip of Virginia but fades when we get across the line
>> into TN. I am curious how far east it goes. Since the words are so
>> entrenched in this segment of Appalachian culture I am suspecting
>> some Old World connections. Alternatively it may come from the
>> American Indians. If you can shed any light on these terms I would
>> be very grateful. Even though I grew up calling baby chickens
>> 'chicks' (in central Michigan) I have found this an easy term to
>> add to my vocabulary.  I did not even blink when someone asked
>> about my children with the phrase 'How are your dits?'  Perhaps you
>> have some research or chronicling of this useful word. Fred
>> From: "J. Fred Calkins" <jfredcalkins at earthlink.net>
>> Date: December 27, 2007 06:25:28 EST
>> To: Grant Barrett <gbarrett at worldnewyork.org>
>> Subject: Re: A regional word
>> Grant, you don't offer me a bit of insight to this interesting word
>> yet offer me an opportunity to discuss it on air. I am what we call
>> in the mountains a preacher, I take any opportunity to talk I get.
>> I do try to keep to the subject but need to warn you that gospel
>> idioms thoroughly infect both my thoughts and words. It was, after
>> all, during my pastoral visitation rounds that I learned this word.
>> Another point of information you need to be aware of - the most
>> common chickens in this area are game. The abhorrence of some
>> toward that 'sport' is indicted by the laws against fighting
>> chickens (there are no laws against raising them). I serve a
>> district of Seventh-day Adventist churches, most of which are along
>> the southern half of I-75 in Kentucky.
>> Have a great day,  Fred

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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