Dittlers and dits

Thu Mar 27 15:53:32 UTC 2008

        Not known to me from growing up and raising chickens in Adair
County, Kentucky, two counties northwest of Wayne County.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Grant Barrett
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2008 11:24 AM
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:


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.



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

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

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