A large proportion of Appalachian place names were drawn from the geography of Britain with a heavy bias toward the border region. The most common British county name in Appalachia was Cumberland the extreme northwestern county in England. There was a Cumberland town in western Maryland, a Cumberland River in Tennessee, the Cumberland Mountains in Kentucky, Cumberland Knob in North Carolina, Cumberland Gap through the Appalachians, and Cumberland counties in most states throughout this region. The name had a double appeal to English borderers, for it also commemorated the Duke of Cumberland who broke their ancient highland enemies at the battle of Culloden...

A large proportion of Appalachian place names were drawn from the geography of Britain with a heavy bias toward the border region. The most common British county name in Appalachia was Cumberland the extreme northwestern county in England. There was a Cumberland town in western Maryland, a Cumberland River in Tennessee, the Cumberland Mountains in Kentucky, Cumberland Knob in North Carolina, Cumberland Gap through the Appalachians, and Cumberland counties in most states throughout this region. The name had a double appeal to English borderers, for it also commemorated the Duke of Cumberland who broke their ancient highland enemies at the battle of Culloden.

The distribution of these place names defined the cultural boundaries of a region that was called the "back settlements" or the "backcountry" or simply the "back parts" in the eighteenth century. Scarcely anyone thought of it as a "frontier" in Frederick Jackson Turner's sense during the first two centuries of American history. The fact that it was thought to be "back" rather than "front" tells us which way the colonists were facing in that era.33


The Colonial Mood: Anxiety and Insecurity in the Back Settlements

A backcountry gentleman was once heard to pray, "Lord, grant that I may always be right, for thou knowest I am hard to turn."' This supplication captured the prevailing cultural mood in the back settlements, which were profoundly conservative and xenophobic. The people of this region were intensely resistant to change and suspicious of "foreigners." One student of the Appalachian dialect found that "the word foreigner itself is used here [in Appalachia] in its Elizabethan sense of someone who is the same nationality as the speaker, but not from the speaker's immediate area." All the world seemed foreign to the backsettlers except their neighbors and kin.


Speech Patterns
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