I recently was invited to talk about my book on the Sunbury Press Book Show on the #BookSpeakNetwork Podcast. I am not an accomplished public speaker, so I was very nervous. I know the reason.
As a Yinzer from the hills around the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, I catch myself saying regional words that might be confusing to those who don’t live here. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.
For example: I remember when I was in grade school. The word CHIMNEY was on my third-grade spelling list. I had never heard of a chimney, though I had often heard the word CHIMLEY. LOL. So I learned the “right way” to say and spell the word.
But where did the word chimley come from, and why do they say it in my neck of the woods? There are many instances of the word coming from Scotland and Northern England, but my ancestors are from France and Germany. I’ve searched for references, but could find nothing.
Other sources of the word chimley
Here are some sources found on the Ulster-Scotts Academy website:
chimbley, chimley n A chimney. [oed chimbley, chimley n Scottish and dialect; dost chimlay n 1540→; snd chimbley, chimley n; dare chimbley n A chiefly South, Midland]
1829 McSparran Irish Legend 294 Out of the chimley she goes like a wild goose.
1880 Patterson Antrim/Down Glossary 18 chimley = a chimney.
1886 Lyttle Ballycuddy 43 They put anither big sod on the chimley so as nae licht cud get in.
1928 McKay Oul’ Town 64 His next move was to pelt stones down widow Rooney’s ‘chimbley’, an’ if he didn’t break her teapot.
1981 Pepper Ulster-English Dict 18 That’s the second time this week the chimley’s went on fire.
1837 Sherwood Georgia Provincialisms 118 chimbly = chimney.
1939 Hall Coll Boys, you’uns [are] talkin’ about rough country, but I’m going to tell you one time the roughest country I was in. It was so steep the people had to look up the chimley to see if the cows was still in the pasture.
1969 GSMNP-38:62 They had it about all finished except the chimbley.
So, you see, chimley is not a made up word spoke by unintelligent hill folk. It has a very long history and is perfectly fine to say. I try not to say it simply because it is ancient and has fallen out of favor, though one day at Carnegie Mellon University, it slipped out. Old habits die hard. I just laughed, and called myself a hick. One colleague from Italy didn’t know the word hick either. I confused him completely.
But what does this have to do with the #BookSpeakNetwork Podcast?
Nothing… So here’s the interview.