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In the holler

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 14, 2006

In Reply to: In the holler posted by Smokey Stover on November 14, 2006

: : : : "Make yourself comfortable," he says at his farm in the holler.

: : : : What's "in the holler" supposed to mean here?

: : : A holler is a hollows. Here's what the OED says, s.v. hollow. "2. spec. A depression on the earth's surface; a place or tract below the general level or surrounded by heights; a valley, a basin."

: : : Hollows, especially when they are called hollers, are primarily found along the Appalachisn Mountain chain in the souther U.S.
: : : SS

: : Holler is a phonetic spelling of an Appalachian pronunciation of hollow. A village in West Virginia, for example, might identify itself as a holler, after the surrounding geography.

: My post is a little misleading. The Southern Appalachians are not the only place with hollows, although they may be the only place where they are call hollers. I daresay most Americans would not be left in the dark by a phrase like "down in the hollow" or "down by the hollow." But whether to use that terminology or not is a local choice.

: Almost all Americans are somewhat familiar with "The legend of Sleepy Hollow," a location along the east bank of the Hudson River in which the hilly country presumably gave rise to lots of hollows. The actual name was invented by Washington Irving, the chronicler of the Dutch heritage in this part of the Hudson Valley. Need I mention Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman? The story was of sufficiently lasting popularity to have persuaded the village of North Tarrytown, NY, in 1996, to change the village name to Sleepy Hollow. I've driven through the town many times, day and night, on Route 9, without having seen the Headless Horseman. Perhaps I need to change my route. Or not.
: SS

There's a very well-known Welsh song, of which the English translation begins, "Men of Harlech, in the hollow,...." It is obvious that "hollow" has been well-known among the British as a physiographic feature, although I haven't seen examples of it being used in British place names.