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William Shakespeare

Word Watch: 'A-looking' Into Appalacian Use Of 'Hit' For 'It'

Word Watch: 'A-looking' Into Appalacian Use Of 'Hit' For 'It'

Meander through the hills and hollows of Appalachia and you're likely to encounter a palpable "hit" — hearing a native speaker say "hit" for "it," e.g., "Hit looks like rain."

This insertion of the "h" sound at the beginning of "it" is a linguistic fossil — a remnant of an older English form that has since died out among most speakers.

As a note in the American Heritage Dictionary points out, the original form of the singular neutral pronoun in Old English was not "it" but "hit."

Though gradually replaced by "it," "hit" survived well into the Elizabethan...