Boontling

Boontling has received worldwide interest as a linguistic phenomenon. A few of the words you might see or hear while in Anderson Valley include: bahl gorms (good food), buckey walter (pay phone), pike (to walk or travel), rookie-to (quail), harp (to talk or speak), horn of zeese (cup of coffee) and Boont (Boonville).

Around the turn of the century, Anderson Valley was a very isolated farming and logging community. To pass the time (and have a little fun at it), the locals began to use self-developed terms. The language originated with the women and children workers in the hop fields and eventually spread to become the spoken word for most valley residents. Today, with most fluent “boonters” in their elder years, the Boonting Club, Historical Society and many local businesses work to keep the language alive. Listed below are some common Boontling terms:

  • Aplenty Bahl Steinber Horn: Really great beer.
  • Apple Head: A girl friend.
  • Bahlest: excellent or great
  • Bahl Hornin’: good drinking
  • Barney Flats: Hendy Woods National Forest. A spectacular forest of virgin redwoods, located in Anderson Valley.
  • Belk Region: Bell Valley. A scenic valley located just beyond the baldies, northeast of Boonville. It was here in the hop fields, during the turn of the century, that the language of Boontling originated.
  • Boont: Boonville. The largest community and focal center of Anderson Valley. The town where the language of Boontling originated. Now famous for its local brewery.
  • Bucky: A nickel (A politically incorrect reference to the Indian head).
  • Bucky Walter: A telephone
  • Charlie Ball: To embarrass (A local indian of this name was easily embarrassed).
  • Deep Enders: Residents of the town of Navarro, located due west of Anderson Valley and bordering the Pacific Coast.
  • Heelch: A large quantity.
  • High Rollers: Residents of the town of Yorkville, the smallest town in Anderson Valley. Located 10 miles east of Boonville.
  • Horn: A drink; to drink. (Dialectal.)
  • Jeffer: A large fire. (A Boonter named Jeff built large fires in his fireplace.)
  • Kimmie: A man or father
  • Shoveltooth: A doctor; an M.D. (A local doctor was so nicknamed because he had protruding teeth.)
  • It’s not just shy sluggin’ gorms neemer: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.
  • It’s a slow lope’n a beeson tree: Literally a comfortable pace on a horse, while sitting on a very comfortable saddle. Commonly referred to mean “a mellow ride.”
  • Pike: A hike or stroll
  • Poleeko: Philo. The second largest town in Anderson Valley, located 6 miles west of Boonville.
  • Rudy nebs: pristine, mineral rich, well water.
  • Tidrik: A party; a social gathering. (Probably from “tea drink,” a dialectal expression meaning the same thing.)
  • Yink: boy or son
  • Zeese: Coffee. (A local hunter-camp cook nicknamed Zeese, from his initials Z.C., made bitterly strong coffee.)

To learn more about the story and people behind Boontling, check out these video links:

Boontling: A Lost American Language (Yahoo)

Boontling in Boonville (YouTube)

Here’s a clip of  Brewmaster Fal Allen interviewing our own Rod Dewitt about the origins of Boontling and how we work to keep it alive here in the Valley.