Boontling

boontersBoontling has received worldwide interest as a linguistic phenomenon.  In the late 1800’s, 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. It is believed that the language either originated with men in logging camps or the women and children working in the hop fields and eventually spread to become the spoken word for most valley residents. Today, the language is dying and most of the fluent “boonters” are in their elder years.  However, The Boonting Club, Anderson Valley Historical Society, and many local businesses (including Anderson Valley Brewing Company) work to keep the language alive. Listed below are some common Boontling terms:

  • Apple Head: A girl friend.
  • Bahl Hornin’: This means “good drinking” and is a way of saying “cheers”leeber
  • Bahlest: excellent or great
  • Barney Flats: Hendy Woods National Forest. A spectacular forest of virgin redwoods, located in Anderson Valley
  • Boont: Boonville. The largest community and focal center of Anderson Valley. Also short for “Boontling”
  • Brightlighter: a city dweller, tourist
  • Buckeye: to relax, loiter; a vacation
  • Burlappin’: the act of sexual intercourse
  • 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
  • Frattey: wine (“Frattey shams” would be vineyard)
  • Gorm: food, to eat
  • Hairymouth:  a dog
  • Harp: to speak Boontling
  • Heelch: a large amount of something (derived from “the whole cheese”)tishin-nook
  • Jape: to drive a car
  • Jeffer: a large fire (A Boonter named Jeff built large fires in his fireplace.)
  • Kimmie: A man or father
  • Mink: a woman or girl
  • Mollies: a woman’s breasts
  • Neeble: no good, worthless
  • Pike: A hike or stroll
  • Poleeko: Philo. The second largest town in Anderson Valley, located 6 miles west of Boonville. (During elections in the early days, town issues were decided by a narrow margin of votes. Boonters said they “eeked it out at the polls” hence they became known as “poll eekers”)
  • 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.)deep-enders

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)