While Boontling helped Anderson Valley community members establish a sense of regional pride and privacy, schoolchildren in the area also learned the language as part of their studies. Because so few people outside of the immediate area understood the dialect, some locals used its terms to confuse athletic opponents or sneak military messages past censors.
Those who take a pike (stroll) or buckeye (vacation) to Anderson Valley today might have a hard time finding a fluent Boontling speaker. Yet, they won’t find a shortage of locals and historians with an interest in the homemade language. The Anderson Valley Historical Society maintains a photographic and informational history of the language and terminology, and “Boontling: An American Lingo,” a 1971 book by Charles C. Adams, a Boontling authority, also explores the history of the dialect while outlining many of its terms.
It’s no secret that Anderson Valley is perfect for bahl hornin’ (good drinking), but ongoing interest in Boontling also makes it a major draw for history buffs. So, next time you have a hankering to snag some chiggle (food) or down some frattey (wine), hop in the car, grab your best kimmies (men) or apple heads (girlfriends) and make your way to the birthplace of Boontling.
Want to listen to Boontling in conversation? Writer Russ Johnson interviewed a few old timers and recorded it as captured in this Connected Traveler podcast.