Kentucky was a fought-over hunting ground for Ohio Shawnee, Carolina Cherokee, and Mississippi Chickawaw Indians, Place-names from this heritage include Etowah (Cherokee) and Paducah (Chickasaw).

Speech patterns in the state generally reflect the first settlers' Virginia and Kentucky backgrounds. South Midland features are best preserved in the mountains, but some common to Midland and Southern are widespread.

Other regional features are typically both South Midland and Southern. After a vowel, the /r/ may be weak or missing. Coop has the vowel of put, but root rhymes with boot . In southern Kentucky, earthworms are redworms, a burlap bag a tow sack or the Southern grass sack, and green beans snap beans . A young man may carry, not escort, his girlfriend to a party. Subregional terms appear in abundance. In the east, kindling is pine, a seesaw

is a ridyhorse, and the freestone peach is an openstone peach . In central Kentucky, a moth is a candlefly .

In 2000, 96.1% of all residents five years old and older spoke only English at home, down from 97.5% in 1990.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other West Germanic languages" includes Dutch, Pennsylvania Dutch, and Afrikaans.


Population 5 years and over 3,776,230 100.0
Speak only English 3,627,757 96.1
Speak a language other than English 148,473 3.9
Speak a language other than English 148,473 3.9
Spanish or Spanish Creole 70,061 1.9
German 17,898 0.5
French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 12,499 0.3
Chinese 4,608 0.1
Japanese 3,777 0.1
Korean 3,730 0.1
Other West Germanic languages 3,616 0.1
Arabic 3,165 0.1
Serbo-Croatian 3,070 0.1
Vietnamese 3,018 0.1
Russian 2,162 0.1
Tagalog 2,070 0.1