Sounds like home

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Try your tongue at some commonly mispronounced North Carolina localities. Big cities have been added for geographic context, as has US 64, a highway that runs the length of the state.

Local flair

Tuckasegee Nantahala Asheville Cherryville Charlotte Greensboro Uwharrie Buies Creek Raleigh Rocky Mount Tarboro Ahoskie Conetoe Pasquotank Corolla Manteo Rodanthe Ocracoke Wilmington Check your proninciation on the next page!



US 4

US 64


US 64

Here’s how locals pronounce their town names—

Local flair

tuck-a-SEE-gee nan-tuh-HAY-luh ash-vill churr-vuhl shar-lott greens-burr-oh oo-aa-ree BOO-ees creek RAW-lee rocky MOUNT tar-burr-oh ah-HOSS-ke kuh-nee-tuh PAS-qua-tank kuh-rah-la man-tee-oh row-dan-thee oh-krah-kowk wil-muhng-tn How’d you do? It’s a little harder than it looks, isn’t it?




US 64


US 64


This project’s primary goal is to explore some of the intricacies of the dialect regions of North Carolina. In order to do this, the book will have three sections: one for each of the geographic regions of the state. The maps at the beginning of each section are removeable in the hopes that you will use them as tools to further contextualize North Carolina’s dialects.



the Appalachian Mountains

Appalachian Highlands Vocabulary Being part of the greater Southern United States, the dialect shares many of the same terms of the South. In its relation to south of the Midland, it has several terms in common with its North Midland counterpart, including poke (paper bag), hull (to shell), and blinds (shutters). Certain German-derived words such as smearcase (cottage cheese), however, are present in the North Midland dialect but absent in the Appalachian dialect.

Appalachian Highlands Grammar Appalachian grammar is pretty similar to other grammatical structures in the south, but a few noteable features include aprefixing, the word "liketa," and double nouns. This is far from exhaustive, but gives a pretty good image of what Appalachian grammar can be.

‘‘Un,’’ meaning one, is often combined with other words—like ‘‘young’un,’’ meaning child/ young one.

Liketa functions as an adverb and occurs before the past form of a verb, having the same meaning as ‘‘o the verge of.’’ Someone might say ‘‘it it liketa scared me to death."

Some nouns are spoken in pairs, the second nound describing the first, like ‘‘hound dog,’’ or ‘‘rifle gun.’’

The a-prefix has been found to occur most frequently as a stylistic device in storytelling, like ‘‘a-running.’’

Appalachian Highlands Phonetics Appalachian phonetics are also very similar to other patterns in the south. A number of changes are taking place in the Appalachian Mountains, like the pen/pin merger and the Southern vowel shift. Both of these linguistic changes are at some of their most visible in the Appalachains. Pronouncing ‘‘tire’’ like ‘‘tar,’’ ‘‘red’’ as ‘‘rey-ud,’’ and so forth.

Before L sounds the vowel may be neutralized, leading words like fail and fell to sound alike.

‘‘Pen’’ and ‘‘pin’’ are pronounced the same.

Appalachian Highlands Towns The western part of the state is fairly sparsely populated save for a few larger towns and cities. This is part of why folks who speak with the Highlands dialect may sound so different from one another—in very rural areas, not a lot of linguistic blending takes place.


the Piedmont

An unspecified distance


NC 15-501, or the basketball rivalries between Piedmont schools NC State, UNC, and Duke A knit or wool cap worn in the cold or snow Turn (lights, water, etc) off Preparing, about to

Piedmont Vocabulary Both piedmont dialect regions in North Carolina have distinct cultural vocabularies, some of which relates directly back to the distinct cultural identities in central North Carolina. Of course, much of this vocabulary is present in other regions as well, but some of it is pretty uniquely Carolinian.

Phrases like ‘‘right yonder’’ or ‘‘right mad,’’ — ‘‘I was right madder than hell.’’

Phrases like ‘‘might could’’ or ‘‘must can,’’ — ‘‘I might could come that day.’’

Piedmont Grammar The piedmont’s grammatical structures are more similar to those of the surrounding states and areas because there are higher rates of travel and transmission of linguistic characteristics from speaker to speaker.

Omitting the pronunciation of /r/ in some words; ‘‘birthday’’ as ‘‘buh-thday’’

Pronouncing ‘‘Tuesday’’ as ‘‘Tuesdie,’’ ‘‘Monday’’ ad ‘‘Mondie’’ and so on

Piedmont Phonetics In sound is where the North Carolina and Virginia piedmont dialects make their greatest distinction from one another. The difference between rural and urban speakers also is a pretty distinctive marker, for example, rural North Carolinians often have a higher chance of being non-rhotic.

Piedmont Towns The difference between rural and urban North Carolinians is easiest to see in the state’s piedmont region because there are a fairly significant number of larger cities alongside smaller towns.


the Coast

Very calm water

A clueless tourist

To bother

An Ocracoke native

A game very similar to hideand-seek

Coastal Vocabulary North Carolina’s coastal region has some of the most distinct regional vocabulary in the state. Perhaps as a response to high volumes of tourists, locals have a pretty distinct way of sticking to their own—and making the dingbatters stick out. Being adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, much of it has to do with life on the water.

Phrases like ‘‘might could’’ or ‘‘must can,’’ — ‘‘I might could come that day.’’

Phrases like ‘‘She was not there,’’ become ‘‘She weren’t there,’’ and so forth

Coastal Grammar The grammatical structure of coastal speech is similar to adjacent areas as well, with some bleed from other areas of the state.

R sounds are not just pronounced, but they are quite strong.

‘‘Brown’’ pronounced as ‘‘brain,’’ ‘‘sound’’ pronounced as ‘‘saind’’ Unlike in other parts of the state, there is often a difference in the way ‘‘cot’’ and ‘‘caught’’ are pronounced.

Coastal Phonetics Coastal North Carolina is home to one of, if not the msot, distinct dialect in the state—what’s known as the Hoi Toid dialect, native speakers are from the Outer Banks. The rest of the coastal plains have their distinctive qualities as well.

Coastal Towns As the eastern part of the state is overwhelmingly made up of small towns, a lot of the linguistic qualities are pretty concurrent with rural speakers in other nearby areas. There aren’t as many large urban centers to force lots of change.

Hi there! I’m Emma, a seventh generation North Carolinian. All of the people that raised me, and all the people that raised them, going back a good long while were all North Carolinians, and they each had their own way of speaking. Noticing the way that my parents spoke, my grandparensts spoke, and really even the way that I spoke has long been an interest of mine. The differences between myself and my family members has always been fascinating to me. This project enabled me to spend time examining these things that have long interested me—and allowed me to dive deeper into the linguistic history of my family and my home. If you’re a North Carolinian too, I hope that you enjoyed learning about the way we speak as much as I did. Cheers —

Family ties

A. Charlotte Emma’s and her father’s hometown B. Raleigh Emma’s mother’s hometown C. Henderson Emma’s father’s father’s hometown D. Gastonia/Cherryville Emma’s father’s mother’s hometown E. Laurinburg/Wagram Emma’s mother’s father’s hometown F. Raeford Emma’s mother’s mother’s hometown



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